Gemfields Plc (GEM), the colored-gemstone miner that bought Faberge Ltd. this year, wants to supply a fifth of global demand for rubies from what could be the world’s biggest deposit in Mozambique.
The Montepuez project is estimated to contain as much as 40 percent of the world’s known supply of the red-colored stones, Gemfields Chief Executive Officer Ian Harebottle said yesterday in an interview in Lusaka, the capital of neighboring Zambia.
Operations at the deposit in the far north of Mozambique haven’t been affected by fighting in central Sofala province between government forces and the opposition group known as Renamo, according to Harebottle. Gemfields plans to more than double output at Montepuez by July as increasing demand from China makes a high-end ruby more valuable than a high-quality diamond of the same weight, he said.
“That’s because red is the color of prosperity, health and wealth in China so there’s a natural big demand for rubies,” said Harebottle, adding that the London-based company is happy mining in Mozambique. “There’s a lot more countries where there is a much bigger risk.”
Gemfields, owner of 75 percent the world’s biggest emerald mine in Zambia, plans to boost monthly production at Montepuez to 2.5 million carats by July, from about 1 million carats during the current trial phase, he said. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams.
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