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Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5044

Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières
and the Direction Nationale de la Géologie et des Mines
under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State

Alluvial Diamond Resource Potential and Production Capacity Assessment of Mali

By Peter G. Chirico, Francis Barthélémy, and Fatiaga Koné

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In May of 2000, a meeting was convened in Kimberley, South Africa, and attended by representatives of the diamond industry and leaders of African governments to develop a certification process intended to assure that rough, exported diamonds were free of conflictual concerns. This meeting was supported later in 2000 by the United Nations in a resolution adopted by the General Assembly. By 2002, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was ratified and signed by diamond-producing and diamond-importing countries. Over 70 countries were included as members of the KPCS at the end of 2007.

To prevent trade in "conflict diamonds" while protecting legitimate trade, the KPCS requires that each country set up an internal system of controls to prevent conflict diamonds from entering any imported or exported shipments of rough diamonds. Every diamond or diamond shipment must be accompanied by a Kimberley Process (KP) certificate and be contained in tamper-proof packaging.

The objective of this study was (1) to assess the naturally occurring endowment of diamonds in Mali (potential resources) based on geological evidence, previous studies, and recent field data and (2) to assess the diamond-production capacity and measure the intensity of mining activity. Several possible methods can be used to estimate the potential diamond resource. However, because there is generally a lack of sufficient and consistent data recording all diamond mining in Mali and because time to conduct fieldwork and accessibility to the diamond mining areas are limited, four different methodologies were used: the cylindrical calculation of the primary kimberlitic deposits, the surface area methodology, the volume and grade approach, and the content per kilometer approach.

Approximately 700,000 carats are estimated to be in the alluvial deposits of the Kenieba region, with 540,000 carats calculated to lie within the concentration grade deposits. Additionally, 580,000 carats are estimated to have been released from the primary kimberlites in the region. Therefore, the total estimated diamond resources in the Kenieba region are thought to be nearly 1,300,000 carats. The Bougouni zones are estimated to have 1,000,000 carats with more than half, 630,000 carats, contained in concentrated deposits. When combined, the Kenieba and Bougouni regions of Mali are estimated to be host to 2,300,000 carats of diamonds.

First posted April 7, 2010

For additional information contact:
Peter G. Chirico
USGS National Center
Mail Stop 926A
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr.
Reston, VA 20192

Alluvial Mining Diamond Project

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Suggested citation:

Chirico, P.G., Barthélémy, Francis, and Koné, Fatiaga, 2010, Alluvial diamond resource potential and production capacity assessment of Mali: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5044, 23 p.
(available only online at




Basic Geologic Description of the Kenieba and Bougouni Mining Regions

Methodology for Assessing Mali Diamond Resource Potential

Methodology to Estimate the Capacity of Mali's Diamond Production




References Cited

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