Fatal Accident at Tanzanite Mine

June 21, 2002

Fatal Accident at Tanzanite Mine

More than 30 miners are feared dead after an air compressor supplying oxygen to an independent tanzanite mine failed on June 20. The mine is at Block B in Merelani, Tanzania. Two bodies had been recovered so far, and expectations were lower that any survivors would be rescued.

The area has been beset by mining problems in recent years. In 1988, a mine collapse in the region killed some 300 miners. Heavy rains associated with the El Nino weather pattern were blamed for that catastrophe.

In other tanzanite news, Professional Jeweler spoke with Michael O'Keefe, an officer at the U.S. State Department's Bureau of East African Affairs officer, regarding reports of a financial link between tanzanite and al Qaeda. "I saw the June 18 story in the Washington Post, but we stand by our previous statement there is no evidence of any systematic use of tanzanite [by Al Qaeda]," he says. "Had there been any systematic use of the gem, we would have known about it by now."

by Robert Weldon, G.G.

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