Why is the mining of Sugilite controversial in Zambia?

July 7, 2023 /Environment/ — Sugilite is a relatively rare cyclosilicate mineral with a complex chemical formula of KNa₂(Fe, Mn, Al)₂Li₃Si₁₂O₃₀. It is typically found in shades of pink to purple, but can also be colorless, pale pink, or reddish violet. Sugilite crystals are rarely found and the form is usually massive. It has a hexagonal crystal system and a Mohs hardness of 6 to 6.5.

Sugilite is named after the Japanese petrologist Ken-ichi Sugi (1901-1948). It was first discovered in 1944 in the Iwagi island in the Ehime Prefecture, Japan. Since then, it has also been found in other countries, including South Africa, Russia, and the United States.

Sugilite is a popular gemstone and is often used in jewelry. It is also said to have metaphysical properties, such as promoting spiritual growth, inner peace, and emotional healing.

Here are some additional facts about sugilite:

  • It is a relatively new mineral, having only been discovered in the 1940s.
  • It is a relatively rare mineral, and high-quality specimens can be quite expensive.
  • Sugilite is often used in jewelry, and it can also be used in meditation and healing practices.
  • Sugilite is said to promote spiritual growth, inner peace, and emotional healing.

Sugilite is not a controlled gemstone. This means that there are no regulations or restrictions on its mining, trade, or ownership. However, it is a relatively rare gemstone, and high-quality specimens can be quite expensive.

The value of sugilite on the international market varies depending on the quality of the specimen. Rough stones typically sell for around $10 to $20 per carat, while polished stones can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars per carat.

Here are some factors that can affect the value of sugilite:

  • Color: The most valuable sugilite is deep purple in color. Stones with lighter colors or other hues, such as pink or red, are less valuable.
  • Clarity: The clearer the stone, the more valuable it is. Stones with inclusions or other flaws are less valuable.
  • Size: Larger stones are more valuable than smaller stones.
  • Cut: Well-cut stones are more valuable than poorly cut stones.
  • Provenance: Stones with a known provenance, such as being mined from a specific mine, are more valuable than stones with unknown provenance.

If you are considering buying sugilite, it is important to do your research and purchase from a reputable dealer. You should also be aware of the factors that can affect the value of the stone so that you can get a fair price.

The mining of sugilite in Zambia is controversial because of the environmental and social impacts of the mining operations.

  • Environmental impact: Sugilite mining can have a significant impact on the environment. The mining process can pollute water supplies, damage vegetation, and contribute to soil erosion. In addition, the transportation of sugilite can also pollute the air.
  • Social impact: Sugilite mining can also have a negative impact on local communities. The mining operations can displace people from their homes, pollute their water supplies, and contribute to crime and violence. In addition, the mining companies often do not provide adequate compensation to the local communities for the damage that is caused.

As a result of these concerns, there have been protests and demonstrations against sugilite mining in Zambia. In 2016, the government of Zambia suspended all sugilite mining licenses pending an environmental assessment. However, the mining operations have since resumed.

The mining of sugilite is a complex issue with no easy answers. There are economic benefits to mining sugilite, but there are also significant environmental and social costs. It is important to weigh these factors carefully before making a decision about whether or not to mine sugilite.