KATHMANDU: There has been zero progress in creating facilities for the value addition of gemstones in Nepal even five years after the government banned the export of the precious and semi-precious stones.
In the past half-decade , the country neither transferred any new technology for mining or processing nor made any initiatives for the development of the sector.
The private sector industries also remained the same as they were then although their products decreased and they are supplying it to the domestic market in a small scale.
The government had put an embargo on gemstone export through a Cabinet decision on raw gemstone export in 2014 with an intention of discouraging the transfer of precious stones at a negligible price, said Director General of the Department of Mines and Geology (DMG) Dr. Somnath Sapkota.
One and a half dozen private sector companies have obtained license to mine raw-gemstones in various parts of the country – they include nine for Tourmaline, six for Kyanite and three quartz while some companies are working in aquamarine and ruby mining as well.gems
The DMG has also issued 14 licenses for the exploration of stones. “We are facing hard times to sustain in the industry due to the ban on exports of precious and semi-precious stones,” said Sushil Rawal, a Gemologist who runs Tony Hagen Gems Industry in Jajarkot.
According to him, processing of raw-materials produces only about 15 per cent of gems and the private entrepreneurs have no idea about the industrial use of the remaining materials. The country needs more gemologists and latest technology to increase value addition in the gemstone. Gemologists possess the knowledge to identify the gemstones and idea about cutting.
The DMG has urged the government to open the export of gemstones, open a processing centre in Surkhet, capital city of Karnali, and create at least 15 new gemologists.
However, Dr. Sapkota said that it would take some time to bring the situation back to normal.
“In the past, the country was exporting the raw materials in kilos and importing the finished gems in piece. We are working to increase the value of gemstones through proper processing and refining,” he said. A gem entrepreneur said that the ban on export has resulted in higher smuggling of raw-gemstones and finished gems.
Trade and Export Promotion Centre also said that though rough stone needed cutting, craving and polishing before it was embedded with ornaments and jewelleries, there was no organised provision for training for such works in Nepal. However, some mine owners and businessmen are doing the works in a small scale.
Nepal is touted as a rich country in precious and semi-precious stones with Jajarkot, Dhading, Rasuwa, Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha and Manag districts having major deposits.
It is estimated that the higher Himalaya belt has high quantity of gemstones like aquamarine, tourmaline, quartz, amethyst, hamber gite, topaz, sapphire, garnet and amazonite. Mid-hill districts like Dhading have ruby, sapphire, spinel quartz, rutile and amethyst.
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