25 Aug 2019
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Colombia
Green & Gorgeous
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jul 2 2018 3:46PM
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Reference: 16482  

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Crown of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception known as the Crown of the Andes
Crown of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception known as the Crown of the Andes
As Latin America’s fourth largest economy, Colombia is home to some of the finest emeralds around the world. According to studies, 80 per cent of its vast emerald reserves still remain under the ground, which makes it a potential mining destination.

Colombia has an abundant mineral wealth and emerald constitutes an important part of its mineral reserves. Coal is the main mineral produced in the country. Other minerals mined in the country are gold reef, alluvial gold, silver, clay, copper, iron, gravel, sand, gemstones, ferronickel, asbestos, kaolin, lime, limestone, silicates, phosphates and sulphur, among others.

Gold production can be found in the departments of Antioquia in the north-west region, Chocó in the west, Tolima in the south-west and Santander in the north-east of the country. While emerald production is mostly found in the department of Boyacá in the north-east and in some areas of the department of Cundinamarca in the interior of the country.

Colombian emeralds are world renowned for their sparkle and the ‘green fire’ that glows within. Colombia is the world’s largest emerald supplier by volume, responsible for half of the world’s emerald value supply. Also, Colombian emeralds attract a higher value per carat than emeralds from Zambia and Brazil. At present, Colombian emerald mining industry accounts for 2 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Emerald Mining & ‘Green War’
As Colombian emeralds are known for their value in the international markets, it has also given rise to illegal trade. According to Wikipedia, Colombia has dealt with a civil war starting from the mid-1950s that is still taking place in the country. This sixty-year conflict between left-wing guerrilla groups, right-wing paramilitary groups, Colombian drug cartels, and the Government, has displaced millions and has killed thousands of people. The emerald trade is at the center of funding this ongoing civil conflict in Colombia. Emeralds have helped fund many of the armed non-state actors (NSAs) involved in the Colombian internal conflict through means of emerald smuggling and the selling of these precious stones on the international black market.

Emerald seekers, called quaqueros, poach on the mines, particularly along the river valleys of Colombia’s emerald zone. During the day they scour the river beds and scavenge the mining fields for overlooked emeralds in private mines. The stones that are found in the river are weighed and handed over to esmeralderos. Then these stones are sold in Bogotá. This illegal mining activity is monitored by the National Police, but arrests are infrequent and jail sentences are usually short.

Although the ‘Green War’ is over, there is still a low-level conflict of assassinations and murders as rival groups vie for access to the gemstones.

COLOMBIAN PEACE PROCESS
On 24th November 2016, the Colombian Government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC–EP) signed a treaty, thus bringing an end to a 52-year old conflict, which is known as the oldest ongoing armed conflict in the Americas.

Negotiations starting in September 2012, the Colombian peace process took place in Oslo, Norway, and Havana, Cuba. Negotiators announced a final agreement to end the conflict and build a lasting peace on 24th August 2016. However, a referendum to ratify the deal on 2nd October 2016 was unsuccessful after 50.2 per cent of voters voted against the agreement with 49.8 per cent voting in favour. Afterward, the Colombian government and the FARC signed a revised peace deal on November 24 and sent it to Congress for ratification instead of conducting a second referendum. Both houses of Congress ratified the revised peace agreement on November 29-30, 2016, thus marking an end to the conflict.

The process even earned Santos a Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.

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