Our pillars


The Group's purpose – "Produce the best diamonds, in the best way, leaving a lasting legacy" – is directly underpinned by three key strategic priorities: Extracting Maximum Value from Our Operations, Working Responsibly and Maintaining Our Social Licence, and Preparing for Our Future.

Our social licence to operate is supported by regular engagement with all stakeholders, including government, local communities, employees and other interested parties, to address challenges with mutually beneficial and sustainable solutions. As responsible operators and social partners in our host countries, we endeavour to maintain healthy and constructive relationships with governments, employees and our PACs.

We want to leave a positive legacy in the countries in which we operate through contributing to local economies, maximising local employment and procurement opportunities, and developing sustainable CSRI projects. We take an integrated approach to achieving this, and we understand how matters of sustainability, society and the environment are inextricably linked. As a mine's life is finite, we must establish corporate social responsibility investment (CSRI) projects that will sustainably create value for stakeholders after mine closure.

Related sustainability principles

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Prioritising the development and well-being of our employees

Related UN SDGs

Gem Diamonds' CSRI programmes are informed by the socio-economic challenges identified through needs analysis in collaboration with our PACs at our operating mine in Lesotho, and guided by the 8 UN SDGs the Group has adopted. We acknowledge the impact we have in addressing global socio-economic challenges within our operating context.

The following SDGs relate to our social pillar:


Refer to our Annual Report and Accounts 2023 for more information on our approach to integrating these UN SDGs into our business operations.

Snapshot of our performance

  • US$0.4 million
    invested in social projects
    (2022: US$0.5 million)
  • US$83.9 million
    spent on local procurement
    (2022: US$134.1 million)
  • Zero major or significant community accidents
    (2022: zero)
  • Letšeng has to date awarded 55
    to young Basotho citizens
  • Zero incidents of
    compromised dam integrity
    (2022: zero)
  • Zero violations of
    indigenous communities' rights
    (2021: zero)

Our goals

  • Expand regional access to clean water through a targeted water infrastructure construction programme within PACs.
  • Redefining project qualification and stakeholder engagement criteria to ensure PACs remain a priority and benefit appropriately from CSRI investment.
  • Ensure SME projects achieve sustainahle operating status with approrriate skills transfer to SME management teams.

Our future

  • Increasing the impact of our CSRI programme and project through partnerships with other stakeholders, including our contractor partners.
  • Improve climate change resilience within PACs.

Material Matters

Our context

Our primary objective is to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our workforce, their families and our host communities by operating safely and responsibly.

In our remote part of Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains, there is limited public infrastructure and challenging transport routes, providing daily challenges for our Letšeng operation and PACs. As a good corporate citizen, our responsibility extends beyond protecting our communities against potential mining risks; we are also responsible for creating sustainable shared value that will benefit PACs for generations to come.

In 2023, four material topics were central to our engagements with stakeholders: water provision, extreme weather events, emergency healthcare and RSF management.

Our approach

Due to inadequate access to basic public services and water supply infrastructure, our PACs primarily rely on surface water sources (sire 1ms and springs) as their primary water supply. Historical subsistence farming contributed to coliform contamination of surface water sources, which result in human gastrointestinal disease. To mitigate this and protect the water bodies, Letšeng provides water and basic sanitation infrastructure to local villages. To date, we have equipped 13 schools and eight villages with safe potable water and dignified sanitation facilities.

Refer to our water quality case study in our Sustainability Report 2022 for more information.

At Letšeng, our on-site clinic provides emergency response and medical assistance to PACs in the Mokhotlong district. In 2023, we responded to 16 accidents on public roads and treated 36 people in our clinic for injuries sustained in local villages. We also leverage other resources at Letšeng to directly address communities' needs, including national road repair and maintenance on behalf of the Roads Directorate.

RSF management is an ongoing material engagement topic, and is addressed in our group residue storage facility management policy. RSF management is crucial at all stages of a RSF's lifecycle – including closure and post-closure – and mitigates the risk of tailings dam failure and often significant associated consequences, particularly for downstream communities and the environment.

We have zero tolerance for human injury or fatality, and have committed to the International Council on Mining and Metal's (ICMM's) global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM) to guide us towards achieving zero harm to people and the environment. The GIS' M requires responsible operators to prioritise RSF safety and disclose relevant information supporting public accountability.

The integrity of our mining waste (coarse and fine) and freshwater storage facilities is non-negotiable and integral to operating responsibly and safeguarding our communities.

Throughout the year, we conduct stringent dam wall safety inspections and audits, both internally and with independent experts. The Patiseng, Old TSF and Mothusi Dam (our freshwater supply dam) at Letšeng also undergo stringent daily, weekly and monthly inspections of water level, heach length, freeboard and overall structural stability. An early-warning system, and training and awareness programmes ensure communities are prepared for an unlikely dam failure event.

These efforts reflect in the fact that there has not been and nor has the nearest village, 20km downstream of Letšeng, at any time reported tailings overflow or a containment breach in its history.

Refer to the Operations review in our Annual Report and Accounts 2022 for our approach to tailings management.

Our performance

  • We recorded zero incidents of compromised dam integrity in 2023 (2022: zero).
  • In 2023, the Letšeng emergency team responded to 23 emergency calls (2022: 17) from PACs, of which sixteen were motor vehicle related (2022: eight).

Our context

We maintain our social licence to operate through fostering strong stakeholder relationships. Our positive relationships with employees, regulators, PACs and host governments depend on fair labour practices, environmental and social responsibility, appropriate risk management, regular engagements and the effective integration of strong ethics into our husiness practices.

Our culture of care drives us to engage, listen and respond to stakeholders' needs. Frequent engagements with and delivery to stakeholders creates trust and promotes the Group's reputation and social licence to operate sustainably.

Our stakeholder engagement and CSI strategy consider Lesotho's high levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty and guide our Letšeng operations in responsibly and sustainably contributing to the economy and our PACs during and beyond our life of mine.

Refer to our Annual Report and Accounts 2023 for details on stakeholder engagement.

Our approach

Based on extensive community Jed needs analysis and public consultation, our community engagement approach is informed by operation-specific social and environmental impact assessments (SEIAs). Our approach is aligned with host country legislation and international best practice guidelines, such as the Equator Principles and the IFC Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability.

Letšeng has a multi-level approach to stakeholder engagement. We engage monthly with local community leaders and quarterly with village residents, in addition to regular forums with district-level stakeholders and leadership. Our stakeholder engagement specialist also established WhatsApp groups with villagers for rapid and frequent communication. This enhances the quality of our communications, relationships and our ability to understand and proactively address issues.

We aim to engage transparently and respectfully through suitably qualified and trained people and our stakeholder consultation framework ensures meaningful engagement, which guides our decision-making. Community representatives are also appointed as members of Letšeng's CSRI subcommittee, which meets quarterly to discuss the implementation and sustainability of current and planned projects.

Our performance

  • No major or significant stakeholder incidents occurred at any of our operations during 2023 (2022: none).
  • No violations of the rights of indigenous people, on whose land the Group operates, occurred at our operations in 2023 (2022: none).

Our context

Lesotho is a developing country with high unemployment, inequality and poverty. According to the World Bank and World Food Programme, an estimated 32.4% of the population lives on less than US$2.15 a day. Food security is deteriorating and related malnutrition is increasing across all age groups. The diamond, water and textile industries are the primary contributors to the country's export economy.

The three districts bordering our Letšeng mine are home to some of the most impoverished communities in the country. We support these PACs through our comprehensive CSRI strategy focusing on sustainable shared value creation. In addition, we contribute to socio-economic development through tax and royalty payments, our sustainable development investments and local employment and procurement practices.

Through authentic engagements to understand communities' needs, we aim to create meaningful change with decent employment and improvements in basic services and food security.

Our approach

Letšeng's CSRI policy guides our identification and prioritisation of CSRI projects in terms of a bottom-up, community-focused approach, while considering our adopted UN SDGs. Our CSRI governance ensures sustainable responses to worthy causes, including appropriate ad hoe projects such as emergency response during extreme weather events and road accidents. Our 2022 to 2026 CSRI strategy, based on extensive stakeholder engagement during the needs analysis process, remains in line with our CSRI objectives and policy. Communities, leadership authorities, employees and relevant government departments are also consulted during this process.

Our mining lease agreement with the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho (2019), stipulates that Letšeng allocate LSL0.5 million or 1% of total dividends declared and paid in the relevant financial year; and 1% of the market value of a special diamond or LSL0.5 million (whichever is the greater in each instance) to CSRI projects. The Letšeng CSRI Committee, including two community-elected Mokhotlong representatives, governs our CSRI strategy.

We value the mutually beneficial relationship we have with our PACs which ensures our long-term sustainability and social licence to operate. Beyond compliance with regulations and legal requirements, we strive for meaningful impact through five-year CSRI strategies and policies that are independently assessed for appropriate response to community needs. We focus on areas with the greatest potential for positive impact, as informed by our community needs analysis: infrastructure and small, medium enterprise (SME) development, education, healthcare and, where appropriate, regional environment projects.

Our performance

  • Our total CSRI investment in 2023 was US$0.4 million (2022: US$0.5 million).
  • Letšeng has to date awarded 55 scholarships to young Basotho citizens studying towards careers as artisans, occupational hygienists, geologists and mining engineers; four were awarded in 2023 (to date, 47 of our recipients have graduated successfully and 20 are employed full-time at lhe mine).
  • We expanded egg production capacity at our Mokhotlong and Mapholaneng egg circle projects to help farmers meet increasing market demand.
  • We assisted with the increase in milk production at our dairy project by donating 17 additional cows and a tractor to plant fodder in their fields.
  • We built classrooms for the Ntlholohetsane and Tšepong primary schools.
  • We renovated classrooms at the Ha Moroke and Mapholaneng high schools.

Our context

Localisation is key to embedding shared value within our host communities. Our shared value contributions include providing gainful employment to people from our PACs and maintaining a local supply chain for local procurement, enabling us to contribute meaningfully to our communities' socio-economic development and well-being while meeting our business needs.

Our approach

Letšeng contributes annually to Lesotho's economy through royalties, taxes and dividends. The mine contributes to socio-economic development by employing more than 1 200 local people and supporting compliant local suppliers of goods and services and emerging entrepreneurs.

Depending on our operational skills requirements, we recruit locally and retain skilled employees through on-the-job training, recognition and rewards. We also secure our talent pipeline by providing scholarships and internships to local youth.

Our performance

  • 99% of Letšeng's workforce comprises Lesotho nationals (2022: 98%).
  • Group in-country procurement amounted to US$83.9 million in 2023 (2022: US$134.1 million) of which US$1.6 million (2022: US$2.4 million) was procured directly from PACs and US$34.2 million (2022: US$30.0 million) from communities around Letšeng.

Our context

We recognise and respect the well-established cultures and social structures of our remote rural host communities. We aim to support these communities by advancing their economic, environmental and social sustainability potential while promoting practices that protect human rights.

Our approach

Our community needs analyses and SElAs are guided by the free, prior and informed rnnsent (FPIC) standard as well as indigenous peoples' rights to lands, territories and natural resources embedded in the universal right to self-determination. We support this fundamental principle of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Guided by the FPIC standard and internationally accepted sustainability principles, our community engagements and CSRI projects are informed by extensive public consultation to understand our PACs' needs and concerns.

Our performance

  • We recorded zero violations of indigenous communities' rights in 2023 (2022: zero).
  • Zero major or significant community grievances were recorded in 2023 (2022: zero).
  • We engaged safely and responsibly with PACs through established and enhanced forums.

Refer to our Our Corporate Social Investment in Lesotho case study for more information.