Sierra Leone, once the poster child for the problems of “conflict diamonds,” has made substantial progress in its fight against diamond smuggling, according to a new report in the Financial Times.
The government said that its year-on-year revenues from official diamond exports have doubled to $126 million. Only a few million is smuggled. The country also mined 643,000 carats this year, and has attracted big names like BHP-Billiton to help it get up to two million carats a year it reached in the 1960s.
“Because of the Kimberley Process, it is no longer attractive for people who were doing the smuggling,” said the country’s President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
There are also programs to “remove the cloud of mystique of diamonds” and have diggers get better prices for their goods. Also, the money from digging is going directly into Sierra Leone development. Diamond mining is now the third largest employer in the country, and a quarter of the revenues from diamond export taxes are reinvested into community development grants.