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Fact Sheet 2012–3128

Prepared under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State

A Methodology for Conducting National-Scale Alluvial Diamond Resource Potential and Production Capacity Assessments, with a Focus on Artisanal Mining

By Peter G. Chirico and Katherine C. Malpeli

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (4.17 MB)Introduction

In May of 2000, a meeting was convened in Kimberley, South Africa, by representatives of the diamond industry and leaders of African governments to develop a certification process intended to assure that export shipments of rough diamonds were free of conflict concerns. Outcomes of the meeting were formally supported later in December of 2000 by the United Nations in a resolution adopted by the General Assembly. By 2002, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was ratified and signed by diamond-producing and diamond-importing countries. As of August 2012, the Kimberley Process (KP) had 51 participants representing 77 countries.

It is often difficult to obtain independent verification of the diamond production statistics that are provided to the KP. However, some degree of independent verification can be obtained through an understanding of a country’s naturally occurring endowment of diamonds and the intensity of mining activities. Studies that integrate these two components can produce a range of estimated values for a country’s diamond production, and these estimates can then be compared to the production statistics released by that country.

This methodology is used to calculate (1) the diamond resource potential of a country, which refers to the total number of carats estimated to be remaining in the country, and (2) the diamond production capacity of a country, which is the current volume of diamonds that may realistically be produced per year utilizing current human and physical resources. The following sections outline the methodology used by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to perform diamond assessments in Mali, the Central African Republic, Ghana, and Guinea.

First posted November 19, 2012

For additional information contact:
Peter G. Chirico
U.S. Geological Survey
MS 926A National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192


Katherine C. Malpeli
U.S. Geological Survey
MS 926A National Center
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192
Email: kmalpeli

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Suggested citation:

Chirico, P.G., and Malpeli, K.C., 2012, A methodology for conducting national-scale alluvial diamond resource potential and production capacity assessments, with a focus on artisanal mining: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2012–3128, 4 p. (Also available at

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