Fura has set up an all-female wash plant at its Coscuez emerald project in Boyacá, Colombia, which it believes is a first for both the mining and gemstone industry.
The decision to give the plant an all-female workforce came after the miner found local women wanting to take a more active role in emerald excavation.
The female population of Boyacá has long been involved in emerald mining as barequeras, who wash the tailings in search for emeralds. But this new plant, which will employ a minimum of 30 women, and will offer them a wider variety of roles than traditionally seen in the mining sector, including security, electrical repair, and picking and loading.
The new plant will be operational by the first quarter of 2019 and will process up to 240,000 tons of emerald a year.
Local women have “been continuously demonstrating their skills and competence at Coscuez, and in doing so, they are promoting a cultural transformation that challenges the previous perception of their role in mining,” said Dev Shetty, Fura Gems’ founder and CEO, in a statement.
“We believe women in West Boyacá are a pillar of society in the area and that these opportunities help reflect the vital, strong, and active role women continue to play within their local communities,” Shetty continued. “It is exciting to hear them talking about their jobs at the Coscuez Emerald Mine with so much pride and dedication.”
The Coscuez mine has produced emeralds for 400 years, including some of the finest gems in the world, but lately it has been engaged in mostly small-scale mining. After purchasing a 76 percent interest in in 2017, Fura plans to modernize it and ramp up production.
Founded by Shetty, the former chief operating officer of Gemfields, Fura is also exploring for and mining rubies and emeralds in Mozambique and Colombia.
Top: Women at the Coscuez mine (courtesy of Fura Gems)