By Brecken Branstrator
New York—The government of Colombia is set to introduce a project establishing digital “fingerprints” for mineral origin determination.

The Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy, along with the Colombian Geological Service and the National University, has set a $30 million budget for a five-year “Mineral Digital Fingerprint” project, which started this year.

It will be officially unveiled at the second World Emerald Symposium, slated for Oct. 12 to 14 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Bogotá, Colombia.

The goal of the Fingerprint project is to provide an understanding of the specific conditions and physical-chemical characteristics present at the time of geological formation of a mineral, giving it a certain geo-chemical DNA, or “fingerprint.”

The “fingerprints” will be identified in the deposits where the minerals are formed and will help track each mineral at different stages, from mining to refinement to commercialization, to help determine if they came from a deposit or were recycled.

Development of the project will include accreditation by a certified laboratory, the construction of a data bank of mineral fingerprints and the creation of a certificate validating the mineral origins.

According to a press release about the project, it is based on a technique developed in Australia and applied in South Africa as a way to control the commercialization of gold and precious gemstones.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy did not clarify which gemstones the technique would be applied to by press time.

“Thanks to Mineral Fingerprints, it will be possible to strengthen the audit process for control in the mining production chain, increase technological capacity in the generation of tools for the identification of the lawful and indisputable origin of minerals, and expand the knowledge and geological cartography of the subsoil,” said the country’s outgoing Minister of Mines, Arce Zapata, in the press release. “It will take Colombian mining to another level.”

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