b'PHYSICALWHY DEISMALLGETTING RETAILSMATTERS MINERSPOLITICALFUTURE STRUGGLE IN PUBLIC they balance mining with, say, farmingKamlongera talked to colored stone or selling wares.stakeholders in his native Malawi. Dery adds: I think Ive learnedThrough his research, he learned this over and over again the past fivein the few instances in which buyers months: they work to live. Whateversurface, they are highly exploitative, puts food on the table, thats whatpaying as little as 30 percent of the regu-theyre going to go with. lar, pre-coronavirus price. She says the return of miners will depend on what other work they were able to find; if its more profitable thanI think the supply mining, then they wont be coming back. chain is struggling on But its not only the current group ofall levels right now but miners Derys worried aboutits theI think in the long term, next generation as well.were being pushed and Here, I think there will be fewerguided into being more people who will follow in their parents footsteps with mining. This is a wholeresponsible and being period of time that will be imprinted inmore transparent.their brain and make them think, never Brian Cook,mind, mining is not profitable for myAbove: A piece of rutilated quartz withNatures Geometryfamily. hematite from Brian Cooks mine in Brazil. At right: A bracelet by brand Fifi Bijoux featuring a rutilated quartz supplied by 70 PERCENT OFF Cooks company, Natures Geometry.Prices of colored stones rise and fall as supply and demand fluctuate, but the pandemic put added pres-sure on certain tiers.The supply of high-quality goods remains low but demand is there. As such prices are reaching new heights, says Clement Sabbagh, a gemstone wholesaler and current president of the International Colored Gemstone Association. Sheahan Stephen, a sapphire dealer sourcing from Sri Lanka who works closely with miners there, notes the same and says he expects pricing for very fine material to continue its steady rise. Hes also seen prices increase for mid-tier goods because movement of new material from some countries, such as those in East Africa, is restricted. Because theres been a lack of flow from the mine, rough material is not hitting the market so its basically only mate-rial thats been available for the last four months thats sitting around, Stephen says.caption The price of that product, second-grade goods, is substantiallyTKelevated over what it used to be. All the colored gemstone miners Delve researchers talked toa But he expects prices there to level off as colored gemstones, andtotal of several dozen in four source countriesreported similar people, begin to move again.declines.Meanwhile, there are reports of artisanal miners, many of whomSome worry how long prices for lower-tier goods could take to go are already dealing in lower-priced goods, having to accept rock-bot- back up.tom prices for their rough in their desperation to generate even aI think it could be a long time, Villegas says. Probably at least trickle of cash flow.six months, to be honest.Gichuhi says with so much supply and so few places to sell it, deal- In the meantime, Pact is working to develop remote buying in ers will start shortchanging miners.Tanzania, entrusting a local broker to purchase from miners on be-This is something Paul Kamlongera has heard too.half of international buyers. Kamlongera is a researcher for the Delve database project, a globalFor others, a solution, or potential solution, is digital selling.online data platform focusing on the ASM sector.Though it has taken off for diamonds and finished jewelry at many Delve researchers have been collecting data through phone-basedpoints in the supply chain, the market for rough colored gemstones is interviews with mining-site-level stakeholders to understand how thedifferent.pandemic is impacting them.Theres risk in buying a colored gemstone without seeing the 56 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2020'