Movie spurs industry to focus on illegal mining

The chairman of diamond giant De Beers, who is jittery about the industry's reputation after the Hollywood film Blood Diamond, has called on the sector to help bring exploited illegal miners into the formal industry.

The chairman of diamond giant De Beers, who is jittery about the industry's reputation after the Hollywood film Blood Diamond, has called on the sector to help bring exploited illegal miners into the formal industry.

"If we are not working proactively together to address problems that both affect our business and create real human suffering, we will be considered complicit and guilty by association," Nicky Oppenheimer said yesterday.

He urged the World Jewellery Confederation congress in Cape Town to pay more attention to the informal sector.

"Quite literally, millions of people are engaged in small-scale digging, often in unacceptable circumstances of poverty, at risk to their lives and subject to human rights abuses," he said, adding that it was virtually impossible to stop illegal small-scale mining because people need the money to survive.

"No, we need to devise ways to em-brace these activities into the legitimate, official, formal industry so that the interests of both the individual workers and those of governments are protected."

He asked for support for the Diamond Development Initiative, a grouping of the industry, non-governmental organisations and donors, which wants to deal with the problem.

Though the Kimberley Process, under which governments certify exports of legi-timate diamonds, has helped to curtail the extent of so-called "conflict diamonds", the sector is still nervous about attacks on its integrity. - Reuters

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