COLOMBIA - Energy & Mining
CEO, MTC & the Muzo Companies Colombia
Charles Burgess is the CEO of MTC and The Muzo Companies in Colombia. He graduated from the University of Florida in history and political sciences and also holds a master’s degree of arts in public administration. After three years of military service as an officer with the US Marine Corps, he started working for the US Department of State as a diplomat. He worked with the US Foreign Service for over 30 years in Paraguay, Ecuador, Cuba, and Colombia, where he worked for two terms. In 2009, he retired from the diplomatic service and founded MTC.
TBY talks to Charles Burgess, CEO of MTC & the Muzo Companies Colombia.
What is the significance for Colombia of having a company like Muzo at the forefront of its mining industry?
It is really simple. The world has changed. Many people will have seen the movie Blood Diamond, or at least be familiar with it. There was a situation in Africa where some undesirable and violent people were involved in black market diamond activities. People woke up to that, especially the people who buy luxury products such as these. They decided not to buy gemstones where people were being killed by organized crime, or suffering from bad mining practices. They want to make sure that if they spend thousands of dollars on gemstones that they are produced in an ethical manner, and not in a conflict zone. We took advantage of this and can certify that every one of our emeralds is ethically produced in our mine in accordance with local laws and regulations. We are able to document this, and if you buy an emerald from us, you get the full story of that emerald, literally from the time it leaves the mine to when it’s sold to the owner.
What social initiatives do you realize in your operations and the communities you operate in?
There are a number of things. One of our favorite projects is the canteen for old people. In the vicinity of the mine, there are quite a few of older indigent people who have no means of support. Many of these people came to the mining zone 30 to 40 years ago hoping to get rich. They never did. And in that process, they lost contact with their families and are alone with no means of sustenance. It was obvious that we had to do something, and so we built a dining facility for them, and they have contributed by growing their own food and raising chickens. It is an interesting project. Meanwhile, we also work with local school children and through Fortuna Cacao with local cacao farmers.
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