GIA FE09 (GIA Laboratory Bangkok Field Expedition 09): Part 02: Sep. 02 - Sep. 20, 2009: Mozambique:

This is the second part of the GIA Field Expedition to East Africa, I'm leading for the GIA Laboratory Bangkok: I arrived in Nampula, Mozambique from Dar Es Salaam with gemologists Lou Pierre Bryl (Canada), Stephane Jacquat (Switzerland) and Jean Baptiste Senoble (France) on Sep. 20th 2009. We were welcome at the airport by Moussa Konate of "Mozambique Gems Ltd". Moussa Konate is one of the partners in the "paraiba like" tourmaline mining operation in Mavuco.

Our objectives were to visit the tourmaline deposit near Mavuco village (A deposit which was visited in the past by my colleague at GIA Brendan Laurs who helped me to prepare this expedition) and the different ruby deposits in Niassa and Cabo Delgado areas in Northern Mozambique in order to complete the work we already done at GIA Laboratory about rubies and tourmalines from Mozambique:

 

About Tourmaline from Mozambique, I would like then to invite to to read the article in Gems & Gemology (Spring 2008): Copper bearing (Paraiba type) tourmalines from Mozambique by B. Laurs et al.

 

About rubies from Mozambique, I invite you to read the following:

See Rubies from Northern Mozambique on www.giathai.net, it is a big pdf on which we communicate our results after studies rubies reportedly from Mozambique we studied at the GIA Laboratory Thailand beginning 2009.

and also GIA Insider: (Sept 18th 2009) From Gems & Gemology (Gem News International) : New rubies from Mozambique by S.F. McLure and J.I. Koivula, an interesting publication about the rubies reportedly from Montepuez, which were studied in the USA recently.

- "Pareciba Paraiba", meaning "Paraiba like", tourmalines from Mavuco, Mozambique: Visiting the Mozambique gems mining operation at Mavuco was easy as Moussa Konate and his Brazilian partner Keke Saint-Clair Fonceca were present. We visited the area twice, a first time with Mozambique gems geologist: Enrique Shirinza, a second time with Moussa Konate and Keke Saint-Clair Fonceca. We could witness the mining and washing process. An update about copper bearing tourmaline mining in Mozambique will be soon published by GIA with the information collected during our visit.

 

 

"Moussa Konate and a large purple tourmaline from Mavuco, Mozambique."
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009


On Sept 08th 2009 we moved to the Niassa province in order to try to visit the ruby deposit near M'sawize village.

It seems that this deposit was discovered one year ago, around Oct. 2008, when a gem rush succeeded the discovery by a local hunter of some good rubies which rapidly found their way to the Tanzanian gem market in Songea and Mpwapwa. The new rubies were then visible in gem cutting centers like Bangkok where I first saw some of these Niassa rubies (see the GIA Lab Bangkok study on the subject). After visiting the Lichinga mining office to get a "credencial" we tried on Sep. 09, 2009 to visit the ruby mining area near M'sawize village with a mining technician from the "Direccao Provincial dos Recursos Minerais e Energia do Niassa" and a local policeman from the Mavago district in which M'sawize is located. Nevertheless after about 8 hours traveling by car and then motorbikes from Lichinga we were stopped 3 kilometers from the mining site by a joint force of Niassa Reserve rangers and Mozambique border patrol police forces as a result of what seems to be a misunderstanding between the Lichinga mining department and the people from the Niassa Reserve where the ruby deposit is located. We spent then two days under arrest in the Niassa bush with the local rangers. These were tough days but we became rapidly friends with the rangers and the policemen who arrested us. We were then provided some interesting information about the difficulties they had with illegal mining in the Niassa Reserve. The fact is that the arrival of several thousands of miners and traders is not without consequences for the area. We were told by the rangers about poaching of wild animals and about some destruction of the local environment. In order to stop these illegal mining activities, the Niassa Rangers and the Mozambique police lead a police operation in Niassa in June 2009 and few days before our attempt to visit the mines they built a special camp and a well armed force in order to stop and arrest all people trying to visit the mining area. We were one of their first catch! It seems that after these police operations most miners moved to Montepuez where a new ruby deposit was found recently.

After 2 days in the Niassa reserve with the rangers we returned alive, healthy and free to Lichinga.

Back in Nampula, thanks to the information provided by the rangers, we were able to contact the Niassa reserve management and currently we are discussing for a possible new visit to the M'sawize ruby deposit in collaboration with them: Things looks very positive but well we will have to be a little bit patient.



"Under arrest in the Niassa bush"
Left to right: Stephane Jacquat, Jean Baptiste Senoble and Lou Pierre Bryl getting ready to sleep around our fire in the Niassa bush.
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009

 

On Sep. 16th 2009, we travelled to Pemba in order to try to visit the new ruby mining area near Montepuez. This time we were in contact with the owner of the game reserve on which the mining area is located. We were expecting then that everything would be fine in order to visit the new ruby mines. But visiting the office of the Pemba mining officer were told that he would not support our projects to visit the area as the situation was very tense at the mining area as the presidential campaign had just started and because ruby mining there is all except legal: Several thousand of illegal miners and gem traders are while I write these words "playing hide and seek" with the police forces. The mining officer asked us to be patient... and to wait after the elections to visit the Montepuez ruby mining area.

 

We decided to follow his advise and not to loose our time we visited several dealers and studied the stones they had. The result of our expedition will be soon published on GIA Laboratory Bangkok website as we will update the pdf about rubies from Mozambique already online in the Ongoing Research part of the website.

"A by-product of mining for lead glass filled rubies?"
An exceptional stone reportedly from Montepuez weighting more than 10 carats. The stone has no fissures and nearly no inclusions. It is really an exceptional piece as most of the production from Montepuez will need first to be treated (with lead glass or flux) before to be used in jewelry.
Photo: V. Pardieu / GIA Laboratory Bangkok, 2009


It seems that Mozambique with its already famous pegmatite field around Alto Ligonha, its tourmaline deposit near Mavuco, and now these new and promising ruby deposits is on the eve to be able to compete with Tanzania, Madagascar and Kenya as an East African gemological Eldorado.

But well, things are not easy as most of the rubies are mined illegally which is not without creating difficulties particularly when the deposits are located in natural reserves. Things will probably found a solution but in Mozambique we heard about one word: "Patiencia"...

Anyway we have now left Mozambique and I'm back in Tanzania to continue visiting the gem mining areas I started to visit in 2005, 2007 and 2008. Then the plans are to continue to Kenya and finally return in Mozambique to finally visit the Niassa and Montepuez ruby mining areas.

 

Patiencia...

 

All the best,