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Home / Tough times for small-scale miners… semi-precious stones selling below market value

Tough times for small-scale miners… semi-precious stones selling below market value

2020-01-10  Eveline de Klerk

Tough times for small-scale miners… semi-precious stones selling below market value

USAKOS - Small miners of Uiba-Oas Small-Scale Miners’ Cooperative situated between Usakos and Arandis say they are struggling to make ends meet as the selling of precious stones is proving to be challenging. 
Apart from a shortage of equipment, the group complained that they are finding it difficult to sell their semi-precious stones at market value, often resulting in major losses. 

This has seen some of them making less than N$1 000 a month. The semi-precious stones sold by the 43 sellers include amethyst, topaz, crystals, tourmalines and rose quartz that are made into expensive jewellery. 
One of the sellers Hildegard Dausas told New Era they are sometimes forced to sell their stones lower than the market value out of desperation. 

“Buyers negotiate for way less than what the stones are worth and sometimes we do not have a choice but to sell on their prices as it might be the only client that you would get for the day,” Dausas explained.
She also pointed out they hardly sold any stones this past festive season. “I made about N$300 and that we had to use to buy food and water. However, in a good month I will make about N$4 000 but that rarely happens, she said. 

Another seller Matilda !Hones echoed the same sentiments, adding their pricing are also influenced by the fact that they have to buy the stones from other miners. 

“Most of us selling here are women and cannot mine ourselves.  Hence, we have to buy from those that are mining. Obviously mining is a risky business and we cannot expect to buy it cheaply.  

As we are speaking now, I don’t know how our kids will be able to go back to school or get stationery as the season was very poor,” she said. She added that whatever they made during the festive season was used just to get by. “Hopefully business will pick up as from next week or at least that is what we are anticipating so that we can send our children to school with supplies,” she said. Silvia Pienaar, who also sells semi-precious stones with her family, says it will be good for business if their stones are marketed on a large scale to attract more buyers. 

“These stones are used in jewellery that are expensive indeed, like for instance rings and earrings. We want to sell them [the stones] outside the country. We know there is a market out there for them.  Sometimes we get buyers that will buy a whole table of stones and that is the kind of business people we want to attract to our stalls,” she said.

2020-01-10  Eveline de Klerk

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