Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my home town of Perth for the Kimberley Process Intersessional meeting.
Australia is delighted to chair the Kimberley Process in 2017 for the very first time.
Australia is the world’s thirteenth largest economy with about 24 million people, but in mining and resources and energy terms we are in fact a superpower.
Australia is the largest producer in the world of iron ore, uranium, gold, nickel, lead, zinc; we are the second largest producer of copper and bauxite.
We are currently the largest exporter of LNG and, I believe by 2020 we will be the largest global exporter of LNG.
As the sixth largest exporter of minerals and resources and energy worldwide, we also have a responsibility – a responsibility to ensure that our industries are sustainable, are conducted ethically and that we embrace world’s best practice.
And that brings me to diamonds – the beautiful, evocative jewels; the practical, industrial diamonds.
In Australia, diamonds have been mined in small amounts since the 19th century but today the total production of Australian diamonds comes from the Argyle Diamond Mine, which is in the East Kimberley in the north of this state. It makes us the fifth largest producer of diamonds worldwide.
As delegates know, in December 2000 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to establish an international certification scheme for the rough diamond trade.
Governments, the diamond industry, and civil society came together to establish the Kimberley Process certification scheme specifically to stop the trade in conflict diamonds, which were being used to fund violence by rebel groups against legitimate governments.
Australia has been an active contributor to the Kimberley Process since that time.
The Kimberley Process is specifically focussing on ensuring that shipments of rough diamonds are conflict free, that conflict diamonds do not enter the legitimate global diamond trade.
As Chair of the Kimberley Process, Australia will focus on a couple of objectives.
First, the security of the certification process to ensure that the certificates of shipments are not subjected to fraud, tampering, smuggling.
Secondly, we want to focus on a review of the Kimberley Process overall to ensure decades later that the integrity and the efficacy of the Kimberley Process will continue, will endure into the future.
Australia will also follow the precedent of conducting special forums – one will be held this afternoon on collaboration and cooperation between the diamond industry and indigenous communities.
Given our vast landscape in Australia, replete with many precious minerals, it is so important for us to respect the cultural significance that indigenous communities attach to our land, and we want to share the experiences, the lessons that we’ve learnt from the cooperation between industry and indigenous communities.
The second special forum will be held on Wednesday and that will focus on consumers’ expectations of the diamond industry and diamonds generally.
We know that for a very long time consumers, buyers, have focused on the 4 Cs – Carat, Clarity, Colour and Cut.
I believe that these days there’s a fifth C, and that’s Conscience.
According to De Beers research last year, the Millenials are three times more likely than older buyers to avoid diamonds unless they have complete confidence that they have been responsibly sourced.
These issues, these challenges can be overcome by cooperation and collaboration between industry, governments, civil society.
Argyle is an exemplar – not only does the Argyle Diamond Mine produce the most beautiful and precious pink diamonds that adorn many very special jewellery collections, including Tiffany’s ‘Celeste’ collection, the Asprey-designed ‘Pink Argyle Diamond Tiara’ and the ‘Arygyle Library Egg’, but Argyle also engage in world’s best practice in supporting indigenous communities and operating sustainably and responsibly.
We have the trifecta here in Western Australia: pink Argyle diamonds, Kalgoorlie gold, and South Sea pearls, and I hope that you will take the opportunity to meet some of our local producers in Paspaley Pearls, Linneys and of course Argyle.
On Thursday night I will be honoured to host with Rio Tinto a farewell reception for the delegates to this Kimberley Process Intersessional meeting.
I trust that you have a productive meeting, that you remember why the Kimberley Process was established in the first place and that you focus your efforts and energy on ensuring that the diamond trade, the global diamond trade remains full of integrity, efficacy and responsible, ethical practices.
I welcome you to the beautiful city of Perth – our Indian Ocean capital – and hope that you take the opportunity to see more of this great city and this state.
If you’ve not been here before, I hope it will delight you; if you’ve been here before, welcome back.
Please enjoy this Intersessional meeting of the Kimberley Process.
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