- Ownership of the mineral rights of the country is vested in the Government of Sri Lanka and National Gem and Jewellery Authority has been designated as the sole Authority responsible for the issue of licenses to carry on the gem industry whether it is carried on in or over any state or private land.
- The National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) established by Act.No.50 of 1993, is mandated with the development, regulation and promotion of the gem Industry and the jewellery industry in Sri Lanka.
- While the top soil was removed from a land in Seenukkuwa belonging to Forest Conservation Department in the Thammannawa village near Kataragama for the Kataragama Lunugamwehera road development project under the “Maga Naguma Programme”; a gem deposit was discovered and thousands of people rushed into the area to remove the gem bearing soil, which necessitated the intervention of officials from National Gem and Jewellery Authority, Forest Conservation Department, assisted by the Police, inorder to minimize the environmental damages and disruptions caused to day to day life of general public. A course of action to be carried out was finalized by the above teams of officials under the guidance of Hon.Anura Priyadarshena Yapa, Minister of Environment and the Secretary to the Ministry.
- Subsequently the above land was surveyed and demarcated in to 49 blocks with an extent of 10 – 15 perches per block and the above blocks were auctioned on Friday the 24th February 2012 at 10.00 a.m. at the Pradeesheeya Sabah Auditorium – Kataragama. The “NGJA” was successful in earning a record income of Rs.271 Million from the above auction and block No.13 fetched the highest amount of Rs.22.0 Mn. followed by block No.s 6 & 7 which fetched Rs.20.00 Mn. each.32 Blocks recorded an income of Rs.1 to 5 Mn. and 10 blocks earned a revenue of Rs.5 to 10 Mn, while 07 blocks earned an income over Rs.10.00 Mn. It is pertinent to note that, the lowest bid recorded was Rs.1.00 Mn. which was an ample testimony to the great confidence the leading members of the gem mining community had placed in this treasure trove of a land.
- The majority of gems found in this land which was auctioned, belong to corundum family and consist of well defined crystals of blue sapphire, having a deep blue body colour. It was the opinion of the Gemmologists of National Gem and Jewellery Authority that most of the above blue sapphires could be cut and polished without subjecting them for heat treatment. Further, the above gem deposit is believed to be a primary deposit in pegmatite rock. “NGJA” intends to carry out a scientific research on the neighboring land and obtain data on the availability of gem deposits therein.
- The NGJA, with the firm belief that, the benefits of this treasure which mother nature has bestowed up on the people of this area, should be divided among them in an equitable manner, has decided to allocate 03 blocks of land to 03 groups of people from the same area, certified by the Divisional Secretary. These three groups are expected to carry out the gemming under the supervision of the “NGJA” as a mining project. Gems found through these projects shall be sold by tender and the proceeds after deducting all the expenses will be divided on 30/70 basis between “NGJA” and the members of the group respectively.
It is pertinent to note that the demand for Blue Sapphires from Sri Lanka in the global market is on the increase. We hope that the gems found in the Thammanna area would be a boost to our Blue Sapphire exports with the resultant benefit to the National Economy.