Practical and Responsible Diamond Mining Training in Gbugbay, Weasua

Weasua, DFP’s first partner community, is one of the leading artisanal diamond mining communities in the state of Gbarpolu, Liberia. Weasua has many satellite villages, one of which is named Gbugbay. Gbugbay is a small village, its residents depend mainly on artisanal diamond mining and rice farming for their livelihoods.

History of Gbugbay

Gbugbay was established by a couple (Gorjay and his wife Kpanah), who were rice and sugarcane farmers that lived and farmed in Weasua in the early 1960s. Later in the early 1970s, the couple moved to present day Gbugbay in search of more fertile land for their farming work. Initially they had no plan to permanently settle on the land, so the couple commuted to and from their farm daily for several years. However, they soon realized that the land was good for their farming activities and considering they had to walk almost four hours daily, they finally decided to settle on the land in the mid-1970s. When other people saw the land was productive for farming, they followed Mr. Gorjay and his wife and started living in the village together with them, and gradually the village population began to grow.

In 1982, Mr. Rogers, a tax collector and one of the people who later came to live in the village, started artisanal diamond mining. In that same year he found the first diamond in Gbugbay which weighed 0.40 carat. The news spread and many other people came to the village and started mining; The Liberian civil war in the early 1990s interrupted village life but people still came back to live in the village in the early 2000s and diamond mining activities resumed in 2004. Since then, people have continued to live and mine diamonds in the village, and the population has grown to approximately 500 people. The village that was established by farmers has become the home of artisanal diamond miners as mining has become the residents’ major source of livelihoods.

Just like many other artisanal diamond mining communities in Liberia, the miners in Gbugbay lacked improved skills to responsibly mine diamonds. DFP had invited a trainer from the U.S. to teach the first basic responsible diamond mining training in Weasua in December 2022 as well as a follow up basic responsible diamond mining training in May 2023. DFP decided to hold more practical training in Gbugbay in December 2023 to help the miners and diggers understand and responsibly engage in diamond mining practices. Sixteen miners and diggers (a miner refers to a license holder and a digger refers to a person who digs the ground for diamonds), from three mining communities (Weasua, Gbarma and Camp Alpha) in Gbarpolu County, participated in a three day practical training which was centered on the mining life cycle with specific focus on processing and mapping.

The below topics were emphasized among others in the training.

Processing with a Diamond Chute

The diamond chute is a simple machine that the trainer prototyped with locally available resources based on the hydrophobic properties of diamonds and introduced it to the participants to help them in the process of processing their gravel for an effective result. This machine was first introduced to the miners in Weasua in the basic responsible diamond mining training in May 2023. Following the introduction of the machine in Weasua, a pilot operation was conducted during the workshop in Gbugbay.

Following the lecture about the machine, the trainer moved the participants to the mining site and  taught them how to operate the machine using the already washed gravel (already processed gravel). The already washed gravel was used for the exercise to prevent the risk of losing any diamond. By using the already washed gravel, it would show the effectiveness of the machine if a diamond was missed during processing through traditional methods. The trainer encouraged the participants to continue using the machine until its effectiveness is achieved.

The trainer explains to participants the key concept to operate the diamond chute.

Mining Map

The participants learned that mapping is one of the important practices in mining. It is associated with prospecting and exploration as it helps the miner to keep track of important information such as features of the terrain, the spots where the miner has found diamonds in the past, and helps the miner analyze where to dig next. A mining map serves as a guide for the miner.

The participants, under the guidance of the trainer, were able to individually develop sample maps for their practice. The trainer encouraged the participants to practice developing maps for their personal mining claims after the training.

From DFP’s perspective the participants’ knowledge and understanding are still very limited as people in Liberia do not traditionally use maps and they are not accustomed to any type of map. DFP will facilitate having more minders and diggers get used to using a map and practice what they have learned.

A participant trying to make a mining map



Raphael, a diamond digger from Gbugbay Village


I participated in this responsible diamond mining training with the mindset to learn new things and improve on my existing knowledge about diamond mining. Although I have been working as a diamond digger for almost five years, I realized from the training that my knowledge was very limited. I knew nothing about trenching, developing mining map and its importance, and my knowledge about prospecting was confused with exploration and my understanding was even poor about the both processes. My participation in the training helped me to learn about mapping and trenching and their importance; I also learned how prospecting is different from exploration, and how the both processes are very important stages of the mining life cycle.

My biggest lesson learned is about trenching; it has impressed me a lot. I learned that trenching helps a miner to smartly explore for diamond deposits, and it helps to reduce the amount of labor and resources used in a mining project, and it also reduces the amount of disturbances caused to the earth. Therefore, I am happy that Diamonds for Peace brought this training to my community. Going forward, I feel empowered knowledge wise, and I pledge to use the knowledge to transform my work and my life. I will also help to teach the knowledge to my friends, so that they too can get the benefits.

Fatumata, a proposed female miner from Weasua Town


I’m excited that I participated in the responsible diamond mining training. During the training, I learned that when a person smartly and responsibly conducts prospecting, he/she stands a chance to recover more diamonds with less efforts and expenses. Therefore, when I start mining, I will teach the knowledge to diamond diggers who will work with me and encourage them to practically apply the knowledge. For this and many other training, I like to thank DFP, and would like to recommend more of such educative training in our community.

Tommy, a diamond digger from Gbugbay Village


I have been working as a diamond digger for nearly 10 years, but with limited knowledge in mining. This responsible diamond mining training was an opportunity for me to increase my knowledge, and I’m really grateful to DFP for conducting the training; it helped me to learn many things which I didn’t know in the past. From this training, I learned that the Earth is constantly going through lots of physical processes which cause it to change form over time. From this lesson, I learned that millions of years ago, rivers may have existed in some places where there are no rivers today; and considering that diamonds will always end up in rivers, it is a good idea for a miner to look for diamonds in places that show signs that a river once existed in a certain place. I also learned that developing a mining map and marking important points in the mining field helps the miner to keep record of potential places where he could next focus his mining attention. Finally, I learned that digging random holes is a bad mining practice, it leaves the earth badly disturbed if those holes are not back filled. Therefore, in order to prevent digging random holes, it is important for the miner to dig shallow trenches and assess the materials that show prospects of finding more diamonds and in which direction the materials travel, so that the decision on where to dig next can be informed by the information collected from digging the trench. I promise to use this knowledge to improve my mining work.

The Participants’ Reactions

The participants saw the training as an opportunity for them to increase their knowledge in diamond mining, and to raise their chance of maximizing profits. As they envisioned before coming to the training, they were excited about the above lessons that were taught, both through lecture and practical approach. They showed that the practical aspect of the training was very important and that it helped them gain a better understanding of  the lesson.

The participants interacted in the training, as they asked many questions and also gave answers to questions the trainer raised, although they did not always repspond correctly. Their actions and level of participation showed that they were able to understand the lesson well. However, what remains a concern is for them to practice what they have learned from the training.


Front photo: The trainer and participants in the mining map session (c) Diamonds for Peace