Colombia's mines and energy ministry (Minminas) is strengthening measures to bring an end to illegal mining activities in some emerald areas.
"We have to do away with illegal activities. The truth is that the government has been very lax about dealing with it," Minminas mining director Beatriz Duque told BNamericas.
She said it will be necessary to take legal action in order to bring an end to the problem but a first step will be to classify the illegal activity.
"Because an illegal drag that costs several million pesos isn't the same thing as someone trying to make a living with a shovel and pick ax," she said.
The official said the ministry will pursue the issue this year to implement control strategies in emerald zones.
Colombia produced 3.3mn carats of emeralds in 2007 and 2.1mn carats in 2008, according to figures from the country's mining information system (Simco).