The first steps towards setting up a traceability program have been taken in Democratic Republic Congo (DRC), which dominates the world’s supply of diamonds from artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM).
A pilot project involving Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the DRC mining ministry and tech company Everledger aims to establish a fully transparent value chain in a country which has a diamond sector vulnerable to human rights violations, poor working conditions, corruption and opaque or illicit trade.
The project, called OrigemA, is initially being funded by the AWDC and will focus on transparency, sustainability and fair trade.
The DRC is the largest producer of artisanal mined diamonds in the world, accounting for nearly 70 per cent of global ASM production, which in turn constitutes an estimated 15 to 20% of the total diamond production in the world.
DRC’s mining minister Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi said stakeholders “will work with the other partners to create a legal and fiscal framework that allows efficient formalization, combatting corruption, eradicating logistical hurdles, and increasing transparency in financial and fiscal flows.”
Karen Rentmeesters, AWDC’s head of industry relations, said: “This bottom-up, collaborative approach ensures that we create a model that considers the realities of artisanal, small-scale mining in remote regions and that the resulting blueprint can be scaled up and replicated in the field.”
Products from Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of Congo are among those from five nations to be seized by the United States at its borders because they are believed linked to forced-labor violations.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Tuesday it initiated its investigation following complaints from the public and other sources. The allegations led to the issue of a Withhold Release Order for the five products, which include gold from artisanal small mines in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe. The Marange site has a long history of alleged human rights abuses, from a 2008 massacre of civilians to 2018, when new reports of forced labor and other rights violations emerged.
“A major part of CBP’s mission is facilitating legitimate trade and travel,” said Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan. “CBP’s issuing of these five withhold release orders shows that if we suspect a product is made using forced labor, we’ll take that product off U.S. shelves.”
Because it is illegal to import goods linked to forced labor into the U.S., the CBP has the authority to order their detention but also their release. “Importers have the opportunity to either re-export the detained shipments at any time or to submit information to CBP demonstrating that the goods are not in violation,” the agency said.
Also listed were specific garments from China, rubber gloves from Malaysia and bone-black char from Brazil.