to decide on estate gem mining
The controversy over intentions by regional plantations companies
to start gem mining on estates is likely to be settled by President
Chandrika Kumaratunga under whom comes the National Gem and Jewellery
Authority (NGJA) which issues licences for gem mining.
opposition to efforts by RPCs to do gem mining on estates is believed
to stem from illicit gem miners and traders worried their business
could get affected.
of Parliament, mainly from the Ratnapura district, recently spoke
out in Parliament against moves to allow plantation firms to do
gemming. Several RPCs with gem deposits on their land have been
trying for years to see whether they could mine for gems as it appeared
to be a grey area in the privatisation agreements.
include those known to have gem-bearing lands, especially estates
in the Ratnapura-Balangoda area, such as Kahawatte Plantations,
Balangoda Plantations, Hapugastenne Plantations and Bogowantalawa
illicit miners are known to do gemming at night on some of these
estates or have encroached on lands owned by RPCs, usually with
MPs are suspected to be involved in illicit gem mining," an
industry official said. "There's a lot of illicit gemming going
on on estate lands. Miners dig at night, take the gem bearing gravel
in gunny bags and wash it elsewhere. That's why RPCs asked the government
to give licences to do gemming."