Colombia: Digital Fingerprints To Combat Illegal Emerald Mining
The Colombian ministry of mines and energy, in association with the Colombian Geological Service and the National University, has budgeted $30 million for a fiveyear “Mineral Digital Fingerprint” project that started in 2018. This project is based on a technique developed in Australia and applied in South Africa as a control mechanism for the commercialisation of gold and precious stones.
The goal of the Fingerprint (La Huella) project is to provide an understanding of the particular conditions and physical-chemical characteristics that were present at the time of the geological formation of a mineral, which then gives a specific geo-chemical DNA. This Fingerprint can also be traced at the different stages of exploitation, refinement and commercialisation of the minerals.
The “Mineral Fingerprints” will be identified in the deposits where the minerals are formed as well as in the transformation processes such as smelting, refining, cutting, and polishing. In the case of transformed minerals, this technique can be used to determine whether they came from a deposit or if they were recycled. The infrastructure of the project will include accreditation by a certified laboratory, the construction of a data bank of Mineral Fingerprints, and the generation of a certificate validating the origin of the minerals.
“Thanks to Mineral Fingerprints, it will be possible to strengthen the audit process for control in the mining production chain, increase technological capacity in the generation of tools for the identification of the lawful and indisputable origin of minerals, and expand the knowledge and geological cartography of the subsoil,” explained Dr. Arce Zapata, outgoing minister of mines. “It will take Colombian mining to another level.”