Archive | Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire, Gemstone Mining

Sapphire rush overwhelms remote Madagascar rainforests – by Edward Carver (Toronto Star – April 2, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

The Associated Press – ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR—A sapphire rush has brought tens of thousands of people into the remote rainforests of eastern Madagascar, disfiguring a protected environmental area and prompting calls for military intervention.

More high-quality sapphires have been found in the biodiverse area known as Corridor Ankeniheny-Zahamena in the past six months than were found in the entire country over the past 20 years, according to Vincent Pardieu, a French gemologist who has been visiting mines there for more than a decade and was in the area last month.

“I can tell you this is big,” Pardieu said. Gem trade shows around the world now have “nice, big, super-clean sapphires” from the region. “It’s the most important discovery in Madagascar for the past 20 or 30 years.” Continue Reading →

Mozambique ruby rush leads to gangland turf war – by AFP (eNCA.com – March 29, 2017)

https://www.enca.com/

MONTEPUEZ, Mozambique – The stakes are high in Montepuez where the discovery of rubies has led to violence among miners that has turned the northern town into what some describe as Mozambique’s own version of the Wild West.

Discovery of the red gemstone in 2009 sparked a “ruby rush”, with thousands of miners arriving to seek their fortune, but often finding only grim conditions, conflict and danger.

“We have a lot of foreigners who come from a lot of countries to look for rubies,” Tania Mabota, chief medical officer of Montepuez Hospital, told AFP. “There’s conflict for territory because it’s a means of subsistence for the artisanal miners,” she added. “One stone is enough for a person to be attacked.” Continue Reading →

Into the green land: Emerald mining in Colombia – by Javier Corso (Al Jazeera.com – March 20, 2017)

http://www.aljazeera.com/

Emerald seekers scour Colombia’s Muzo Valley, searching for the gem that could lift them out of poverty.

Muzo, Colombia – The struggle over land is Colombia’s oldest conflict. For decades the mines of Muzo – widely known as the “emerald capital of the world” – have produced great fortunes for their owners.

In the so-called “Green Wars” during the 1980s, territorial disputes escalated into full-blown conflict as the country’s leading mining families fought over territory.

In those days, the “barequeros” – emerald seekers who dig through debris – gathered by the thousands around the Muzo Valley, hoping that emeralds would arise from the dark soil to rescue them from extreme poverty. Continue Reading →

NEWS RELEASE: Winner of the 2016 Carnegie Mineralogical Award Announced

www.carnegiemnh.org

Carnegie Museum of Natural History named Anthony R. Kampf the winner.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History is pleased to announce that Anthony (Tony) R. Kampf, PhD, is the winner of the 2016 Carnegie Mineralogical Award. Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Director Eric Dorfman, PhD, presented the award to Kampf on February 12, 2017 during the Saturday night awards banquet at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.
The Carnegie Mineralogical Award honors outstanding contributions in mineralogical preservation, conservation, and education and is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the field of mineralogy.

“Dr. Kampf has consistently provided a high level of service to the amateur and professional mineral communities. I am very pleased to see him honored as the recipient of the 2016 Carnegie Mineralogical Award,” said Marc Wilson, curator of collections of the Section of Minerals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Continue Reading →

Adventures of a Australian female opal miner – by Jason Bainbridge (The Age – February 26, 2017)

http://www.theage.com.au/

If Sue Cooper has a problem with her telephone reception, it is a 10-hour round trip for a Telstra Remote-Area Service technician in a four-wheel drive to fix it. If she needs to refuel? That’s a three-hour round trip with a 2000-litre tanker on a dirt track. And if she needs medical attention? Build your own airstrip in order for the Royal Flying Doctor Service to land.

Welcome to Sue Cooper’s life, six to seven months of every year, as an opal miner in western Queensland. One of Sue’s mining leases is on Mount Margaret Station, a pastoral lease that operates as a cattle station. Located about 50 kilometres west of the township of Eromanga (Australia’s furthest town from the sea), Mount Margaret was once Australia’s largest sheep station, occupying 600,000 hectares.

Sue is a relative through marriage, and I visited her mining camp in late 2016. To give a sense of scale out here, the “bush paddock” containing Sue’s small mining lease is a rugged, fenced-off corner of the property comprising 69,000 hectares – roughly the size of Singapore. Often Sue, her partner and her children are the only people out here. Continue Reading →

Fortune hunters flock to Madagascar’s sapphire mines (Agence France-Presse -January 8, 2017)

http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/

(AFP) – The dusty figure is lowered slowly into the ground like a bucket into a well, armed with just a crowbar, a shovel and an old, unreliable headlamp. In the surrounding countryside, bodies rise and sink from hundreds of holes just wide enough for a man.

Children run between the rubble and the smell of cooking wafts from the makeshift shelters where women crouch over pots. Guards armed with hunting rifles stand by, turning the settlement of Betsinefe into a threatening scene. In the world of Madagascan sapphire mining, there are few rules.

Sapphires were first discovered in Madagascar in the late 1990s, and already the Indian Ocean island is one of the world’s largest producers of the precious stones. Its 250-kilometre-long (155-mile) deposit is among the biggest in the world and has sparked a sapphire rush. Continue Reading →

Ring-tailed lemurs face extinction amid sapphire-mining rush in Madagascar – by Ian Johnston (The Indpendent – December 21, 2016)

http://www.independent.co.uk/

The ring-tailed lemur of Madagascar is “disappearing right under our noses” as the iconic animal is hunted and trapped to extinction and its forest home is destroyed by people hunting for sapphires.

Lemurs are the most threatened group of vertebrates on the planet but it was thought the resourceful ring-tailed species – which featured in the hit cartoon film series Madagascar and the BBC’s recent Planet Earth II documentary – would be the last to die out.

However, despite their ability to survive in some of the harshest environments on the Indian Ocean island, they have been mostly reduced to small groups, researchers warned in a paper called Going, Going Gone: Is the Iconic Ring-railed Lemur Headed for Imminent Extirpation? in the journal Primate Conservation. Continue Reading →

A ‘sapphire rush’ has sent at least 45,000 miners into Madagascar’s protected rainforests – by Julia P G Jones (The Conservation – November 21, 2016)

http://theconversation.com/

The rainforests of Didy in eastern Madagascar usually ring with the calls of the indri, the island’s largest lemur. There is a different noise now: the chopping of trees, digging of gravel, and cheers of encouragement from the thousands of illegal miners who have flooded to these forests since sapphires were discovered in late September.

Bemainty, an area in the west of Didy, is experiencing a sapphire rush. Rosey Perkins, a gemologist, visited soon after the rush began in October. She estimated 45,000 people were already involved and that the mine was growing by 1,500 to 2,000 people a day. By now it may be significantly bigger. She told me:

“These gem deposits are found in the gravels of ancient river beds. Some are unusually large and have an attractive blue colour; there have been some phenomenal finds which are drawing in traders from as far away as Sri Lanka.” Continue Reading →

A million artisanal gold miners in Madagascar wait to come out of the shadows – by Emilie Filou (The Guardian – November 15, 2016)

https://www.theguardian.com/

The downturn in commodity prices has hit the mining industry globally but in Madagascar, it coincided with the end of a five-year period of turmoil, precipitated by a coup in 2009. Any hopes for the sector to propel itself back on the development track were dashed.

“Lots of mining companies came to Madagascar to explore [before 2009] but then we had the political crisis, with all the uncertainty and lack of visibility it brought, and even though we had elections in 2013, that uncertainty has not really lifted,” said Willy Ranjatoelina, executive secretary of the Madagascar Chamber of Mines.

In the mid-2000s, Madagascar had given the green light to two large-scale mining projects: Ambatovy, a $8bn (£6.4bn) nickel and cobalt project developed by a consortium led by Sherritt International, and QMM, a $1bn ilmenite project developed by Rio Tinto. Since then new projects have dried up. Continue Reading →

Illegal mining, weak government help Taliban expand in Afghan north – by Jawad Kakar (Reuters India – November 7, 2016)

http://in.reuters.com/

FAIZABAD, AFGHANISTAN – Afghan Taliban militants have strengthened their grip on lucrative illegal mining operations in the north of the country, as security forces focus most of their efforts on battling the insurgency in the volatile south, officials said.

Abuses by local commanders with private militias and beyond the purview of central government have also driven people into the hands of Islamist fighters, the officials added, making it easier for them to profit from small-scale mines in the region.

“The Taliban provide protection for the villagers to mine and the people are happy to do it despite the fact that there’s a presidential decree banning any uncontrolled mining,” said Gul Mohammad Bedar, deputy governor of Badakhshan province. He estimated that the militant group, fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government in Kabul, raised about a third of its funding needs in Badakhshan from deposits of minerals, including semi-precious lapis lazuli, found in its mountains. Continue Reading →

This startup is protecting Afghanistan’s prized rare emeralds – by Parija Kavilanz (CNN Money.com – August 29, 2016)

http://money.cnn.com/

In Afghanistan, where decades of warfare have ravaged the country, there’s a beautiful green oasis tucked between the mountains that’s home to something rare and precious.

The Panjshir Valley, located north of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, is an area rich with more than 172 emerald mines. Known as Panjshir emeralds, the gems boast a unique bluish-green color that make them among the country’s most-iconic treasures.

Entrepreneur Habib Mohebi grew up in Kabul hearing about the emerald mines from friends local to that area. Years later, that knowledge would reconnect him to his homeland in a distinctive way.

Mohebi is the co-founder of Aria Gems, a company that mines and exports Panjshir emeralds. Continue Reading →

The dark side of gem stones in Colombia and beyond – by Eugen Iladi (Columbia Reports – July 26, 2016)

http://colombiareports.com/

The global market for colored gemstones, such as emeralds and rubies, is dominated by a few major players. One of the largest is Gemfields Plc, a U.K.-registered, London Stock Exchange-listed company with significant mining operations in Zambia, Mozambique, India, Sri Lanka and, recently, Colombia.

At first glance, things appear rosy at Gemfields, but a closer look reveals questionable deals and associations. As with blood diamonds, the precious stone trade purports to offer transparency, but many of its practices are murky and dark.

In September 2015, Gemfields announced a series of acquisitions in Colombia. The main target was a 70 percent stake in the Coscuez emerald mine in the mountainous province of Boyacá, one of the world’s best sources of emeralds. Continue Reading →

Emerald city: How gemstone-rich Colombia is embracing ethical sourcing – by Nathalie Atkinson (Globe and Mail – July 15, 2016)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

It may be churlish of me to highlight this during wedding season, but as scientist and jeweller Aja Raden points out in her cultural history Stoned, gemstones are “just colourful gravel.” She elaborates on the fraught history and desire around precious objects – pearls, emeralds, wristwatches – with diamonds as one cautionary tale via Marie Antoinette, whose downfall was precipitated by jewellery.

The human history of attraction to bright shiny objects has not exactly been about supply chain integrity or corporate social responsibility – instead, think envy, greed, violence, suffering, slavery, incursions and the guillotine.

To understand the role of gems and jewels in luxury today, it’s necessary to consider, as Raden does, the brilliant “A diamond is forever” campaign that De Beers whipped up in 1947 after the South African diamond rush that saw the company gain control of 99 per cent of the planet’s diamonds. Continue Reading →

New funding to boost ruby mining – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – July 4, 2016)

http://www.miningweekly.com/page/americas-home

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Coloured-gemstone miner and marketer Gemfields announced on Monday that it had finalised four new debt financing facilities totalling $65-million.

Gemfields CFO Janet Boyce said Gemfields now had the necessary funding to increase its rough ruby production to 20-million carats a year and rough emerald production to more than 40-million carats a year in the next three years.

The company outlined that nearly 70% of the new funding was destined for the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique. Headed by CEO Ian Harebottle, Gemfields is a London-headquartered Aim-listed multinational natural resources company in which JSE-listed Pallinghurst, headed by Brian Gilbertson, has a key investment. Continue Reading →

Money from Afghanistan’s ‘conflict jewels’ fuels war – activists – by Josh Smith and Mirwais Harooni (Reuters U.K. – June 7, 2016)

http://uk.reuters.com/

KABUL – The illegal mining of some of Afghanistan’s most important minerals is funnelling millions of dollars into the hands of insurgents and corrupt warlords, according to activists and officials who say the money is fuelling the conflict.

The mountains of Afghanistan hold as much as $1 trillion (£693.58 billion) to $3 trillion in mineral resources, according to estimates by the U.S. and Afghan governments, including world-famous lapis lazuli, a deep blue, semi-precious stone that has been mined in northern Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province for thousands of years.

“In the current circumstances, where 50 percent of the mining revenue is going to the Taliban, and before that it was going to armed groups, by any reasonable definition lapis is a conflict mineral,” said Stephen Carter, a researcher for Global Witness, a non-profit watchdog that investigates the links between natural resources, corruption and conflict. Continue Reading →