Updated September 23 2021: A concern which affects the Ethiopian precious opal industry at present is the TPLF insurrection that has spread south from the Tigrayan region in the north of Ethiopia to central Ethiopia and into north Welo Province where productive opal mines are located. There have been little or no opal production at these mines since August 2021 due to hostilities. The newer mining area Koshelew is near the old Stayish Mine in north Welo Province, which produced very black opal that unfortunately proved to have stability issues. The new Koshelew mines are producing healthy stunning green and turquoise based colored opals and dark grey crystal opal along with opal similar to the classic Welo opal mines near Wegal Tena and Delanta. I’ve had reports from my opal customers that opals mined at Koshelew are exceptionally stable during and after cutting. There are new mining areas near the played out Wegal Tena/Delanta mines: Beska, Koki Weha and Tana which are producing classic multi-color crystal Welo opal.
Oh yes…In July 2021 meetings were held between Ethiopian opal miners/exporters and ECX (Ethiopia Commodity Exchange) along with the Ministry of Mines. I have heard the goal was improve the international value of Welo opal by increasing international sales of cut opal by controlling rough opal sales. This would also help support a domestic gem cutting industry. There was a temporary strategy that was tried in 2017 called 50/50 that required 50% of every rough export shipment to be accompanied by 50% of finished opal goods. I believe the meetings have been suspended until the TPLF insurrection has been resolved.