COSCUEZ, Colombia (Reuters) – Workers at the Colombian emerald mine run by Canada’s Fura Gems’ – the first publicly-traded emerald miner operating in the South American nation – have been laboring in unsafe conditions and sometimes lack basic safety equipment, according to four former employees.
Fura set out early last year to revive production at the fabled, four-century-old Coscuez mine, once the Andean country’s largest producer of the gem.
The Toronto-based company promised to operate by the book in a province known for organized crime and dangerous wildcat mining but the sources – who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals – said it had been falling short.
The former employees said managers at Fura ignored repeated requests to provide staff with equipment like masks and safety glasses. Fura managers at the mine denied staff were working without proper equipment. Fura spokeswoman Rosey Perkins said: “All allegations concerning safety and especially our employees are taken seriously.”
“We are in the process of mechanizing the mine and adapting operations and safety standards to comply with Colombian and broader international regulations,” Perkins said.