The diamond and precious stones industry is highly profitable, with the mining of diamonds and gold alone generating over $300 billion in revenue globally each year. Although the industry is an important source of income and employment for many communities, it has a legacy of human rights abuses. This is particularly in relation to mining within the industry which the Global Slavery Index identifies as one of the sectors most at risk of modern slavery.
Many people working in gold and diamond mines have become victims of human trafficking and forced labour, and child labour continues to persist. Due to the precarious nature of mining, it is usually disadvantaged individuals driven by economic necessity that engage in this kind of work. Such individuals are therefore particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking and child labour, especially if they have travelled away from their families and support networks to find work. The risks are exacerbated by the fact that a significant proportion of precious stones mining occurs in small-scale mines in the informal sector, where it is easier for human trafficking and child labour to manifest.
Another important factor influencing the industry is its complex supply chain networks. Stones are often mined, processed, manufactured and sold in different countries and this makes it harder for jewellery companies to trace slavery and child labour in their supply chains. Consequently, the precious stones industry is a high risk sector which means companies and organisations operating within the sector should take extra care to carry out human rights due diligence on their supply chains and ensure transparency and traceability.
In recent years, the precious stones industry has come under increasing public scrutiny for not carrying out sufficient due diligence of its supply chains and enabling human trafficking, modern slavery and child labour to exist within them. Many governments around the world, including the UK, are also now looking to strengthen their modern slavery legislation. At a time where increased shareholder value is linked to good Corporate Social Responsibility, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to comply with modern slavery legislation, not just to avoid criminal or civil liability but also to promote business profitability.
Southwell and Partners specialises in advice on modern slavery compliance law, should you require any advice please get in touch.