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The Central African Republic Diamond Database—A geodatabase of archival diamond occurrences and areas of recent artisanal and small-scale diamond mining

October 9, 2018

The alluvial diamond deposits of the Central African Republic (CAR) are mined almost exclusively by way of informal artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) methods. ASM sites range in diameter from a few meters to 30 meters or more, and are typically excavated by crews of diggers using hand tools, sieves, and jigs. CAR’s reported annual production has ranged from 300,000 to 470,000 carats over the past decade. This production is significant for CAR because it accounts for a large portion of the country’s export income and employs an estimated 60,000 to 90,000 miners nationally. Diamond production has also been linked to the violent conflict and political instability which have plagued the country for decades. The most recent conflict began in 2012 and resulted in an international embargo on the export of rough diamonds from CAR. This embargo was followed by a ceasefire and a return of peace in certain zones of the country in 2015; however, political and economic instability continues to afflict many areas of the country. International efforts to restore peace in CAR have included United Nations support as well as international technical assistance in tracking, assessing, and monitoring diamond production. In 2015, the Kimberley Process (KP) developed an operational framework allowing for legitimate exports from five subprefectures in CAR that were deemed to be compliant with KP internal controls and which were also considered to be free from systematic violence or control of armed groups.

The goal of this study was to address information gaps regarding the location and extent of diamond occurrences and mining activity through the integration of geologic research with remote sensing, geographic information systems analysis, and fieldwork. Effective and efficient monitoring of diamond mining activity using satellite imagery requires detailed understanding of the geographic distribution of diamond sources and mining activities.

A two-phase methodology was developed to address the knowledge gaps. The first phase consisted of the creation of a comprehensive geospatial catalogue of diamond mining and occurrence locations from archival records such as historical maps, mining reports, academic publications, and field data. Building upon this locational database, the second phase consisted of the creation of a geospatial dataset cataloguing current mining activity locations through manual interpretation of recently acquired satellite imagery. The accuracy of this second geospatial dataset was then assessed using field observations made between 2016 and 2017 by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development II project. This report presents a two-part geodatabase: part 1 contains the locations of diamond mine sites and occurrences from archival sources, and part 2 indicates areas of current or recent mining activity. This geodatabase is unique in its temporal and spatial extent and may be used to analyze the geographic distribution of CAR’s known diamond resources, to assess the effect of recent violent conflicts and KP actions on diamond produc-tion, to provide decision makers with information regarding small-scale diamond mining, and to improve the monitoring of mining in regions of the country prone to conflict.

Publication Year 2018
Title The Central African Republic Diamond Database—A geodatabase of archival diamond occurrences and areas of recent artisanal and small-scale diamond mining
DOI 10.3133/ofr20181088
Authors Jessica D. DeWitt, Peter G. Chirico, Sarah E. Bergstresser, Inga E. Clark
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2018-1088
Index ID ofr20181088
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center