Minerals in Afghanistan : gemstones of Afghanistan

McIntosh, Robert; Benham, Antony John. 2007 Minerals in Afghanistan : gemstones of Afghanistan. Afghanistan Geological Survey, 6pp. (Unpublished)

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Afghanistan and gemstones have been inextricably linked for 6500 years and the country remains rich in precious and semiprecious gemstone deposits (Figure 1). Lapis lazuli, mined in the Hindu Kush since the Neolithic Period, was transported along the ancient trade routes to Mesopotamia, Ur, Egypt and India. Precious gems including emeralds, ruby and sapphires (Figure 2) are mined in Afghanistan, and semi-precious lapis lazuli, tourmaline, aquamarine, kunzite, topaz, garnets, fluorite and varieties of quartz are also worked. Afghanistan is also a source of good quality mineral specimens sought by collectors. Gemstone mining in Afghanistan is typically an artisanal activity, carried out by people living in villages surrounding the mines. Tunnels are excavated and gems are extracted by hand using drills, dynamite and often high explosives recycled from ordnance. These techniques lead to much waste and damage to gems, and result in low yield. Most of the gemstones mined in Afghanistan leave the country illicitly, 90–95 % of them going to Peshawar in Pakistan where they are sorted for quality.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Programmes: BGS Programmes > Economic Minerals
Funders/Sponsors: NERC
Additional Keywords: Afghanistan, mineral, gemstone
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 06 Sep 2010 14:48 +0 (UTC)

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