Zambia to Decide on Allowing Overseas Emerald Auctions This Week

Zambia, the third-biggest emerald producer, will decide this week if it will allow stones mined in the country to be auctioned abroad, said Christopher Yaluma, the minister of mines, energy and water development.

The government will base its decision on the success of an auction under way in the capital, Lusaka, by Gemfields Plc’s local unit, he said in an interview today at the sale.

“We haven’t banned external auctions, it’s all dependent on how this thing performs,” Yaluma said of the auction. “The test of the pudding is in the eating.”

Gemfields, which operates the world’s biggest emerald mine, shifted an auction of the stones it planned to hold in Singapore last month to Lusaka at the request of the government, the London-based company said July 1. Selling the gems in Zambia leads to lower prices as Gemfields competes with illegal dealers, according to the company.

The Government is “very open” to having Zambia as one destination on an international circuit of auctions, Yaluma said.

Talks with the government over the possibility of again holding emerald auctions abroad continued to be positive, Ian Harebottle, Gemfields chief executive officer, told reporters at the Lusaka auction today.

“The idea is to look at all options and say what works best for Zambia -- what gives Zambia the best revenue and what brings Zambia the best taxes and royalties back,” he said.

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