Monday, June 27, 2016

The Valley of Rubies - Mogok Stone Tract, Myanmar

When it comes to ruby and sapphire, there is no place more famous than Myanmar’s Mogok Stone Tract.

The Mogok Stone Tract is situated in Myanmar’s Mandalay province, about 200 km northeast of Mandalay. Home to the world’s premier ruby mines, it is also one of the richest mineral concentrations on Earth. Aside from ruby, Mogok produces many gems, including sapphire, spinel, peridot, topaz and moonstone. One of Mogok’s gems, painite, is found nowhere else on the planet.

During certain periods in the Earth’s history, tectonic activity produced large-scale deformation of the surface. This stress resulted in fantastic zones of mineral formation, where mundane minerals mutated.

Mogok is a city in the Mandalay Region of Burma (Myanmar), located 200 km north of Mandalay.

Mogok and other villages nearby have been famous since ancient times for its gemstones, especially ruby and sapphire. 90% of the world's rubies come from Myanmar. The red stones from there are prized for their purity and hue. The "Valley of Rubies" is noted for its rare pigeon's blood rubies and blue sapphires.
References to rubies and Burma have been found dating to the sixth century, during the Shan Dynasty.
The ruby mines in Mogok were taken over from the Shan by the king of Burma in 1597.

In the 1870s, during the reign of King Mindon (1853-1878) the French and the English were building colonial empires in Asia. The British learned of the French interest in Mogok and Upper Burma, and feared that the French would take over the region and control access to China. Backed by a consortium of London-based gem merchants, they planned an invasion of Burma with one of its main objectives being control of Mogok and its ruby mines.
In 1886, the British succeeded in taking over Upper Burma. By 1889, they had formed Burma Ruby Mines Ltd. They introduced water cannons, washing plants, and other mechanized mining methods. The company promoted Burmese rubies in Europe and around the world.

Operational problems and falling prices due to the introduction of synthetic ruby caused the company to abandon the mines in 1931.
Burma became an independent nation in 1948. Following a coup in 1962, a military dictatorship took over until 2011.

Burma's ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world's longest-running unresolved civil wars. The military junta was dissolved following a 2010 general election, and a nominally civilian government was installed. Although the military retains influence through the constitution that was ratified in 2008, it has relinquished control of the government.
The geological environment includes impressive marble pinnacles (karsts) that are blackened from weathering. These formations are visible throughout the stone tract. One of the largest of these outcroppings is the one that the temple Kyauk Pyat sits upon.
The karsts result from the weathering of the marble. This weathering process also plays a part in mining at Mogok. Marble is an intricate component of ruby and spinel formation.

The host rock is weathered and transported along with the gems. The gems are then concentrated in gravels.
In March 2012, a draft foreign investment law emerged, the first in twenty five years. Foreigners will no longer require a local partner to start a business in the country, and will be able to legally lease, but not own property.

In 2012, the Asian Development Bank formally began to finance infrastructure and development projects in the country. The United States, Japan and the European Union countries have also begun to reduce economic sanctions to allow foreign direct investment.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mummy Found Inside Ancient Buddha Statue

During routine restoration, researchers discovered a surprise hidden in an ancient gold-painted Chinese Buddha statue: a mummy hidden inside.

The mummy was once the Buddhist monk Liuquan, according to text found with the statue.
The mummy was a respected Buddhist monk who, after death, was worshipped as an enlightened being, one who helped the living end their cycle of suffering and death.
Liuquan is known to have taught during the 11th century, which puts the age of the statue at close to 1,000 years.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Banro Corporation - BAA.t

Banro Corporation - BAA.t operates two gold mines in the DRC. Twangiza produced 135,500 ounces of gold in 2015.

Namoya is an open pit, oxide operation. Namoya entered commercial production in January 2016. Namoya has production targets of roughly 9,000 - 10,000 ounces per month at full run rate.

On May 11, 2016 the company released Numbers

"Banro Corporation (“Banro” or the “Company”) (NYSE MKT:BAA)(TSX:BAA) today announced its financial and operating results for the first quarter of 2016.
•$98.75 million financing closed in February 2016
•Banro’s Mineral Reserves as at December 31, 2015, have grown year-on-year by 9%, after depletion, to 3.18 Moz of gold (48.61Mt @ 2.03 g/t Au)
•Q1 2016 consolidated (combined Twangiza and Namoya) gold production of 44,192 ounces with a cash cost of $767 per ounce, combined mine site all-in sustaining cost of $855 per ounce, and consolidated all-in sustaining cost of $949 per ounce, in-line with expectations and 2016 production guidance
•Q1 2016 revenue of $47 million
•Commercial production declared at Namoya effective January 1, 2016
•Twangiza produced 26,638 ounces of gold in Q1 2016 with a cash cost of $639 per ounce
•Namoya produced 17,554 ounces of gold in Q1 2016 with a cash cost of $959 per ounce