Ethiopia is to ban the export of rough opal as part of an effort to encourage exporters to add value to gemstone and earn increased revenues according to sources at the Ministry of Mines. The ban on opal exports will be the second similar action following the ban of unprocessed tantalum just five months ago.
Almost 80% of the rough opal, used in the production of jewelry and ornaments, is primarily exported to India.There are currently 17 associations made up of than 2 thousand miners are currently engaged in the mining of opal in the Amhara Regional States. The artisan miners in these associations sell the gems to an estimated 200 exporters licensed by the ministry. Opal has primarily been exported in its rough form so far with just 5.83 kilograms having being exported after being polished according to Tekle Yilma, President of the Ethiopian Gemstone Association. The polish stones fetched more than 184 thousand US dollars compared to 4.4 million US dollars raised from the rough opal he noted.
The MoM has notified exporters to procure opal polishing equipment worth 800 to 3500 US dollars to engage in value addition he noted. Currently just six of the 52 members of the association have cutting and polishing machines according to Tekle.
It is to be remembered that Ethiopia has exported more than ten thousand kilograms of gemstones generating 4.6 million US dollars so far this current financial year. This revenue is equivalent to the revenue earned from gold over the same period.