On August 28th, 2019, 21 students from the University of Antwerp’s ‘Mine to Finger’ Summer School on diamonds were engaged on “The use of digital maps and open data in the analysis of artisanal mining” with a case-study of the Central African Republic (CAR). The students, with diverse backgrounds, engaged in critical and nuanced discussions on artisanal diamond mining.
The workshop kicked-off with a brief introduction by IPIS Director, Filip Reyniers, on the Institute’s main research domains, followed by an outline of the civil society perspective on Kimberley Process reform to meet ethics challenges in the diamond sector and a brief backgrounder to the conflict in the Central African Republic, by researcher Fiona Southward.
To help the participants get a good feel of artisanal diamond mining activities in CAR, Alexandre Jaillon, led them through hands-on exercises using IPIS interactive webmap of artisanal mining in the Central African Republic. Participants were guided through the different functionalities of the map and could explore raw data on mining sites visited by IPIS teams in 2019.
Based on the work conducted by IPIS, the students could explore and extrapolate site estimations of production and compare them with data available from other sources, such as the USGS and Kimberley Process’ webpage. This exercise allowed them to test some hypotheses regarding the estimated production of diamonds in CAR. The tasks saw the students using their calculators, spreadsheet documents, and interacting with one another.
The ‘Mine to Finger’ summer school is an annual program put together by the University of Antwerp. It is targeted at final year Bachelor students and Master students from different disciplines, as well as young professionals and researchers, who are interested in deepening their knowledge about diamonds and its industry.