Sri Lanka threatens legal action against foreign firms mining for gems

EconomyNext – Sri Lanka’s gem authority has decided to bar foreign gem firms and investors from mining on Sri Lankan soil, a senior official told a news conference at the end of an international gem congress.

“If the individuals or firms are found violating the rule, this would be considered a criminal offense and they could be tried in courts,” said K L D Dayasagara, deputy director general of the National Gem & Jewellery Authority (NGJA).

“If we feel they are violating the rule, we would promptly place one of our officers at the site to ensure they do not breach the rules.”

Mining licenses are issued by the National Gem & Jewellery Authority, he explained at the news conference held at the end of the International Colored Gem Stones Congress.

The event, which is attended by top international buyers, manufacturers, marketers and suppliers from all over the world, is organised by the International Colored Gemstone Association, a think-tank which serves the global colored gemstone industry.

“So-called exploration licences are not issued by the NGJA but by the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau. The GSMB only issues exploration licenses for minerals other than gen stones. Not a single gem can be extracted (under these minerals exploration licenses),” Dayasagara said.

Clement Sabbagh, chairman of the ICA, said the efforts to regulate Sri Lanka’s gem industry “can be seen as an exemple of its mining legislation being efficiently protective of the environment and small miners alike.”


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