Archive | Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, Gemstone Mining

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 →

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 →