Zambia-focused precious stones miner Gemfields has garnered revenues of $35.14-million from its most recent auction of predominantly rough emeralds extracted by subsidiary Kagem Mining, as well as the sale of amethyst mined by 50%-owned Kariba Minerals.
Held in Singapore from August 31 to September 4, the auction followed seven successive emerald auctions held in Lusaka, Zambia, and marked the return of Zambian emerald auctions to the broader international market.
The auction saw 600 000 ct of higher-quality emerald extracted from Kagem placed on offer, with 18 of the 19 lots on offer sold, generating auction revenues of $34.7-million. The emerald auction realised an overall average value of $58.42/ct – the third-highest figure on record. The company’s 19 auctions of emeralds and beryl mined at Kagem since July 2009 had generated $360-million in total revenues, the company disclosed in a statement on Monday.
Gemfields’ amethyst auction, meanwhile, saw 11-million carats of higher-quality amethyst extracted from Kariba placed on offer, with 11 of the 16 lots offered being sold, generating auction revenues of $400 000 from the 10.1-million carats sold.
The amethyst auction realised an overall average value of $0.43/ct – an increase of 144% compared with the $0.17/ct realised in the February 2015 auction. Commenting on the auction results, CEO Ian Harebottle said that, with 98% of the emeralds sold, it was “very pleasing” to see Zambian emeralds continuing to enjoy such firm demand, aided by Gemfields’ return to running an auction in Singapore “Our Singapore auction has delivered another very strong result for our Kagem emeralds.
Despite severely depressed global commodity prices, well-documented difficulties in the diamond sector and recent volatility across international financial markets, emerald prices remain as robust as ever. “The countercyclicality often associated with precious gemstones, and their reputation as a store of value in turbulent times, have shone through,” he remarked. Investec, however, commented that the auction results were disappointing. “This perhaps indicates that the emerald market is not completely insulated from the pains the diamond industry has been going through.
The long-term value proposition remains intact in our view but near-term earnings could come under pressure if this trend is not reversed,” it said. Meanwhile, Harebottle noted that it was also pleasing to see that the prices received for amethyst had increased “markedly” since the last auction in February. “I’m delighted that these results underscore the intended vision and trajectory for coloured gemstones and for Gemfields,” he enthused. The proceeds of the auctions would be fully repatriated to Kagem Mining and Kariba Minerals in Zambia, Gemfields advised. The company’s next auction was expected to take place in November, comprised predominantly of lower-quality emerald and beryl.