GIA researchers undertake study at Brazil’s key gemstone mining areas

The team also meets Heitor Dimas Barbosa, the first discoverer of Paraíba tourmaline
GIA researchers undertake study at Brazil’s key gemstone mining areas

A research was undertaken by a team of field researchers from GIA (Gemological Institute of America) at key gemstone mining areas in Brazil, to gather information and document the current state of colored stone mines, particularly emerald and tourmaline. The endeavour was conducted between March 31 to April 17, across the states of Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba, where the researchers interviewed Heitor Dimas Barbosa, the first discoverer of Paraíba tourmaline, in the original mine tunnel in Batalha where he first encountered the now famous gem.

The GIA team included of Field Gemologist Andrew Lucas, Director of West Coast Identification Shane McClure, Video Producer Pedro Padua, and Gems & Gemology Editor-in-Chief Duncan Pay, along with Brian Cook, geologist and co-owner of Nature’s Geometry, and Sergio Martins, president of the Brazilian gemstone cutting and marketing firm Stone World.

The researchers found the Belmont mine in Minas Gerais moving to new open pits while continuing to develop their underground mining and building a new state of the art rough processing and sorting facility; they are also cutting around 60 percent of their own production, focusing on higher quality stones. In Nova Era, production at mines like the Monte Belo mine yield high quality emeralds from pockets. The Cruzeiro tourmaline mine has prolific production from huge pegmatites, and all of its rubellite tourmaline goes to Shenzhen, China for cutting and then sale.

“We’ve never seen a mine produce the amount and quality of material as the tourmaline we saw coming from the massive pegmatites at the Cruzeiro mine,” added Lucas. Mining and prospecting remains very strong in the sates of Paraíiba and Rio Grande do Norte for highly-valuable Paraíba tourmaline.

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