Zambia's Hidden Gems: A Closer Look at Emeralds and Gold Mining
Zambia's Hidden Gems: A Closer Look at Emeralds and Gold Mining

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Zambia’s Hidden Gems: A Closer Look at Emeralds and Gold Mining

Zambia, in southern Africa, has a colorful history of gold mining and emeralds, from the early 1800s to today. It’s well known that South Africa produces most of the world’s platinum group metals (gold, palladium, rhodium, iridium and osmium) and a large amount of the world’s gold supply. Less well known is that Zambia and Zimbabwe are also major players in the global mineral industry thanks to their production of platinum group metals, copper and gemstones such as emeralds.

What Are Precious Stones?

Precious stones are any gemstone that is rare and has specific characteristics. The most well-known precious stones include diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, tanzanite, tsavorite garnet, aquamarine and opal. Many of these stones get their value from their rarity or lack of availability. For example, in order to be classified as a precious stone, a gem must have an abundance of color (which is what gives them their beautiful appearance) but only be found in small quantities around a small area.

How do you mine for precious stones?

We’ve all heard stories of how people hunt for diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other precious stones. But what about more common minerals like iron ore or gold? Do we even have to ask how these are mined? Not really. But if you’re thinking about joining a gold or emerald mining operation in Zambia or anywhere else in Africa as a contractor or employee, you might be wondering what’s involved in finding these precious metals. The process has stayed true to tradition for years; with minor variations depending on where you choose to go gold mining. The steps below outline some of those basics steps that should give you an idea of what happens after you take your seat on a plane bound for Africa!

The History of Precious Stones in Africa

Zambia is one of few African countries that has natural sources of precious stones. Both emeralds and gold were discovered in Zambia during Colonial times. The gold mines were taken over by commercial firms, while in terms of emerald mining, small-scale operations are still being run by locals. Today, these treasures have become major exports for Zambia, attracting tourists from all over the world interested in seeing how they are extracted and giving miners a way to make money to live on. While many people think of Africa as a place where poverty is widespread, it’s important to remember that there are also opportunities for those who know where to look. There’s no doubt that Zambia’s natural resources can be an asset if managed properly, but it will take time before they reach their full potential.

Tourists can visit mines

Zambia is one of Africa’s richest gold mining countries. It also has huge deposits of emerald, copper, nickel, and cobalt. Tourists are allowed to visit many of these mines but they have to go with a guide. For example, miners in Lufwanyama mine emerald. Zambian emerald is famous for its green shades which sometimes look blue or green-blue depending on where it was mined. One of Zambia’s largest gold mines called Mponela is located in Kalumbila about two hours drive from Kitwe. Kalumbila has been producing gold since 1911 but now concentrates on placer deposits instead of hard rock as it used to be because most ore bodies were depleted centuries ago.


Zambia is not only known for its emerald deposits. The country also has major gold mines, especially in the north. South Africa has historically been Zambia’s largest gold producer, but it faces stiff competition from nearby Zimbabwe, where labor costs are even lower than in Zambia. The cheapest source of labor in southern Africa remains Zimbabwe, where a hundred dollars can get you one hundred workers. Miners digging for diamonds can earn as little as ten dollars a day in Angola or Botswana; but miners digging for gold are earning fifty to sixty cents a day—if they’re lucky—in Zambia.


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