"Countries such as Sierra Leone and Angola...need revenue from diamonds if they are ever to recover from conflict and achieve peace. These legitimate diamonds will now help to bring prosperity to the people of Sierra Leone," said Alhaji Deen, Sierra Leone Minister of Mineral Resources.

Between the years of 1991 and 2002, Sierra Leone descended into a violent civil war (to learn more about the war, click here). In 2000, the United Nations Security Council banned both direct and indirect imports of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone to member states.

When the war ended, Sierra Leone became a democratic country. Since then, the diamond industry has provided technical assistance and training to Sierra Leone's Ministry of Mines in setting up the Government Diamond Office. In 2003 Sierra Leone joined the Kimberley Process, the international agreement developed to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond supply chain, providing an assurance that diamonds are from conflict free sources. That same year, the United Nations Security Council lifted the regulation regarding the export of diamonds from Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is now using revenues from diamond exports to rebuild its infrastructure, health services and education systems.

Companies mining diamonds in Sierra Leone include Koidu Holdings and African Diamonds plc. Koidu Holdings is an example of the positive social impact that a legitimate company working in cooperation with the government can make. The company has pledged to share 20% of its profits with the national social safety net and the local community where it mines. While these contributions are important, they are just the start to rebuilding this country. As additional organizations invest in diamond mining in Sierra Leone, they will continue to help this previously war-torn country make significant strides towards social and economic prosperity.