In Zimbabwe, Women Dig for Aquamarine

In Zimbabwe, Women Dig for Aquamarine
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In Zimbabwe, Women Dig for Aquamarine

In Zimbabwe, Women Dig for Aquamarine

To mine aquamarine, the lads stated, employees first take away the vegetation and topsoil (placing them apart to allow them to get replaced later) after which dig all the way down to rock, a mix of feldspar, quartz and mica referred to as pegmatite. Aquamarine normally is embedded in pegmatite, so the ladies drill a few ft into the rock after which use gel explosives to blast it aside. They use hammers — which weigh about 16 kilos — and chisels, jackhammers and hand-held rock breakers to free the gem stones.

Rumbidzai Gwinji, Zimbaqua’s mine coordinator, stated that the miners nonetheless get excited once they discover one thing. “They dance, they sing,” she stated, “they don’t seem to be afraid to indicate their feelings.”

Relying on the colour, aquamarines can promote for wherever from just a few hundred to some thousand U.S. {dollars} a carat. Mr. Rosenkrantz declined to say how a lot aquamarine the mine has produced, however stated that, in April, it yielded a bit of greater than two kilos of gems that might be utilized in wonderful jewellery and greater than 100 kilos of low-grade stones. The stones are shipped to Bangkok for slicing and sharpening, however the companions hope to coach some girls within the coming 12 months to do the work on-site.

Earlier than the mine even opened, the companions pledged that 10 p.c of Zimbaqua’s earnings could be earmarked for neighborhood tasks chosen by the ladies. This 12 months a nonprofit group, Zimbaqua Imaginative and prescient, is being established so the cash can be utilized for a neighborhood heart that may home a major college, a pediatric clinic and a middle for craft coaching.

Snohetta, an architectural agency based mostly in New York and Oslo, is donating its work to design the house in partnership with a neighborhood architect. Development is scheduled to start later this 12 months, with hopes that the opening might be in early 2022.

“Empowering girls in a mining operation is one thing that might barely be on the radar within the West,” stated Craig Dykers, a founding associate of Snohetta. “That’s one motive why I discover it highly effective; it broadens our spectrum of understanding. It’s just like the thorn within the lion’s foot, it’s the smallest issues which have the largest influence.”  



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