The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has committed $1.3 million to deploying its free gemology guide for artisanal miners across multiple countries in Africa.
The kit will be available to 10,000 miners over four years in Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zambia, GIA president and CEO Susan Jacques said Tuesday. It follows a successful pilot project in Tanzania, which the institute commenced alongside international-development organization Pact in 2016.
The guide, which is designed to deliver free, basic gemological and market knowledge in regions where gemstone mining takes place, started as an illustrated, waterproof booklet in English before being translated into Tanzanian Swahili. It is accompanied by a durable plastic tray, which can be used to sort gems and conduct basic gemological evaluations.
Earlier this year, the GIA spent two weeks training more than 1,000 Tanzanian artisanal miners, showing them how to use the guide and tray to evaluate the quality of the rough they mine. The expansion of the project, which Jacques unveiled during the ICA Congress in Bangkok, signals a “tremendous step forward” for both the GIA and Pact.
“We know that this investment will bring an invaluable benefit to miners, their families and the communities in which they live,” said Jacques.
“We found that for every dollar invested, there was a twelvefold social return that will last years into the future,” added Cristina Villegas, technical program manager for Pact’s Mines to Markets program. “With their new knowledge, miners improve their income, send their children to school, [and] invest in their mines and their communities.”
Image: Pact representative Norbert Massay, GIA graduate gemologist Marvin Wambua and GIA library director Robert Weldon explain the gem guide to artisanal miners in Morogoro, Tanzania. (Gemological Institute of America)