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Gemfields prepares for inaugural ruby auction, reports sound quarter

2nd May 2014

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

  

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – As operations ramp up at its 75%-owned Montepuez ruby deposit, in Mozambique, Aim-listed Gemfields is preparing for its inaugural ruby auction in Singapore in mid-June.

"Gemfields is pleased to report on another sound quarter [to March], which has seen further progress at the Montepuez ruby deposit … with bulk-sampling operations continuing to scale-up progressively and consistently encouraging results,” said Gemfields CEO Ian Harebottle in a statement on Friday.

The coloured-gemstones mining and marketing company’s bulk-sampling operation netted 1.2-million carats of ruby and corundum during the quarter to March, a jump from the 500 000 ct extracted during the corresponding period the year before.

To date, 8.2-million ruby and corundum carats have been extracted from Montepuez.

The company said the fine-tuning of the “first-of-a-kind” comprehensive-grading and -sorting framework for rough rubies continued, while various downstream ruby and corundum enhancement processes were investigated, yielding encouraging results.

“The requisite core infrastructure is largely in place, which will accommodate a smooth transition to formalised mining once bulk sampling and permitting is completed. Improvements continue to be made to the pilot, semimobile ore-processing plant, improving efficiencies and the understanding of the ore characteristics,” Harebottle commented.

Meanwhile, Gemfield’s 75%-owned Kagem emerald mine, in Zambia, “endured” a second quarter of reduced production, as unseasonably high rainfalls and the characteristic grade volatility in coloured-gemstone mining weighed on output during the three months to March.

Emerald and beryl production during the period under review fell to 3.6-million carats compared with the 6.5-million carats achieved during the corresponding quarter the year before.

However, Harebottle said operations at the mine remained robust and in a “strong” position to benefit from an expected improvement in grades and overall production volumes.

During the March quarter, the company’s luxury jeweller, Fabergé, maintained its sales momentum, with revenue derived from sales and sales orders increasing 134% when compared with the same quarter in the prior year.

“Sales were supported by Fabergé exhibits at Baselworld, the world's biggest jewellery and watch fair, and at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition in Qatar … where progress continues to be made in building the client base,” Harebottle pointed out.

Gemfields also noted that the new designs and collections unveiled at Baselworld were “well-received” by clients and the press alike, with the first sales already concluded.

“Underlying gemstone markets remain healthy, supported by the ongoing increase in global demand for emeralds and other coloured gemstones,” Harebottle concluded.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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