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Alluvial Diamond Mining Project
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Introduction

Africa is the world's richest resource of diamonds with roughly 49% originating from Central and Southern Africa alone (Figure 1). Generally, these diamonds are mined from pipes, which dive deep in the Earth where geological processes, as well as, high pressure and temperature enable the formation of the crystals. Throughout time, the diamonds are created and pushed up through the pipes and can eventually reach the surface.

Once on the surface, the diamonds can be picked up and moved away from their point of origin through alluvial processes. In many developing countries, the mining of these alluvial diamonds may be the only source of income (Figure 2). In many cases, the diamonds mined using alluvial techniques enter the informal or rough diamond market. To learn more about alluvial mining processes, click here.

The Kimberley Process was created to develop a process that prevents the trade of “conflict diamonds” or “blood diamonds” from entering the rough diamond market. By developing a method to stop the illegal trade of diamonds, the participating countries could assure consumers that by purchasing diamonds they were not financing violence or human rights abuses in their countries of origin. To ensure that participating countries are following the rules of Kimberley Process, each participant must follow the strict guidelines of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Bureau de Recherche Geologique et Minieres (BRGM) will conduct research to assess the geological resource potential and the rough diamond production capacity in Mali and Central African Republic in order to provide statistical support for the KPCS.

 

Figure 1: Map of diamond occurances in Africa. Click on the picture for a higher resolution version. This will open another browser.

Figure 2: Alluvial miners in Sierra Leone. Source USAID.

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