The Kagem emerald mine is the world’s single largest producer of emeralds and accounts for approximately 25% of global emerald production. It covers an area of approximately 41 square kilometres and is located in the central part of the Ndola Rural Emerald Restricted Area (“NRERA”), in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia.
Kagem Emerald MineGeology
Unlike most gemstones, the mineralisation of emeralds can only occur when two different rock types with contrasting characteristics meet each other under unique geological conditions, and that makes it one of the rarest gemstones in the globe.
For Zambian emeralds, it was the specific combination of the circa 1.6 billion year old high-grade metamorphic rock named the Talc Magnetite Schist (TMS) and the younger circa 500 million year old intruding pegmatite that came together to form these magnificent and incredibly rare gems.
The chemical interaction between the pegmatite and the TMS brought about a soft, thin black reaction zone where the emerald fluids collected and were allowed to crystallise, over many millions of years, into a unique hexagonal shape. The metamorphic TMS provided the trace element-chromium that has been absorbed into this rare gem and results in the rich and saturated green colour.Learn more about emeralds
Kagem is an open-pit emerald mine. The operation currently runs to as much as 130 metres in depth (imagine the height of an +40 storied office block), is 1.5KM in length and approximately 750 metres wide.
However, we aren’t just digging and leaving big craters, instead with a mining & back filling strategy, the open pit is slowly migrating across the landscape with the footwall constantly being in-filled. We are putting back the hard rock in the exhausted areas of ore mining within the pit, the top soil is utilized on top of the in-active waste dump to create an environment that is suitable for revegetation of the land.
Kagem has built a reputation in Zambia as a world-class emerald mine and boasts a safety record to match. Having invested early in modern mining techniques and equipment, the mines commitment to safety, health and wellbeing has always been a key priority.
The health, safety, environment and quality team’s approach is to engage staff at every opportunity – through signage, carrying out regular training and awareness sessions and more recently via the championing of safety compliance and reporting so that Heads of Department fully understand the importance of their roles as the company’s leaders. Kagem is currently well underway with the process of ensuring compliance with both OHSAS18001 and ISO14001 management systems.
Kagem has a well-established clinic and staff have access to emergency evacuation services should a serious incident occur. For staff wellbeing there are sports and gym facilities, various football tournaments and recreation areas.