November 14, 2007

Mining in Barue banned

Government has cancelled all licences granted for the mining for precious stones, mainly tourmaline and rubelite, in Barue district, in the central province od Manica, reports the daily "Noticias". A deposit of rubelite, which is a highly valued, deep red form of tourmaline was recently discovered in the Barue locality of Nhampassa, and as acted as a magnet attracting traffickers in precious stones from as far away as Nigeria and Mali. The paper reports that a police unit dispatched to Nhampassa has expelled all the foreigners who had rushed to the area to buy the stones from Mozambican artisan miners who were selling them for a pittance. In a dispatch, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Esperanca Bias, has outlawed all mining or sale of precious stones in Barue. Any person found in possession of these minerals or found trying to sell them will face heavy fines, and the stones will be confiscated.
Rubelite in particular is very valuable, with American gem dealers selling it for 190 dollars per carat (200 milligrams). Exceptionally fine stones can sell for 1,000 dollars per carat. Looting by foreign traffickers in Nhampassa was thus depriving the Mozambican state of considerable revenue. The Manica provincial director of Mineral Resources, Simao Valoi, said that the 10 kilos of tourmaline and rubelite seized from the illegal operators, will revert to the state. During the Nhampassa rubelite rush, one person, now identified as a 12 year old boy, died when a tree collapsed on top of a pit dug to find the minerals, and another person was injured. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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