Supporting Small Communities
On our most recent trip to Mozambique we spent the majority of our time in the Northern region of the Cabo Delgado Province. This is a wild and wonderful area, the further one travels North in Mozambique the more wild it becomes. Here we met with our good friend Antonio, a leader in the local community. Antonio, though not a traditional tribal leader, has helped build a school, meeting hall and many other small dwellings to help build up his community. Being the most knowledgeable about the mineral deposits in the surrounding areas we naturally looked to him not only source good quality stones but also to gain permission from himself and the people of the area. Most small towns in this part of Mozambique have some knowledge or interest of gem mining, yet very few know more than hearsay or that there is more to sourcing prized gems stones than simply picking a likely spot and digging.
Due to Mozambique’s sometimes volatile nature there has also been only a very slow show of foreign interests in development. For this reason many small artisanal mining efforts consist of nothing more than sharpened sticks for digging and the use of surrounding loose rocks to beat against the host rocks containing gems in an attempt to retrieve them. In order to try to set up reliable source of income for the locals we provided picks, shovels, hammers, chisels and other such equipment that could easily be carried to the remote and difficult to access deposits. We also could see that there was a distinct lack of safety equipment so we felt it necessary to get this up to scratch as well. From here helped teach the miners on how to identify the best places to mine and provided them with geological maps and the basic knowledge of how to read them.
Mozambique has quite an active geological past and from this many deposits called pegmatites have formed and it is in these mineral rich veins that you can find such gems as aquamarine, tourmaline, quartz, green beryl topaz and much more. After teaching them how to recognise, follow and identify the best parts of these deposits we set to work digging. After the horror of seeing one miner brutally smashing a gem bearing rock with another rock in an attempt to retrieve the crystal. I sat down with those responsible for extracting the rough and firstly showed them better technique for extracting whole crystals, firstly with other rocks if that is all that is at hand then progressively with a hammer and a rock then hammer and chisel. After doing so much better results were achieved.
From this point we would provide a small amount of capital in order to get things running and get the community interested in mining. Thus giving us the opportunity to buy from them in the future and providing communities with the knowledge and means to create a new source of income. In this way, Lawson Gems has helped set up multiple small mining enterprises and hopes to continue to bring better lives to those often overlooked and taken advantage of.