An emerald miner employed by the US owned Minería Texas Colombia walks down a mining shaft in Muzo. MTC is the first foreign investor involved in the trade in Colombia. The search for emeralds comes at a cost. The history is bloodstained. Thousands of people in the 80s were killed during the Green Wars and today there is a sense of ownership to the land and its riches which foreigners are now profiting from.
Many say the world’s most valuable emeralds come from the mountains of Boyacá, Colombia. Hundreds of people flock to Muzo each year in search of gems, only to discover poverty, hunger and violence.
Foreign investor Minería Texas Colombia was awarded the concession to exploit the main emerald mine in the region of Muzo which has limited access for the informal miners, left to dig through MTC's castoff soil. The company invested millions in the production, allowing them to filter out more emeralds, but leave fewer scraps.
Most of the residents in the municipality of Muzo work in mining. In May the Minería Texas Colombia plant was invaded, workers were beaten and riot police sprayed tear gas leaving one dead. Locals don't see an end to the conflict.
Charles C. Burgess, Director of Minería Texas Colombia S.A., arrives to the emerald mine. "How could people be happy?" A local in Muzo said. "They're putting tons of emeralds on a helicopter and flying it all away."