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MORE than 500 emerald mines on the Copperbelt are not fully operational and barely survived the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, Emerald and Semi Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia (ESMAZ) has said.

ESMAZ president, Victor Kalesha, explained that contrary to speculation the last two years have been torrid for the sector with massive expenses poured in .

He said there are 560 mines in Lufwanyama and only three of them  were on full time production and opIt was malicious, he said, to claim that  mines were hiding production figures.  Everything that is produced is evaluated by the Geological Survey Evaluators before it goes  on the market.

There is nothing like sabotaging  the economy  everything is evaluated and checked.

It is quite expensive in terms of cost to produce even one kilogram. We don’t hide any production, he said.

Mr Kalesha was reacting to the Emerald Production Watch of Zambia (EPWZ) President Musa Kafimbwa who said the country was being robbed of millions in dollars in the emerald sector, through under declaration of production as well as shutting down viable mines due to court processes.

 Mr Kafimbwa said during the audit tour of the Lufwanyama emerald area, it was found that most mines in the area, including the big mines, were not declaring their actual production. 

He said most mines were declaring less than what they were  producing to create an impression that the emerald industry was not as profitable and lucrative as it was perceived.

Mr Kafimbwa said some of the emerald mines which have been dormant were productive mines, but have been closed due to court cases. 

Mr Kafimbwa said after taking an audit of the mines in the Lufwanyama emerald restricted area, it was found that the closed, but productive mines could have contributed to poverty alleviation through job creation if the Judiciary had expedited the court cases involving the affected mines.

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