Archive | Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, Gemstone Mining

Miner miracle: Scots jeweller joins global fight to end unethical trade in gems from Africa – by Megan McEachern (The Sunday Post – November 4, 2019)

Home

Deep in Tanzania’s Umba Valley, Raheli digs into rocky soil.

It is back-breaking work and the sweat rolls down her face as she pulls out a small, glittering stone. Raheli, one of Tanzania’s female gem miners, is paid a little money for her labours.

Meanwhile, the gem may travel hundreds of miles to end up on a foreign jewellery counter, to be sold perhaps for thousands of pounds, euros, or dollars. In just the past two decades, seven African countries have endured brutal civil conflicts fuelled by precious stones, predominantly diamonds. These include Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Films like Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, have helped bring to light the intensification of civil wars fuelled by diamonds financing militaries and rebel militias. But the human rights abuses, horrific violence and child labour continues. Continue Reading →

Workers at Fura emerald mine in Colombia labor in unsafe conditions: ex-employees – by Julia Symmes Cobb (Reuters U.S. – October 9, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

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. Continue Reading →

Buying gems in Asia: What travelers need to know – by Ronan O’Connell (CNN Travel – August 1, 2018)

https://www.cnn.com/

(CNN) — Asia might be home to some of the world’s major gem trading hubs, but for tourists looking to buy precious stones when they travel in the region, fears of fakes and scams can be a huge deterrent. However, gemologists say there’s little to worry about if travelers are careful and heed some basic tips on how to discern real stones from the phonies.

Thailand, Hong Kong and Jaipur in India are three of Asia’s key gem trading centers, says Russell Shor, senior analyst for the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), a non-profit organization that specializes in education, research and standards in the gem trade.

Jaipur is India’s hub for the sale of gems, which are sold at kiosks, stores and street markets throughout its Old City area. While Jaipur’s gem trade focuses mostly on lower-end stones, Hong Kong is the region’s No. 1 location for expensive gems, including “million-dollar-plus jade and ruby pieces,” says Shor. Continue Reading →

Tricks and stones: the gem traders of Chanthaburi – by Luke Duggleby (South China Morning Post – August 9, 2014)

https://www.scmp.com/

Unregulated mining stripped Chanthaburi of its authentic gemstones. Now the ethically dubious techniques that are sustaining trade in the Thai town are threatening the industry.

Every morning, in a small wooden pavilion overlooking a creek, 64-year-old Olan Phengkit eats a breakfast of steamed dumplings. Short in stature, with an admirably large belly, Olan has been involved in the mining, selling and buying of gemstones since his youth.

The creek, 20 metres below and roughly half the size of a football pitch, is full of dark, murky water. It shows the extent of his mining activities. “I stopped one year ago because I simply ran out of land,” he says, pushing his gemstone-viewing goggles onto his forehead, “so now I just buy and sell.”

Continue Reading →

The Women Emerald Miners of Colombia – by Laura Millan (Bloomberg News – April 13, 2019)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Dubai-based Fura Gems is hiring dozens of women to help bring De Beers-like discipline to a once violent and wild industry.

Nubia Galeano slips the short-handled pick into her left rubber boot and turns on her headlamp as she enters a steaming, cramped tunnel, one of thousands that crisscross the vast Coscuez emerald mine. The corridor narrows, and Galeano, already dripping in sweat, is soon crawling on all fours.

When she reaches a space so tight her small body barely fits, she pulls out her pick and starts digging. The 45-year-old, single mother of two fills her sack with up to 40 pounds at once and crawls backward until she can stand back up and retrace her steps to the surface.

Outside, she washes the load in a small stream, indifferent to the swarming bugs and the buzz of dozens of other miners around her. Adept at spotting the tiniest speck of green, Galeano quickly realizes she’s come up empty-handed. Continue Reading →

[Gemfields] Meet the Company That’s Changing the Gem Mining Industry, One Ethically Sourced Ruby at a Time – by Mark Ellwood (Robb Report – April 12, 2019)

https://robbreport.com/

It’s a stark, startling contrast. Beautiful, precious jewels, like rubies, emeralds and sapphires, are often sourced in dismal conditions where disadvantaged workers and lawlessness make it easy for valuable stones to trade hands under unscrupulous circumstances. In remote, rural parts of Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, far from the markets where most of the stones are sold, there’s little pressure—or appetite—to improve.

Gemfields is bidding to change the mining culture. The London-based company is committed to sustainable mining wherever it sources stones, including at its ruby mine in Mozambique and emerald vein in Zambia. To support that mission, it spends 32 cents of every dollar in revenue on ethical practices—social programs, sustainable initiatives, taxes and royalties often dodged by rivals, and pays staffers about 10 percent more than the industry’s minimum wage.

Gemfields’ success in the past several years—the company has sold more than $425 million through its ruby auctions since the sales started in 2014— underscores that a steady supply of quality stones from a qualified, ethical source is a potentially lucrative proposition. Continue Reading →

Company walks fine line to revive Colombia emerald mine – by Julia Symmes Cobb and Susan Taylor (Reuters U.S. – December 12, 2018)

https://www.reuters.com/

COSCUEZ, Colombia/TORONTO (Reuters) – A tiny company is trying to breathe new life into a fabled, four-century-old Colombian emerald mine without triggering unrest among wary locals who fear being shut out of the tunnels where they hunt for gems and make a meager living.

Fura Gems, the first listed emerald miner to operate in Colombia, has $10 million invested to date. The company, based in Dubai and listed in Canada, faces a community relations test as it tries to rehabilitate Coscuez, the country’s top producer until sometime after 1998, as declining investment and outdated mining methods eroded output.

For decades, residents have scoured the dozens of tunnels crisscrossing Coscuez for stones to buy their next meal. Locals say there are hundreds of people digging daily. Fura has pledged to gradually phase out access to the shafts while helping locals find alternative employment like baking, sewing and poultry farming. The company hopes this will help prevent security problems like those that hit a mine in nearby Muzo, known as the world’s emerald capital. Continue Reading →

Colombia moves to put emeralds on a par with Roquefort – by Gideon Long (Financial Times – November 9, 2018)

https://www.ft.com/

Coscuez, Colombia –  Roquefort cheese, Scotch whisky, Cornish pasties and Spanish serrano ham are foods with one thing in common: they are all protected by appellation of origin.

Until now, this protection has been granted mostly to food and drink. The French have their appellation d’origine contrôlée to stop imposters passing off cheap plonk as Bordeaux; Italy’s denominazione di origine protetta safeguards everything from Parmesan to balsamic vinegar from Modena.

Now, Colombia wants to do something similar with its emeralds. The country’s miners are seeking appellation of origin (AO) status for their green gemstones. If they succeed, not only would Colombian emeralds become the first precious gemstones in the world to be protected on the basis of origin, but the move could also transform an industry that was once a vipers’ nest of lawlessness. Only Mexican amber from Chiapas, considered a semi-precious stone, has similar status. Continue Reading →

Giant 5,655-carat emerald crystal with ‘golden green hue’ discovered by miners – by Jennifer Earl (Fox News – October 31, 2018)

https://www.foxnews.com/

A massive emerald crystal was unearthed in the world’s largest emerald mine in Zambia in early October. Geologist Debapriya Rakshit and experienced miner Richard Kapeta uncovered the impressive 5,655-carat emerald inside the largest open-pit mine in Kagem, which is partially owned by Gemfields — a London-based mining company. The gemstones inside the mine reportedly formed hundreds of millions of years ago.

The 5,655-carat Zambian emerald crystal has “remarkable clarity and a perfectly balanced golden green hue,” Gemfields described in a Monday news release. It was spotted on Oct. 2 in the eastern part of the Kagem mine, where a team of miners has found luck in the past few months.

“This area of the mine has proven to be particularly fertile in recent months with the Kagem team recovering several significant crystals there, but none with the combined size, color and clarity of the Lion Emerald,” the mining company said. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Eradicating A Centuries Old Gender Barrier/First-Ever All-Female Emerald Mining Team Launched by FURA Gems (October 29, 2018)

Women in Colombia Take a Big Leap Forward in Male Dominated Industry

At the second World Emerald Symposium in Bogota this month, Fura Gems launched its All-Female Wash Plant Project, the first of its kind not only in the gemstone industry, but also in the mining sector.

Traditionally, women in West Boyaca have contributed to emerald mining as barequeras, washing tailings to find rough emerald, but until now had only been employed for formal work in areas such as general services, (kitchen and cleaning) at the Coscuez Emerald Mine.

Women in West Boyaca led the charge by expressing the desire to take a more active role in emerald mining – seeking out employment from Fura Gems.

The women working in the wash plant completed a safety and mining competencies course in their initial months at Fura Gems. They have also been trained to wash, sort, and grade emeralds at a temporary facility, with a modernized installation being prepared for Q1 of 2019. Continue Reading →

Illegal miners try their luck in Mozambique ruby rush (News24.com – October 7, 2018)

https://www.news24.com/

Deep inside a forest, sweating men haul earth out of rough excavation holes and carry it in bags on their backs to a stream. Then they sift for the small, red stones that could make their fortune – miners say they have sold single rubies for thousands of dollars, many times the local monthly wage which is typically under $200.

In northern Mozambique, informal – and illegal – ruby mining is a tough business that has attracted thousands of itinerant workers despite strenuous crackdowns by police and private guards.

The ruby deposits, which were discovered only nine years ago, are relatively accessible in shallow ground, triggering the sudden birth of a frantic wildcat mining industry. Continue Reading →

Mozambique’s Ruby Mining Goes From ‘Wild West’ to Big Business – by Matthew Hill and Borges Nhamire (Bloomberg News – August 13, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Sebastiao Pedro struck it lucky in 2014 when, as a 21-year-old small-scale miner, he found a large red ruby in northern Mozambique. He sold it to a buyer from Vietnam for $43,000, returned to his family 900 miles away and built a house with the proceeds. Then the money ran out.

This year he went back to Montepuez, home to the world’s biggest known ruby deposit, hoping to find another small fortune. He was disappointed. A crackdown by the authorities has seen thousands of local diggers and traders arrested.Hundreds of others from as far away as Thailand have been deported.

“The situation is difficult because the police have been sending people away and the concession areas are full of company security and we can no longer work,” Pedro said as he and five fellow diggers in dust-stained clothes scratched around in the gravel beside a small dam. Continue Reading →

Sapphire secrets: they aren’t all blue, and mining them requires luck plus labour – by Lynda Lawson (The Conversation – August 8, 2018)

https://theconversation.com/

Lynda Lawson receives funding from Tiffany and Co Foundation and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) , a German development agency.

I first remember seeing sapphires as a teenager in a jeweller’s shop in Silver Street in pre-Khmer Rouge Phnom Penh – the deep saturated blues of the gems from Palin on the border with Thailand were captivating. The sapphires my father bought that day are still in the family long after any trace of Silver Street has disappeared.

It was not until recently when I met a female sapphire miner in Madagascar that I began to appreciate the hard labour involved in the mining of these stones across Africa and Asia. Sapphires are crystals of the mineral corundum, made up mostly of atoms of aluminium and oxygen in a 2 to 3 ratio (Al₂0₃).

The chemical bonds of aluminium and oxygen are particularly tight, making the sapphire one of the hardest minerals known – 9 out of 10 on a measure of hardness used for minerals known as Moh’s scale. Sapphires are second to diamonds in hardness. Continue Reading →

Swedish royal jewels stolen by thieves who fled by speedboat – by Euan McKirdy, Joshua Berlinger and Rory Smith (CNN.com – August 1, 2018)

https://www.cnn.com/

(CNN)Thieves stole priceless royal artifacts in a daring raid on a Swedish cathedral before escaping by speedboat, police said. The thieves made off with jewels belonging to former Swedish monarchs Karl IX and Kristina from the Strängnäs Cathedral to the west of the capital, Stockholm, on Tuesday.

Two crowns and a golden orb adorned with a crucifix were taken from the cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century, according to a police report. The items date from the early 17th century.

A witness told Swedish media that he was eating lunch when he saw two people running toward a boat, which they sped away in. Continue Reading →

Myanmar jade industry gathers dust despite China-led boom – by Thurein Hla Htway and Yuichi Nitta (Nikkei Asian Review – July 19, 2018)

https://asia.nikkei.com/

NAYPYITAW — The jade mining industry in Myanmar, one of the world’s richest sources of the gem, is scrambling to meet rising Chinese demand, sometimes at the cost of human lives.

Yet this booming trade has not translated into growth beyond the dangerous work of extraction. In fact, Myanmar’s jade processing industry has languished, mainly owing to a lack of capital.

During the annual legal trade exhibition last month in Naypyitaw, the country’s capital, 423 million euros ($493 million) of the ornamental green stone was sold, 21.4% more than last year. Continue Reading →