This page “World Mining Report 2005 – The Middle East” includes estimates from both official and unofficial sources of active mining deposits in the Middle East.
Related Article: World Mining Report 2005 – List of Countries
The Middle East
Afghanistan’s gem mining industry faces numerous challenges, like political turmoil and the remote, mountainous locations of most of its gem deposits.
Gemstone rough found in Afghanistan usually makes its way on the market via Pakistan, but the transportation of the material continues to be difficult since the war. One dealer reports that the Afghan government has attempted to stop all mining throughout the country, which has led to job loss for approximately 4,000 miners. Mining still does occur, and trade has even increased in Kabul in recent years.
Afghanistan is known for its tourmaline, in a variety of colors like blue, blue-green, and pink, as well as kunzite in pink and bluish-green. Both gemstones are readily available and found in Kunar and Lagman, near Kabul.
Emerald is also mined in the Panjsher area, lapis lazuli in the Badakhshan region, and rubies at the Jegdalek mines. Both ruby and emerald mining has improved over the past few years since it is mostly done by the Northern Alliance, the opposition group who, along with U.S.-led coalition troops, defeated the Taliban.
Pakistan has the potential to become a major player in the world of colored gemstones, since much of the country’s mining prospects are still relatively untapped. Pakistani peridot, including material mined in the Suppatt district, still has a strong presence on the market, although the mines are close to depletion. Some feel the peridot found here rivals that of Arizona because much of it is high quality, large, clean, and without olive overtones.
The main emerald deposits are found in Shamozai, Mingora, and Gujjar Killi, located in Swat Valley. Most of the emerald is of good quality; some dealers compare the best stones to the emerald found in Colombia. The emerald deposits have the potential to produce millions of carats, but much of the land is not currently being mined.
Pakistan has a variety of other gemstones such as ruby, tourmaline, topaz, aquamarine, spinel, lapis lazuli, and beryl.
The gemstone wealth of Tajikistan is relatively untapped, yet it is known to have a significant amount of high-quality ruby and flawless spinel. Many of these gemstones are finding their way to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they are sold locally; dealers will find that prices are lower in Tajikistan because of a lack of knowledge of the industry.