An emerald miner employed by the US owned Minería Texas Colombia, MTC, walks down a mining shaft in Muzo, on July 24, 2015. MTC is the first foreign investor involved in the trade in Colombia. The search for emeralds comes at a cost. The history is bloodstained. Thoughts 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 believe the world's most valuable emeralds come from the mountains of Boyacá, Colombia. Hundreds of people flock to Muzo, department of Boyacá, each year in search of gems, only to discover poverty, hunger and violence.
Carlos Sanchez, front left, and Jose Vicente Ico, front right, dig through mined rubble just outside the Minería Texas Colombia plant with hopes of finding gems in Muzo, Colombia, on July 26, 2015. When MTC was awarded the concession to exploit the main emerald mine in the region it limited the access for informal miners to dig through the 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 MTC 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 Burgess, Director of Minería Texas Colombia, arrives to the mine in Muzo, Colombia on July 24, 2015. MTC purchased the mine from the legendary emerald czar Victor Carraza in 2013.
Julian Martinez stands by as a mining utility vehicle drives into place inside an emerald mind owned by Minería Texas Colombia in Muzo, Colombia, on July 24, 2015. Miners work on 8-hour shifts on a run of 20 days on followed by 10 days off.
Ore and waste rock are brought to the surface from the Puerto Arturo mine in Muzo, Colombia. The cost of the finest Colombian emeralds can reach USD $10,000 per carat, and even up to USD $50,000 per carat.
Muzo is seen nestled between mountains in department of Boyacá, Colombia, on July 25, 2015. Few countries are as rich in emeralds as Colombia, making it the world’s leading producer, with the majority of global production.
Tatiana Gonzales, 13, does the laundry at her home in Muzo, Colombia, on July 25, 2015. Gonzales' father, like most who live in Muzo, works in the emerald industry.
A crowd gathers around a cockfighting pit in Muzo, Colombia, on July 25, 2015.
Homes of miners are pictured just outside the Minería Texas Colombia plant in Muzo, Colombia on July 24, 2015.
Karen Dicelis serves soup at the community eatery, El Mirador de los Abuelos, during lunch in Muzo, Colombia, on July 24, 2015. El Mirador de los Abuelos is one of the social investments made by Minería Texas Colombia to provide one free meal a day to the elderly.
Just outside the Minería Texas Colombia plant, emerald miners play Tejo, a popular Colombian game where players throw a "tejo" or rock to a target on the opposing side in Muzo, Colombia, on July 24, 2015.
Independent emerald mine laborer, Efrain Sanchez, displays an uncut emerald he found sorting through the dirt and rubble tossed out by Minería Texas Colombia plant in Muzo, Colombia, on July 26, 2015. Apart from the rare chance that they strike big, informal emerald miners usually make between 100,000 to 200,000 pesos a month, about 35-70 dollars.
“Guaqueros,” independent mines laborers dig through a was just outside the Minería Texas Colombia pant in search of emeralds in the municipality of Muzo, department of Boyacá, in Colombia on July 24, 2015.
Cow meat is cooked during a party in the department of Boyacá, Colombia on July 26, 2015.
Informal emerald miner Jose Joaquin Vidal drinks "tinto," coffee, during a break just outside the Minería Texas Colombia plant, in Muzo, Colombia, on July 24, 2015. Vidal said that U.S. presence has formalized the emerald business, making it harder for him to mine emeralds.
Colombian National Police officer Francisco Gomez patrols the area near the Minería Texas Colombia plant in Muzo, Colombia on July 26, 2015. Forero started patrolling the area shortly after the mine was invaded in May 2015.
Lee Wasson, a specialist in Colombian Emeralds sorts through different gems in his office in Bogotá, Colombia. on July 13, 2015.
A security guard keeps watch on the property where Victor Carranza lived while he controlled much of Colombia's emerald business in the department of Boyacá, Colombia on July 24, 2015. In 2013, Minería Texas Colombia purchased the mine once owned by the late Victor Carranza. -- This project was originally commissioned for the Washington Post.