US$28.4 million in foreign exchange earnings has been raised from an auction of high-quality Zambian emeralds – including the exceptionally rare 5,655 carat (1.13kg) Inkalamu emerald – held in Singapore last week.
The sale of gemstones from the Kagem mine in Lufwanyama was witnessed by Mr Paul Chanda, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development along with other officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development, Zambia Revenue Authority and the Chief Executive Officer of the Industrial Development Corporation Mateyo Kaluba.
“All of the proceeds from the auction will be repatriated back to Zambia,” confirmed Sean Gilbertson, Chief Executive Officer of Kagem and Gemfields, which owns 75% of the mine in partnership with the Zambian government through the Industrial Development Corporation of Zambia, which owns 25%.
The auction saw 40 companies placing bids and generating total revenues of US$28.4 million with an overall average value of US$68.03 per carat. Improved liquidity in the trade customers resulted in 74% of the offered carats being sold, versus 56% in the last auction of higher quality emeralds held in Lusaka in May 2018. Of the number of lots offered, 77% were sold (versus 59% in the May 2018 auction).
Gemfields’ 30 auctions of emeralds and beryl mined at Kagem since July 2009 have generated USD 556 million in total revenues.
Adrian Banks, Gemfields’ Managing Director of Product & Sales, said: “The results of what was our first Singapore emerald auction in more than three years clearly reflect the emerging recovery among our trade customers after a protracted period of difficulty. The marked increases in the percentage of carats and number of lots sold, combined with the uptick in per carat price, bode well for further improvement in 2019.
Proceeds from the auction will be remitted to Zambia for reinvestment in operations, including on-going upgrades to employee facilities, and additional equipment that will also generate associated employment opportunities and repayment of debt.”
“Kagem and Gemfields believe coloured gemstones should be mined and marketed by championing three key values – legitimacy, transparency and integrity. We also believe that Zambia should benefit equitably from its natural resources through the taxes we contribute to the government, the foreign exchange earnings we generate, increased local employment, and the social impact of our community projects,” said Mr Gilbertson.
The main focus of attention was the Inkalamu – Lion – emerald, a rare 5,655 carat emerald that shows remarkable clarity and a perfectly balanced golden green colour, which attracted international media attention on discovery last month. The exceptional piece was purchased at the auction by Rajkumar and Rishabh Tongya of Dia-Color, specialists in high-value gems.
The gemstone was discovered in the eastern part of Kagem’s open-pit mine on October 2, 2018 by geologist Debapriya Rakshit and veteran emerald miner Richard Kapeta, who has more than a decade of experience mining Zambian emeralds for the Gemfields group.
Inkalamu – the Lion emerald – was named in honour of the work carried out by two of Gemfields’ conservation partners, the Zambian Carnivore Programme (www.zambiancarnivores.org) and the Niassa Carnivore Project in Mozambique (www.niassalion.org). Gemfields has three-year philanthropic sponsorships with each organisation to aid them in wildlife conservation, promote community development and stem the problem of poaching by developing alternative livelihoods. In addition, Gemfields will divide 10% of Inkalamu’s auction proceeds equally between the two carnivore initiatives.