• Announced Colombian acquisitions in September amid expansion
  • Plans to use pumps to access deposits at new Coscuez mine

Returning Colombia to its emerald glory days depends largely on tapping a bounty of gemstones buried under the country’s water table, according to the world’s top producer.

Gemfields Plc, the London-based owner of Faberge Ltd., is looking at a system of pumps to access deposits at a Colombian mine it bought last month, Chief Operating Officer Dev Shetty said Wednesday in an interview in Bogota.

Colombian production of emeralds, famed for their color and quality, has fallen behind Zambia and Brazil as easily accessible gems become scarce. The country produced about 2 million carats last year, compared with almost 10 million in 2004, according to the national mining agency. Gemfields wants to help turn that around by figuring out a way to divert water under its Coscuez mine, in which the company bought a 70 percent stake.

The mine is “just scratching the surface” because of lack of investment and technology, Shetty said. “I’m pretty sure that we’re going to win there. We have a very good understanding of the ore body.”

Gemfields has already filled senior management positions in Colombia after announcing acquisitions there last month.

“Colombia has been the top of the top for emeralds,” he said. ‘We believe Gemfields can contribute a lot to bring Colombia back to where it was.”

Christian Dior SE, Bulgari and Macy’s Inc., are among the brands selling jewelry using precious stones mined by Gemfields in Zambia and Mozambique, he said.

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