Since 2002, BSGR has invested more than $300-million in its 100%-owned diamond mining subsidiary, Octea, in Sierra Leone. The Koidu kimberlite project is situated in the Tankoro Chiefdom of the Kono district, in the Eastern province of Sierra Leone.

BSGR states that its investment has transformed mining at Koidu from a small-scale manual operation into one of the country’s largest employers, with a permanent staff complement of 1 100 in 2013, of whom 85% are local Sierra Leoneans.

An additional 300 short-term employees are also employed through local contractors constructing a resettlement village in an area near the mine site.

A key element of BSGR’s operations include a series of linked sustainable community development programmes that range from providing clean water and new housing to locals, providing educational oppor- tunities for locals in the national university and building health- care centres and local primary and secondary schools, initiating microenterprising programmes to engage local women in entrepreneurial business opportunities to organising sporting activities for the surrounding communities, in addition to sponsoring two national football clubs.

“Koidu’s production capacity will be expanded to about 55 000 ct a year – a fivefold increase, compared with previous production values. “Over the life of the mine, operations will shift from openpit to underground mining and will produce about seven-million carats from the current known resource estimate,” states BSGR.

The terms of the mining lease were recently extended to July 22, 2030, and may be renewed for an additional 15 years.

BSGR states that the Koidu mining lease covers about 4.9 km2 and hosts two small kimberlite pipes – Number 1 pipe and Number 2 pipe – and four kimberlite dyke zones, along with four small blows, or enlargements.

The company states that five main settlements were affected by the project; however, an environ- mental- and a social-impact assessment identified certain areas that would be affected by the relatively small-scale oper- ation envisaged at the time, and prepared a comprehensive resettlement action plan to assist in the impact a larger-scale operation would have.

All parties agreed on an arrangement in December 2007, which involved the relocation of all settlements located within the mining lease area, and further resettlement of communities in close proximity to the mining lease area.

“In addition to corporate social responsibility programmes, effective company training programmes have [made] a good start towards increasing the skills base for the business,” BSGR states.

“Our focus on business transparency, environmental sustainability and ethical social programmes is helping to transform the perception of diamonds within the mining sector and luxury goods market,” BSGR concludes.