Koidu diamond mining conflict, Sierra Leone

Description

Relocation from mining sites, an influx of people into the area, land degradation, a decrease in biodiversity, reduction in water quality, and air and noise pollution are some of the results of mining by Koidu Holdings Limited (KHL) in Sierra Leone. KHL, operating since 2003, was granted rights to mine kimberlite diamonds worth about $1.5 billion for 25 years after the end of Sierra Leones war (KHL underwent restructuring in 2012 and is now under Octa Diamond Group). In December 2007, two people were shot dead by security in clashes with residents from nearby communities at the mine. Following this incident, the government suspended KHLs operations, and set up the Jenkins-Johnston Commission of Inquiry to investigate. The Commission produced a critical report on KHLs operations and made recommendations which were included in a White Paper published in March 2008[1]. The commission found that the main root causes were relocation and resettlement, forced evacuation before blasting, lack of community benefits and lack of community participation[2]. Crop compensation, assessment of which was made in 2003, has also been a point of contention, with residents complaining it was not enough. The initial EIA going back to 2003 has been criticized because it happened just after the war at a time when people were displaced. That EIA said 4,537 people would be affected by KHLs blasting, and would have to be relocated to new housing which the company should construct. KHL eventually built housing using mud bricks and proceeded with operations but this led to near violence until agreement was reached in 2005 to build new houses[1]. In December 2012, violence again flared at the mine and two people were shot dead, when local workers went on strike over what they said were poor working conditions[3].

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Basic Data
NameKoidu diamond mining conflict, Sierra Leone
CountrySierra Leone
ProvinceKono District
SiteTankoro Chiefdom
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Specific CommoditiesDiamonds
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAlthough figures quoted from 2003 put the number of people to be relocated at 4,537, news agency Reuters quoted company figures saying that as of March 2012, 330 households had already been resettled, and the remaining 713 households would be moved by the second quarter of 2013. A total of 13,734 people would be involved[4].

The same Reuters report said the mine produced 10,000 carats per month. Sierra Leones Gold and Diamond Office said in September 2012 that for the first six months of that year, diamond exports reached the figure of 221,293.4 carats. Koidu Holdings kimberlite mine contributed 36% of this, or an amount of 79,665 carats[5].

Project Area (in hectares)400
Level of Investment (in USD)300000000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesKoidu Holdings Limited from South Africa
Octa Diamond Group from South Africa
BSG Resources from United Kingdom
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Mines and Mineral Resources, Sierra Leones Gold and Diamond Office
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersThe Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), Affected Property Owners Association (APOA)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Trade unions
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
OtherCommunity members say that the health clinic used to be close by in their old community, but that in the new resettlement area they have to travel to reach the clinic. This is especially difficult for women who go into labour.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherThere is no school at the resettlement site and community members complain that children have to travel a long way to attend classes.
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesSierra Leonean NGO Network Movement for Justice and Development said in a 2010 report that the government should invest money (50% of taxable income from mining companies in the Kono District) in livelihood projects[1].
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.There are reports, most notably from 2007 and 2012, of deaths as a result of violence associated with the mine. Researchers have noted that although Sierra Leone has abundant mineral wealth, this has not translated into improved living standards for the people of the country.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Mines and Minerals Act 2009

Environmental Protection Act

2005 Policy on Small Scale and Artisanal Mining

References

[1] Network Movement for Justice and Development (2010). Diamonds, Blood and Tears: The

and the Affected Property Owners of Kono. Available at: Accessed 1 February 2013.
[click to view]

[2] Kawamoto, Kazumi (2012). Diamonds in war, diamonds for peace: Diamond sector management and kimberlite mining in Sierra Leone. Available at: Accessed 1 February 2013.
[click to view]

[3] BBC (2012). Sierra Leone Koidu mine: Foreigners holed up after clashes. Available at: Accessed 3 February 2013.
[click to view]

[4] Reuters (2012). Sierra Leone diamond firm: from war booty to IPO. Available at: Accessed 1 February 2012.
[click to view]

[5] Reuters (2012). Koidu mine boosts S.Leone diamond exports. Available at: Accessed 3 February 2013.
[click to view]

Relationship between Koidu Holdings Ltd.

Links

de Vries, Nina (2012). Violent strike halts work at Sierra Leone Koidu diamond mine. Available at: Accessed 3 February 2013.
[click to view]

Kolver, Leandi (2012). Octa Diamond Group launched at Koidu diamond mine. Available at: Accessed 3 February 2013.
[click to view]

Media Links

Insightshare (2011). Kono Communities Affected by Mining. Available at: Accessed 3 February.
[click to view]

VIDEOS:

Meta Information
ContributorPatrick Burnett
Last update08/04/2014
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