The Muzo region receives its name from the people of the Muzo Indians of the Caribbean ethnic group, who settled in Muisca territory, fighting bloody battles to colonise it, and then to avoid being colonised by the Spanish, who since the discovery of America, tried to take over this beautiful region, which finally happened in the year 1,551, when they were finally defeated by the conqueror Luis Lancheros.
With a total extension of 136 km², a little less than 10,000 inhabitants and a temperate climate that averages 26 °C, the wonderful territory of Muzo, which according to its inhabitants, was blessed by the God “Aré”, owns the emerald mines largest and most productive worldwide. The exploitation of these mines represents 75% of all the economic activity in the region and the income of its inhabitants.
The Muzo mines, exploited since before European colonisation, are located in the western emerald belt in the Department of Boyacá, between the towns of “Quipama” and “Muzo”, and it is estimated that their deposits have a period of formation of between 3 and 3.2 million years, hence the quality and colour of the emeralds from these mines.
To speak of the largest mine in the world, we must first speak about “San Pablo de Borbur”, a Colombian municipality located in the Western Province in the Department of Boyacá. Also known as the “Emerald Municipality of Colombia”, San Pablo de Borbur has a history similar to that of Muzo, since its first settlers were also Muzo Indians and later, Spanish colonisers, called “Looters or Saqueadores in spanish”, who were in charge of extracting the more emeralds from this magical land.
This municipality and therefore its masterful mine called “Coscuez”, are located about 65 km from the city of Chiquinquirá, capital of the province, bordered on the north by Otanche and Pauna, on the south by Muzo, on the east by Maripí and Pauna and to the west with Otanche again.
The lands where the Coscuez mine is located, do not have the mythological uniqueness of other lands such as Muzo, but thanks to its proximity, to the northeast you can see the hill “Fura”, which according to Muisca mythology, was in principle the first woman in the earth created by God “Aré”, and just in front, you can see the hill “Tena”, the first man. Fura, in violating the divine mandate of fidelity, and Tena after killing himself, were converted into these hills.
In the native language of the Chibcha culture, the word Chivor means “Green and Rich Earth”, hinting at the ecosystem and definitely at its emeralds, which are the highest standard of its wealth. Although the Chivor region is essentially agricultural, the mining sector ranks second in importance to the local economy
Chivor is a municipality located on the Eastern Mountain Range, in the extreme south-east of the Eastern Province, in the Department of Boyacá, Colombia, just 90 km from the country’s capital, and although it only has a little more than 2,100 inhabitants, its emerald deposits become protagonists of great interest to the mining sector. It has several mines of which we can highlight 4 that are the most important. Of course “Chivor”, which bears the same name as the municipality, “Gualí”, “Buenavista” and “Mundo Nuevo”.
Like all emerald territories, Chivor had to go through various processes of colonisation, first by native Caribs, Chibchas and Muiscas Indians, and then by Spanish conquerors, who in 1537 took over the region to make use of its wealth.
Later, in 1896, the Chivor region was “rediscovered” by a Colombian mining engineer, thanks to a description of the locality, found in an ancient manuscript dating from the 16th century.
Inhabited until the year 1700 by the indigenous people of the Chíos, the region of Gachalá, which in Muisca language has several meanings such as “Clay Jar of the Night”, “Defeat of the Night” or “Place of the Gachas”, belongs to the Department of Cundinamarca, that is to say, that it is perhaps the only one of the emerald lands of great relevance, which is not found in Boyacá.
Unlike Muzo, Coscuez and Chivor, the Gachalá region was not considered as fertile land and optimal for agriculture, which meant that this territory did not have to be the scene of bloody battles, which were common among population and settlers of that time. The apathy for these lands caused important neglect regarding their mining potential and therefore, the extraction of emeralds was inactive, even after the Spanish colonisation.
It was only a century after the abandonment of its inhabitants, the Chíos, that Father Mariano de Mendoza y Bueno asked the Viceroy Antonio José Amar y Borbón to donate these lands for the purpose of founding a population.