Ethnic and political conflict developed into open civil war in Côte d’Ivoire in 2002, leading to a de facto partitioning of the country into the government-controlled south and the rebel-controlled north. Côte d’Ivoire’s two main diamond mining areas, Séguéla and Tortiya, are located in the north, under what was, until recently, rebel-controlled territory. In an effort to prevent proceeds from diamond mining from funding the conflict, the United Nations (UN) placed an embargo on the export of rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire in 2005. That same year, the Kimberley Process (KP), the international initiative charged with stemming the flow of conflict diamonds, acted to enforce this ban by adopting the Moscow Resolution on Côte d’Ivoire, which contained measures to prevent the infiltration of Ivorian diamonds into the legitimate global rough diamond trade. Though under scrutiny by the international community, diamond mining activities continued in Côte d’Ivoire, with artisanal miners exploiting both alluvial deposits in fluvial systems and primary kimberlitic dike deposits. However, because of the embargo, there has been no official record of diamond production since the conflict began in 2002. This lack of production statistics represents a significant data gap and hinders efforts by the KP to understand how illicitly produced diamonds may be entering the legitimate trade.
This study presents the results of a multiyear effort to monitor the diamond mining activities of Côte d’Ivoire’s two main diamond mining areas, Séguéla and Tortiya. An innovative approach was developed that integrates data acquired from archival reports and maps, high-resolution satellite imagery, and digital terrain modeling to assess the total diamond endowment of the Séguéla and Tortiya deposits and to calculate annual diamond production from 2006 to 2013. On the basis of currently available data, this study estimates that a total of 10,100,000 carats remain in Séguéla and a total of 1,100,000 carats remain in Tortiya. Production capacity was calculated for the two study areas for the years 2006–2010 and 2012–2013. Production capacity was found to range from between 38,000 carats and 375,000 carats in Séguéla and from 13,000 carats and 20,000 carats in Tortiya. Further, this study demonstrates that artisanal mining activities can be successfully monitored by using remote sensing and geologic modeling techniques. The production capacity estimates presented here fill a significant data gap and provide policy makers, the UN, and the KP with important information not otherwise available.