Covid-19 stopped all emerald production

Due to the health crisis, this sector registers losses between US $26 and US $30 million.

Emerald production is the country’s extractive sector that is bearing the brunt of the current health emergency due to the covid-19 pandemic.

In just over two months that the mandatory preventive isolation has been carried out in the territory, the volume in the extraction of gems has fallen by more than 95% (practically to zero), which has led this mining
front to be in care intensive.

The reduction of the extraction of gems adds that these precious stones could not be exported either, paradoxically in a world market that increased despite the pandemic.

“The National Government, by closing the country’s airspace to international commercial flights, closed the only distribution channel for Colombian gems for sales abroad, since this is the only legal way to export (in hand) The emeralds”, said Óscar Baquero, president of the National Federation of Emeralds (Fedesmeraldas).

The union leader specified that mining companies that are dedicated to the production of emeralds such as Santa Rosa, MTC and Cosquez, at the beginning of the pandemic not only reduced the operation, but also began to carry out maintenance tasks and implemented security protocols , but despite the mining activity being among the
Executive’s list of exceptions, the operation stopped in its entirety.

For her part, Carolina Rojas, Deputy Minister of Mines added that the demand for luxury goods has decreased in the world given the situation of covid-19 and that includes Colombian emeralds.

“Consequently, producers have reduced their production because, although mining is a sector prioritized by the National Government, it has been necessary to adapt their operations to comply with the biosafety protocols regulated by the Ministry of Health,” said the official.

The Colombian emerald business is still growing, representing more than US $150 million a year, compared to other extractive industries that move around US $2 billion annually. However, this amount is very representative in the international market because the national gem is the highest value and the most desired in the world.

Not only the trade in the international scene for Colombian gems was temporarily closed, something
similar also happened locally.

“Social distancing was also another of the causes that ultimately brought the emerald operation to a halt, since authorized houses to buy and sell, such as those in the center of Bogotá, closed their doors due to the quarantine issue,” he stressed Baquero.

And he added that “in the months of April and May” in addition to reaching zero extraction, the gems that were previously foreign could not be marketed either.

According to calculations by Fedesmeraldas, before the pandemic between US $12 and US $13 million per month of Colombian gems were sold in international markets. Since the entry of isolation on March 20, and to date, the sector has recorded accumulated losses between US $26 and US $30 million.

Likewise, the president of Fedesmeraldas explained that the country exports around two million carats per year (that is, more than 166,000 carats per month), but that in the months of February, March and April, Colombia stopped producing and at the same time marketing to International level 500,000 carats, this without counting the month of May, which would lead to almost 700,000 carats without extracting and selling.