Archive | Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, Gemstone Mining

Welcome to White Cliffs: The outback opal mining town so hot locals live underground to escape the blistering heat and face a 300km trek to the supermarket – but they love the peace and quiet – by Belinda Cleary (Daily Mail Australia – April 8, 2018)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

Welcome to White Cliffs, the tiny Australian desert town where people live underground to escape the blistering summer sun. The town is a ‘mixed bag’ according to the locals – there’s everyone from war veterans escaping the horrors of Vietnam and Afghanistan to retired policemen and of course, opal miners who dream of getting rich.

Just 100 people live in the tiny town, which is 1000 kilometres north-west of Sydney and 300km from the nearest supermarket. In summer, the temperature soars to almost 50 degrees, and from above the land appears flat, hostile and unlivable.

Some estimate there are about 50,000 disused holes created by hopeful Opal miners, searching for a rock to seal their fortune – this hope left the land looking similar to the surface of the moon from above. Continue Reading →

Tanzania president inaugurates wall around gem mines (Straits Times – April 7, 2018)

http://www.straitstimes.com/

NAIROBI (AFP) – Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday (April 6) inaugurated a 24-kilometre around the country’s tanzanite mines to prevent smuggling of the precious violet-blue stones, which are unique to the East African country.

Magufuli in September ordered the army to build the wall around the mines, located in the Mererani hills near Mount Kilimanjaro.

Several metres high, the mustard-yellow wall has only one entrance, which is secured by the army. It cost 1.8 million euros (S$2.9 million), according to official figures. Continue Reading →

On the trail of rubies and gems … – by Phyo Wai Kyaw (Myanmar Times – March 23, 2018)

https://www.mmtimes.com/

It is widely believed that depending on sheer luck, some gemstone miners strike it rich without any effort on their part, while others spend their lifetime in the mines unable to find even one valuable gem

When asked which period he misses the most during his mining career in Mogok, U Aung Than, without any hesitation, answered it was during the mid 1970s and around 1990s. In an exclusive interview last week, he described those thriving times as ‘illegal’ and ‘black marketing’ periods.

U Aung Than, who is now 58 years old, is from Maing Thar ethnic group and grew up in Mogok’s mining area since he was a teen. During the British rule, due to scarcity of labor in the mining companies, Shan-Chinese ethnics called Maing Thar, who were industrious and were from the Myanmar-China border, were given jobs, and since that time they were working as miners in Mogok. Continue Reading →

The search for more responsible rubies – by Joshua Carroll (Frontier Myanmar – February 13, 2018)

https://frontiermyanmar.net/

BEFORE SHE arrived in Mogok, Ms Amber Cernov was wary of the horror stories she’d heard about the secretive ruby mining region. Foreigners are usually denied access to the town in northern Mandalay Region and she had pictured a grim landscape ravaged by military-owned companies, hidden from the world. But when she finally stepped foot in the resource-rich valley she was pleasantly surprised.

“You think it’s going to be Mordor and it’s not,” said Cernov as she sat behind the counter at her small but sleek store in downtown Yangon.

“Mogok is actually a very beautiful town,” she adds. “Yes, you can see the scars from mining… so I’m not saying there’s no negative environmental impact, but I was quite surprised at how much better it looked than my expectations.” Continue Reading →

Gemfields transparent, proactive in rebutting rights allegations – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – February 12, 2018)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Coloured gemstones company Gemfields has been transparently proactive in rebutting claims of human rights abuses in Mozambique, where it mines rubies.

“We’ve voluntarily elected to issue this statement,” Gemfields, headed by CEO Sean Gilbertson, commented in a release on Monday about UK-based law firm Leigh Day filing a claim in the High Court of England and Wales against Gemfields and its subsidiary, Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM), on behalf of 29 individuals living near the MRM ruby mining licence area in northern Mozambique.

The company stated in the release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online that the court process had not yet commenced on account of the claim filed not yet being served on Gemfields or MRM. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Global Trends in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM): A review of key numbers and issues (International Institute for Environmental and Development – January 22, 2018)

http://www.iisd.org/

For the entire report: https://www.iisd.org/sites/default/files/publications/igf-asm-global-trends.pdf

Global Trends in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM): A review of key numbers and issues was prepared by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) for the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (IGF).

ASM has experienced explosive growth in recent years due to the rising value of mineral prices and the increasing difficulty of earning a living from agriculture and other rural activities. An estimated 40.5 million people were directly engaged in ASM in 2017, up from 30 million in 2014, 13 million in 1999 and 6 million in 1993. That compares with only 7 million people working in industrial mining in 2014.

ASM is generally pursued as a route out of poverty or as an activity to complement insufficient income, especially in communities where alternative employment is hard to come by. ASM is also a very diverse sector. Its main challenges vary from region to region—and often from site to site. Continue Reading →

Colombian Emerald Industry: Winds of Change – by Darwin Fortaleché, Andrew Lucas, Jonathan Muyal, Tao Hsu, and Pedro Padua (Gems and Gemology – Fall 2017)

https://www.gia.edu/

Colombia is synonymous with fine emerald, and production is believed to date back well over a thousand years. Over the centuries the beautiful verdant gemstone, which emerges from areas that are also a lush green, has been linked to violence and human exploitation. Nevertheless, the desire of the Colombian people to mine for this treasure and strike it rich has endured, with enough dreams coming true to drive their passion.

In recent years, industry changes have accelerated, perhaps more profoundly than ever before. While government ownership and regulation, criminal activity, and violence have affected production over the years, the industry’s greatest opportunities may still be ahead. Multinational companies are investing heavily in Colombian emerald mining, which has led to modernization.

The government’s position on emerald mining has also improved dramatically in this period. Calls for transparency and traceability have led to branding and a revamping of the industry’s image. The loose system of independent miners (figure 1) is seeing efforts at formalization. These landmark changes are occurring at a time when most of the country’s emerald reserves have yet to be mined. Continue Reading →

The Problem with Pigeon’s Blood Rubies – by David Federman (Gem Obsessed – May 25, 2016)

https://www.gemobsessed.com/

Cynics say that history exists to be ignored. Therefore, they argue, it has no choice but to keep repeating itself. What’s more, they’ll tell you no sphere of human activity is immune from history’s sad, stubborn rule of recurrence–even the jewelry industry.

They have a point. Dire repetition of the past seems hard at work in the world ruby market where expensive stones are increasingly unsalable without gem lab reports. In this case, labs are asked to authenticate a ruby’s color as the most precious hue of all: “pigeon’s-blood red.” No pedigree, no purchase.

This proliferation of reports certifying that stones exhibit “pigeon’s blood red” marks the second great paper chase for lab documents in 35 years. In 1979, American Gemological Laboratories introduced the first-ever colored stone grading reports. Using a 1.0 to 10.0 numerical color rating scale, fine rubies were expected to have grades of 3.5 on that scale to qualify for top color-excellence. Continue Reading →

ONE MAN’S TRASH: How Montana Gold Rushers Literally Threw Away a Fortune in Sapphires – by Levi Higgs (The Daily Beast – January 12, 2018)

https://www.thedailybeast.com/

In 1866, Montana—specifically the Yogo Gulch—was awash with disappointed prospectors, tossing out the blue pebbles they found in their sluice boxes as they panned for gold.

In the mid-19th century, the cry heard across the American West was “There’s gold in them thar hills!” In the great Treasure State of Montana, little did the prospectors know that they should have instead been proclaiming the presence of one of the highest quality (and most expensive) gemstones the world over, known today as the Montana Sapphire.

In 1866, the Little Belt Mountain Range of Montana—specifically the Yogo Gulch—was awash with disappointed prospectors, tossing out the blue pebbles they found in their sluice boxes as they panned for gold. And while those pebbles were not diamonds in the rough, they were sapphires—and of an extremely lucrative variety.

Other sapphires found throughout the state had been more of the industrial quality, and in hues that are less than desirable at the time: greens, pinks, or colorless. Continue Reading →

Prospectors, barons and suits: Multinationals move in to Colombia’s emerald mountains (The Economist – January 4, 2018)

https://www.economist.com/

They offer steady jobs, but some miners would rather hunt stones on their own

AT THE bottom of a muddy basin surrounded by verdant mountains, Dora Alicia Hernández combs through black sludge and rock in the faint hope of finding an emerald valuable enough to lift her out of poverty. “All we need is one shiny stone,” she says, as rainclouds smother the mountains overhead. “Then we can get out of here.”

Alicia is seeking fortune near Muzo, a mountain town north of Bogotá that has attracted guaqueros (prospectors) from across Colombia since pre-colonial times. The region is renowned for both the quality and size of its emeralds.

Of the 20 that have sold at auction for more than $100,000 a carat, 19 were from Muzo or nearby. Guaqueros speak reverently of Fura, an 11,000-carat rock named after a mythical philandering wife who wept emeralds. Victor Carranza, who had started out as a guaquero and became Colombia’s emerald tsar, found it in 1999. As far as anyone knows, it has never been sold. Continue Reading →

HOW ETHICAL IS YOUR JEWELLERY? – by Ali Gray (Elle U.K. – December 8, 2017)

http://www.elleuk.com/

If you’re not asking questions about your gemstones, now’s the time to start

Thanks partly to Paris Hilton and the Ab Fab ladies, excessive opulence was everywhere during the ’90s and early ’00s. The “bling” mentality was the cultural norm – and, when it came to jewellery, many consumers were more concerned with the status it brought them than where the stones were sourced.

But over the past decade, the tides have been turning. Our stronghold on materialism has relaxed, making way for a generation that’s favouring more considered purchases.

When it comes to jewellery, that added consideration has led to an increased demand for ethical gemstones. If you saw the 2006 film Blood Diamond and began to question your own jewellery collection, you’re not alone. The impact from the Leonardo DiCaprio drama seemed to add to a conversation that was already gaining traction. More and more women were receiving the message: our jewellery decisions matter. Continue Reading →

Afghanistan’s Beautiful Link to Da Vinci’s $450 Million ‘Salvator Mundi’ – by Suleiman Wali (Huffington Post – November 20, 2017)

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Itis difficult to imagine that the Renaissance-era painting by Leonardo da Vinci that was recently auctioned in New York for $450 million has any kind of relationship with Afghanistan, one of the poorest countries in the world.

On the same day that the jaw-dropping Christie’s sale of Salvator Mundi (Italian for Savior of the World) shattered world records — and went for more than seven million times as much as it sold for in 1958 ($60!) — it was reported, coincidentally, that Afghanistan’s opium production also hit a new record high, rising 87 percent from last year.

However, it is not in the statistics, but in the aesthetics where an incredibly intimate connection can be made. The predominant color in the mesmerizing Salvator Mundi — the celestial, vivid blue that clothes Jesus Christ himself — hails from the rich and forbidding caves of the Sar-e-Sang valley in Afghanistan’s mountainous Badakhshan province. The source of this blue is the country’s lapis lazuli, a semiprecious gemstone that was once more expensive per ounce than gold. Continue Reading →

Mine Blown: What I Saw At The World’s Single Largest Emerald Mine In Zambia, & Beyond -by Varun Rana (MensXP.com – August 2017)

http://www.mensxp.com/

Not many people get to visit a gemstone mine in Africa. So when Gemfields invited me to be part of a press trip to Zambia’s Copperbelt Province—to Kagem, the single largest emerald mine in the world—I jumped at it.

Like India, Zambia was once a British colony, and was known as Northern Rhodesia till it gained independence in 1964. Because of this, almost everybody speaks English, which makes life very easy.

We reached the mining camp on the night of 14th June, and were quickly shown to our rooms. After we had showered, we gathered at the Lake House, the mining camp’s watering hole. As I had been warned, I took care not to step on the sinuous trails of dangerous army of ants that moved like dark mercury across the walkways. One bite from a single ant is said to be excruciatingly painful. Imagine stepping on an entire foraging party! Continue Reading →

Chinese demand for rubies expected to sparkle – by Tess Ingram (Australian Financial Review – July 9, 2017)

http://www.afr.com/

The takeover of London-listed gemstone miner Gemfields will leave an Australian ruby junior as the only direct-listed exposure to a burgeoning sector keenly watched by China.

Gemfields, one of the world’s largest miners of coloured gemstones and the owner of the Faberge jewellery brand, will be delisted at the end of the month after its major shareholder Pallinghurst Resources triumphed in a bidding war for the company over China’s Fosun Gold Holdings.

Minority shareholders in Gemfields were outraged when Pallinghurst, a South-African listed fund chaired by former BHP Billiton chief Brian Gilbertson, lobbed a nil-premium, all-share bid in May for the 53 per cent of the company it didn’t already own. Despite a rival cash bid from the Chinese conglomerate, Pallinghurst’s strong grip on Gemfields saw it prevail, with it now holding about 85 per cent of the company ahead of its offer closing on July 18. Continue Reading →

Glittering prize: The booming demand for opals – by Serena Solomon (BBC.com – June 29, 2017)

http://www.bbc.com/

Coober Pedy, South Australia – As the 40ft (12m) drill rattles down through the red dirt, miner Craig Stutley makes a statement that sounds a lot like what he said 30 minutes ago. “This is the hole,” says the 45-year-old. Mr Stutley’s mining partner, Richard Saunders, who seems eternally caked in dusty soil, mumbles in agreement.

The two men are standing in the middle of the sun-bleached South Australian outback, hunting for opals, the rare gemstones that can sparkle with a rainbow of different colours. They sift through the earth that the test drill pulls up, searching for signs of opals that could potentially make them a fortune.

With the largest, best-quality Australian opals worth more than £600,000 thanks to soaring demand from jewellers around the world, there is a vast amount of money to be – potentially – made. The trouble is that opals are so scarce. Even in designated opal fields, you need luck, and months, or even years, of patience to find them. Continue Reading →