b'PHYSICALWHY DEISMALLGETTING RETAILSMATTERS MINERSPOLITICALFUTURE STRUGGLE IN PUBLIC CANT MINE, CANT EATThe pandemic brought activity to a standstill for many artisanal and small-scale (ASM) colored gemstone miners, be it mining, selling their goods, or both.With travel restrictions in place, international buyers couldnt fly into source countries to purchase rough material. Cristina Villegas, director of the mines to markets program at Pact, a non-governmental international development organization, says shes heard time and again from miners in Tanzania: we eat what we mine. Whatever they have mined and can sell on any given day pays for their food. When they cant mine or sell, they dont eat.Rachel Dery, who works with her familys company, Roger Dery Gem Design, wit- Its just a simple nessed this first-hand earlier this year as she remained in Af- equation of, no buyers rica while COVID-19 spreadequals no moneyacross the globe.equals no food.Dery traveled to Tanzania in Rachel Dery, February, just two weeks afterRoger Dery the Tucson gem shows were over.Gem Design Unable to return home as the United States case count rose, she spent five months in East Africa as the coronavirus shut down countries. She says there were no buyers for any goods, and both small-scale miners who also farm part-time and the owners of mid-size mines who depend on mining as their primary source of income suffered. Its just a simple equation of, no buyers equals no money equals no food.COVID-19 took longer to reach and accelerate in Africa. Accord-ing to the United Nations, the continent didnt record its first caseGem Legacy raised money to feed students in East Africa at risk of malnutrition while school until mid-February, and it took 100 days to reach 100,000 cases. suspension during the pandemic left them without government-sponsored lunch.Because of this, it took a while for the pandemic to begin impact-ing gem markets there, Dery says.equipment), that makes it hard for them. For them, it adds cost to an For a while, brokers in bigger cities like Arusha were using theexercise where they make marginal profits from their activities.time to stock up on inventory. These issues led to a lack of cash flow, making miners who were But by late April/early May, they couldnt spend any more, espe- already vulnerable become even more so during the pandemic.cially with so few buyers, and everything came to a standstill. Due to the nature of artisanal mining, this trickled down to the Mine owners no longer had the money to feed their workers orcommunities. invest in operations that had become more complicated overnight.When theres an artisanal pit happening somewhere, the people Monica Gichuhi, director of the Africa Gemwho depend on and are supported by that activity is a multiplied Exhibition and Conference and aeffect, Gichuhi says.A 3.77-carat garnet veteran in the ASM sector, saysYoure not talking about one miner, one family. Youre talking from Anza Gems government restrictions onabout a community that depends on that ecosystem to survive. A mining during the pandemicmine will have people who dig, people who bring the water, people made it difficult for work- who do the sorting, the cleaning, the grading, the transportation.ers already operating onBrian Cook, who operates a rutilated quartz mine in Brazil and ultra-slim margins tosources stones around the country, says mining activity fell off there keep going.too because of the pandemic. When youreIn the Carnaba and Socot mining districts in Bahia, known for telling them toproducing some of the intense green emeralds Brazil is famous for, gov-keep their socialernment mandates forced mines across the entire area to shut down. distance, askingMost of those impacted were artisanal and small-scale miners. them to use PPEThe mine shutdowns were just one more issue on top of a pile of (personal protectiveother concerns for the colored gemstones mining sector.54 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2020'