Friday, January 13, 2017

Gemstones of Zambia

Zambia has the second largest deposits of emeralds in the world and accounts for about 20% of global supplies.

Zambia also possesses Africa's largest deposits of amethyst and some of the best aquamarine in the world.
Unfortunately the country has failed to benefit from these gemstone riches. There’s minimal employment creation. Most of the mines are not owned by Zambians and tax revenue is virtually non-existent.

Many mines in the country operate without a license and smuggle stones abroad. Stones are nearly always unprocessed and don't fetch good prices, as compared to cut and polished products.

The uncontrolled sale of gemstones and lack of accountability are just a few of the challenges being faced.

The open-pit Kagem mine. White pegmatite veins cut across the country rock.
In April 2016 the Zambian government banned the overseas auctioning of gemstones. In November plans were announced for a gemstone trading system to create a platform for buying and adding value to Zambian gemstones.

The opencast Kagem mine is producing between 1 and 3 million emerald carats a month.
Despite protests the new framework appears to be working so far. A low grade rough emeralds auction realized US$15.2 million which was the highest value ever realized. A July auction of high grade emeralds brought US$31.5 million and was the best ever in terms of value per carat sold. All of the 583,448 carats placed on offer changed hands.