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It all starts with stones - it is they that give impetus, determine the image and embodiment

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31 october 2022

Petra allows artisanal miners to exploit old tailings material at Williamson

12 february 2021
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Williamson Mine                                                                                                                             Image credit: Petra Diamonds

Petra Diamonds has introduced an artisanal tailings project, where local community members will be able to exploit old tailings material at the Williamson Mine in Tanzania, in a formalised and controlled manner.
"A memorandum of understanding between Williamson Diamonds Limited (WDL), the local artisanal mining group and local and regional government authorities has been drafted and is with government authorities," it said in a statement.
The diamond company is trying to make amends after a UK-based law firm, Leigh Day, filed claims in the High Court of England and Wales last September on behalf of 32 anonymous individuals against Petra Diamonds and WDL.
The claim alleged that Petra and Williamson Diamonds are liable for human rights violations, personal injuries and deaths suffered by the anonymous individuals at and surrounding the Williamson mine, arising from the mine's security operations. 
Petra previously disclosed that there had been ongoing illegal artisanal mining taking place at Williamson over some time, due to the challenges in securing the large perimeter of the Special Mining Licence area, which covers 30.6km2 including the main 146-hectare orebody, together with alluvial resources.
Petra said it has since received reports of continuing incidents involving security operations at the Williamson mine and has carried out an investigation into recent security incidents at the mine.
It said in the three months from November 2020 through January 2021 there had been 79 recorded incursions onto the WDL Special Mining Licence area (SML), involving approximately 1091 illegal diggers.
"In the majority of cases (60 of the 79 incidents), no force was used despite the illegal diggers becoming aggressive in 8 of those 60 incidents," said Petra.

Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau, Rough&Polished