De Beers Group is set to launch an app to enable artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) to certify that the diamonds being mined at their projects are legal.

The programme is known as GemFair and will be piloted in Sierra Leone to create a secure and transparent route to market for diamonds legally sourced by ASM.

The initiative is intended to facilitate the formalisation of the ASM sector and will include criteria such as ensuring that rough diamonds are purchased from approved locations, as well as improving the working conditions and livelihoods of workers.

“We hope to play a role in enhancing the prospects for those working in the sector, while also potentially opening up a new source of supply for De Beers.”

GemFair will leverage purpose-developed technology to record ASM production at mine sites that adhere to ethical standards.

The pilot project is being conducted in collaboration with an NGO known as the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) and will focus on small-scale mine sites across Sierra Leone.

Miners participating in the GemFair pilot must be certified by the DDI and meet certain standards.

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Personnel who qualify for the scheme will receive an app and dedicated tablet equipped with a diamond ‘toolkit’ to digitally track the diamonds throughout the supply chain.

De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said: “The ASM sector represents a critical income source for many poverty-affected communities.

“However, due to parts of the sector being largely informal and unregulated, it lacks access to established international markets and the ability to derive fair value for participants.

“By providing a secure route to market, offering fair prices and helping to raise standards, we hope to play a role in enhancing the prospects for those working in the sector, while also potentially opening up a new source of supply for De Beers over the longer term.”

Participating miners will be given training in how to use the new technology during the project’s pre-pilot phase.

In the event that the pilot programme is successful, De Beers intends to integrate the technology with its planned diamond industry blockchain platform, which is currently under development.