GEMFIELDS, the company which owns 75 percent shareholding in Zambia’s Kagem Mine on the Copperbelt, has increased its gemstone production by more than 40 percent in the last three months ended December 31.
The company chief executive officer Mr Ian Harebottle said the increased mining activity at both the Kagem and Montepuez in Mozambique mines had, led to higher operating costs.
The company produced 5.8 million carats of emerald and beryl during the second quarter of the 2014 financial year, compared with the 3.9 million carats produced in the December 2013 quarter.
Mr Harebottle said with a clear focus on increasing the scale of operations across all divisions, quarterly gemstone production was up by more than 40 percent compared to the same quarter last year.
He said operating costs at Kagem in Zambia increased to $11.6 million in the quarter under review, compared with $7.2 million in the December 2013 quarter, while operating costs at Montepuez in Mozambique rose to $5.7-million, compared with $2.3-million in the prior comparative quarter.
He said Kagem open pit operations remained viable in light of robust emerald prices and that there was potential to further extend these operations, while plans were progressing to move to underground mining.
Mr Harebottle said a trial underground mining project had been placed on care and maintenance during the quarter under review.
He said the results of the trial mining will be incorporated into the study of larger-scale underground operations and the development of a detailed underground mine plan.
According to Gemfields, November 2014 auction of higher-quality rough emerald and beryl had earned it revenue of $34.9-million.
Its next auction of predominantly lower-quality emerald and beryl would be held at the end of February, while December 2014 auction of higher-quality rubies earned Gemfields $43.3-million, and the next auction of predominantly lower-quality rubies and corundum would be held in India in March.
He said such results on two auctions demonstrated the ongoing firmness in global demand for coloured gemstones and associated jewellery.
Mr Harebottle was cheerful about the growth and development in the sector, and that he expected much more in the next auctions.