Field Trip to Artisanal Diamond Mining Area in Cote d’Ivoire

Observation of Cooperatives of Artisanal Diamond Miners in Cote d’Ivoire

In January 2015, Chie Murakami, director general of NPO Diamonds for Peace was invited and participated in both a tour of artisanal diamond mining communities and the PRADDII workshop (Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development Project).

Since the lifting of the embargo on diamond trading in Cote d’Ivoire in the midst of the civil war in April 2014, the PRADDII, a development project for land ownership and artisanal diamond mining (jointly funded by US Agency for International Development(USAID)and EU in Cote d’Ivoire in the same year) has aimed to achieve the following goals.

1) To promote activities in accordance with the policy of Kimberley Process which seeks to prevent the trade in conflict diamonds, and

2) To develop artisanal diamond mining.

 

Cote d'Ivoire
Cote d’Ivoire

1. A tour to cooperatives of artisanal diamond miners in Seguela, Cote d’Ivoire

I joined a tour to Seguela in Cote d’Ivoire. The region has cooperatives in each artisanal diamond mining village which is uncommon in West Africa.

Seguela
Seguela

 [The features of cooperatives in Seguela]

・The precursor of a cooperative is GVC, a development committee in the village.

・SODEMI, a state-owned diamond mining company in Cote d’Ivoire, focused attention on a function of GVC and changed GVC in each village into a cooperative.

・A cooperative takes a diamond mining role entrusted by SODEMI.

Note: In Cote d’Ivoire, just like other West African countries, people and organizations own what is on the surface of the land if they own the land. What is under the surface belongs to the state. In other words, the land owners do not own diamonds, which are usually buried in the land. Therefore, the state owned diamond company SODEMI, which possess the legal rights to diamonds, entrusts cooperatives to mine diamonds in SODEMI concession areas.

Sales

– In the case that diamonds are found, a seller (miner) and brokers gather at a meeting place in the village, join a public auction. Multiple persons from a cooperative always observe negotiations in the auction venue in order to bring transparency to the process.
-The cooperative receives 20% of the sales, which is then disbursed for ongoing village development projects. Land owners and a team of miners get 80% of the price. It is then divided among them.
-Example:
In a case of the sales: 100, the number of the mining team members: 3, shares for each group can be calculated as follows:
Land owners and a team of miners receive 80.
A share of the land owner: 80/(3+1)=20
A share of the mining team: 80-20=60
The team leader decides how to divide the share among team members.

Development projects for the village

-All members of a cooperative gather to decide in advance what project should be implemented and prioritized. Previous project: Construction of village mosques, schools and water towers.
-Several projects are now in progress.
-In order to save costs, mining teams in a cooperative, sends its members to do some of the needed work.
-As soon as it makes money from selling diamonds, the cooperative buys materials needed for ongoing projects. It does not deposit money in a bank account.

The requirements of enrollment in the cooperatives and its effects

-Since a part of profits from the sales of diamonds is used for development projects for the village (e.g. school construction), the whole village gains benefits from the projects. Therefore, all the native people in a village belong to the cooperative even if some are not involved in diamond mining.
-A person qualified for membership is a native of the village. Its advantage is that it is easy to build trust among members. Its disadvantage is that a cooperative excludes people moving in from other villages or regions.
-The social status of villagers influences the positions of members: people with power can have more authority in a cooperative. Villagers with less voice tend to remain voiceless in a cooperative.

Miscellaneous

-Ninety-five percent of villagers are Muslims.
-A cooperative manages not only diamonds but also other things such as cash crop trees.

Diamond found in Seguela
This is a diamond mined by a cooperative in Seguela. The name of a person who found it was recorded. Photo: DFP 2015, Cote d’Ivoire

2. A workshop for making diamond mining in Cote d’Ivoire a productive and transparent value chain

A workshop was held in a place near the capital of Cote d’Ivoire after a tour to mining communities.
Participants of the workshop were the following:
-PRADDII project members
-Ivorian government officials
-Diamond industry stakeholders in Cote d’Ivoire (e.g. Exporters, brokers and miners)
-Foreign companies, organizations and NGO’s involved in supporting artisanal and small-scale diamond miners, such as American, Canadian, German and Japanese organizations

The PRADDII team gave a presentation on 10 innovative ideas after which participants had a discussion.

We, DFP, plan to start activities to support artisanal miners in Liberia, a neighboring country of Cote d’Ivoire. Therefore, we will work closely with the PRADDII and the other stakeholders in order to make DFP activities more effective and efficient.

Workshop
Workshop Photo: DFP 2015, Cote d’Ivoire

 

3. The reality of the embargo

When a country is under civil war and its rough diamond sales likely fund rebel forces, the United Nation bans export of rough diamonds from the country. (This means an embargo)

In the case that an embargo is imposed, the question might be asked: Does it really prevent trading of rough diamonds in the area?

The answer is NO! People making their living by diamond mining cannot stop their work even during the war. They continue to work in mines for their living; though they have less output of the stones due to the war.

Reportedly, diamonds found in Cote d’Ivoire during the civil war were sold to brokers from its neighboring countries. It means that the brokers smuggled the stones into their own countries and then exported them as if they were mined domestically; even with Kimberley Process Certificates which certify the diamonds do not fund rebel forces.

An embargo stops the official export of diamonds from conflict countries.
However, it does not completely halt the informal trades.

 

Women at Seguela Market
Cheerful women at Seguela Market (1)

 

Women at Seguela Market
Women at Seguela Market

Chie Murakami

Born on 9th December 1973. B.A. in Business Management from Gakushuin University (Tokyo), M.A. in International Development Studies from the George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) She has working experiences as development practitioner in Haiti, Laos and Kenya. Loves sushi, lobster, and tennis.