DIAMONDS IN AFRICA
REPUBLIC OF GUINEA
Diamonds were discovered in Guinea in 1932 by R.Dermody, an Irish prospector, upstream on the River Makona (Macenta area), following the discoveries in Sierra Leone in 1930.
The main diamond deposits are located in the prefectures of Kerouane, Kissidougou and Macenta, along the rivers Baoule, Milo and Diani. Other diamond discoveries were made to the west, notably west of Kindia, and more sporadically near Forecariah.
The first kimberlite dyke in Guinea was discovered in 1952 in the Kerouane area. Later, other dykes were found in the prefectures of Kerouane, Kissidougou and Macenta.
In the Diani valley, the first exploitation started in 1935 in Baradou, with the "Societe Guineenne d'Exploitation Minieres". In 1953. the company "Miniere de Beyla" started to mine the rich Bonodou deposit. From 1956 to 1960, the "BEKINIA" produced 1.28 million carats. After independence, mining was carried out by the "Entreprise Guineenne d'Exploitation du Diamant" that produced 214,314 cts between 1961 and 1973.
In 1956, illegal artisanal miners, coming from Sierra Leone, invaded the diamond bearing areas. Artisanal mining had been authorised between 1980 and 1984 within the "Service National d'Exploitation du Diamant" (SHED), with a total production of 160,850 cts. SNED was shut down in 1985, giving place to illegal mining. Artisanal mining has been again authorised since 1992, under supervision of the National Direction of Mines (DNM).
In Guinea. Diamonds occur in both secondary (eluvial, alluvial in river beds and terraces) and primary (kimberlites) deposits. Diamonds are generally of good quality, with a clear predominance of gem-quality stones. Total diamond resources are currently estimated between 25 and 30 millions carats. but the potential remains open: kimberlites have not yet been completely recorded.
Several companies are currently working in diamond exploration in Guinea. In particular, Debsam (a subsidiary of the South-African De Beers company) has involved itself in the research for mineralised kimberlite bodies and was holding fourteen research permits in 2003. Rio Tinto has also searched for kimberlites in association with Aredor in the latter's concession. But so far, the mineralised kimberlite bodies recorded were too small in size.
Geosurvey International performed in 1979-1981 an airborne geophysical survey (spectrometry, magnetometry, VLF) of the national territory. The survey indicates the possible presence of kimberlite in Beyla, East of the Simandoti, and in the Vema fracture zone at the Senegal border.
Guinea exported 666,000 carats of diamonds in 2003, worth 46.4 million US$. Current diamond production comes from Aredor-First City Mining Company (Aredor-FCMC) at an industrial scale, from several local companies at a small scale, and predominantly from artisanal mining.
Aredor-FCMC is held at 15% by the Government and 85% by the Canadian company Trivalence Mining Corporation. It detains a 1,012 km concession covering the Banankoro and Gbenko area. It has been mining mainly the flats of the Baoule River and its tributaries since 1996 and produces between 12,000 and 38,000 cts/yr. It took over the operation of the former company Aredor-Guinee SA who mined the same area between 1978 and 1993.
The company Hymes-Guinee SA yielded a total 52,400 carats between 1995 and 2001 then ceased its activity. The Company Quatro-C produced 5,200 carats from 1998 to 2001.
Several other companies hold Mining Exploitation Permits, Semi-industrial or Dredging Exploitation Permits for diamond (Bassad-Guinee, Corporation Miniere de Guinee, International Goldiamond Guinee, Marie Wanda Mining Corp., Societe Geo-Miniere, A-West Diamond, AA-Mining, Savane, Sagem, Fortuna, etc.).
Artisanal and small-scale mining is the most productive exploitation mean in the sector (300,000 to 600,000 cts/year). It is concentrated mainly in the Banankoro area (Kerouane), on lands reserved by the Government in the vicinity of the Aredor-FCMC concession, and, more recently, in the prefecture of Kindia where it is however no longer allowed.
The Artisanal Mining Permits are granted by Ministerial order by 1 hectare pieces to the petitioners, called "Masters", subject to payment of a fee and of a guarantee deposit for environmental restoration. Masters employ mining workers that they feed and equip then pay with a percentage of the results. Diamond exports are made through the National Bureau of Expertise (BNE), which evaluates the diamonds and collects a 3% export tax. Since June 2001, BNE issues "Certificates of Origin" conformably to the instructions of the Kimberlev Process against the "Conflict Diamonds". Only duly licensed Purchasing Counters (about a dozen) are authorised to export raw diamonds. The Masters may sell their diamonds either directly to the Purchasing Counters or to licences collectors who in turn sell them to the Counters.
OFFICIAL YEARLY PRODUCTION (carats)
To be continued...
Rafal Swiecki, geological engineer email contact
This document is in the public domain.