Namibia this week assumed the chairmanship of the Association of African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA), assuming the leadership of the group from Guinea. Mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo accepted the chairmanship on behalf the country, saying that Africa has the opportunity and potential to capitalise on its diamond resources, if exploited in a responsible and sustainable way. "That way, we will ensure that diamond income is channelled towards building education and health institutions, improving road and network infrastructure and meeting other pressing social economic needs," he said.
Alweendo stressed that despite the continent's potential in optimising its benefits from mineral resources, diamond production and diamond producing countries still face dynamic threats and challenges. The minister said the ADPA's future role would aim to drive the mineral beneficiation agenda. "This will be done through developing the diamond downstream industry through the exchange of relevant information and expertise in the area of beneficiation and mainstreaming of alluvial artisanal and small-scale miners into the formal economies." He added that the association needs to have adequate resources to assist members whose diamond production depends on under-developed alluvial artisanal and small-scale sectors to put in place the correct laws and replicate best practices among members.
During the ADPA's 6th Ordinary Experts meeting in Windhoek, Namibian Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy, Kornelia Shilunga urged African diamond producers to formalise artisanal and small-scale diamond miners (ASM) to maximise benefits from the sector. “The ASM operates under an informal system and is presented with challenges that escape internal controls of the Kimberly Process. This necessitates the need for integrating the alluvial, artisanal and small-scale diamond sectors into formal economies in order to optimise benefits accruing from this sector,” she said. She said the ASM sector represents nearly 25 percent of the world’s rough diamond trade [typical estimates are 15-20%, ed.] and said the strategy is in line with the African Mining Vision of advocating for mineral beneficiation to contribute towards industrialisation to benefit local economies.