Since 2007, the USGS has been supporting the U.S. Department of State (DoS), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Kimberley Process to stem the flow of conflict diamonds into the international market. Conflict diamonds are rough diamonds that rebel movements sell to finance wars against legitimate governments. The Kimberley Process is a joint Government, industry, and civil society initiative to prevent such gemstones from entering the mainstream rough diamond market. The USGS provides technical assistance by using satellite and aerial imagery to monitor small-scale diamond mining activities in western and central Africa. This imagery is combined with on-the-ground field data collection and digital terrain modeling to achieve a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the geologic, social, and economic contexts of mining areas. This work focuses on assessing changes and identifying trends in the informal small-scale diamond mining sector over time, with the overarching goal of preventing diamonds from being used to fund conflicts against legitimate governments.
Oblique aerial image of an informal diamond mining site collected by a small UAS during USGS fieldwork in Guinea (2014).