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All prices quoted are in US dollar and stated per Kilogram, gram or carat.
Emeralds are part of the BERYL group of minerals. The beryls found in this area are: emerald, aquamarine, green / precious beryl and beryl. What sets the emerald apart from the other beryls are quality and colour. Emeralds are green, caused by slight presence of vanadium, chrome and or iron. Emeralds from Columbia has a bluish tint in them, from Zambia the tint may be anything from bluish to yellowish, but very clean (strong) green colour are often found in the latest products. When an emerald quality is low grade, or the colour not green enough it is clasified as beryl only. On average 35% of the total production in this area is of gemstone quality, 65% lower quality and industrial. This might also be due to the fact that real low quality emeralds and beryl are not even reclaimed at all but dumped with the waist.
During my conversation with the Emerald & Semi-Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia (ESMAZ) I learned that there are no more plots in the central ribbon of the emerald fields available. Some vacant lots are available in the extreme North and South border regions. An Indian group has bought all rights on the remaining plots.
At best, the actual yield of emeralds and other gemstone material is guess work. There is no accurate data available from Zambia. The main reasons being:
- True production and tonnage removal are not declared to the authority
- Very slack bookkeeping, if in existence at all
Even the government of Zambia does not know how many emeralds are produced. Estimations are that the official reported figures only reflects about 40% of the real production and 30% of the real values it was sold at.
PRODUCTION FROM MINES CLOSE TO PLOT 5G:
Most of the mine are not operational during the rainy season from November to March. During this period rain of up to 1,200 mm falls and makes it difficult and dangerous for vehicles to move around the pits. From my perspective, this will be the time to work through the overburden that was not checked during the excavation time and to prepare the new pits for the coming year. Many of the emerald mines are closed during the period November to April.
Plot 13, Gentina mine, second plot west of Plot 5G (also from third plot South)
Operated only for about six months during 1997, only one 50 ton excavator available, no bulldozer or any trucks. Produced 1,950 kg.
Plot 5K, second plot east of 5G, small 20 ha
Small scale mining with hand tools only and operating for three months - 225 kg for 1997
Kamakanga, second / third plot North of Plot 5G
One of five larger mechanised mines. During 1997 was operating on another property further north, but worked at Kamakanga for 6 months during 1996 and produced 2,450 kg. They have just begun mining this plot again.
Piralla, second plot North east of Plot 5G
One of five larger mechanised mines. Averaged 30 kg of emeralds per 380 tons of ore during the past two weeks with lateral mining at about 35 metres. The larger portion of these emeralds were of super grade( A+ & A). Info supplied by one of their managers present with Mr Shaba in the office.
Total operating mines (active): 23
of above, mechanised: 15
Open cast mining: 23
Underground mining: 00 (Kagem is presently the only mine considering it)
The following indicators are ascertained by ESMAZ and Rosmo Mining Consultants in Lusaka, tel no: (09-260-1)
24-0237. This data is applicable to the Piralla region (immediate vicinity of Plot 5G):
EMERALD: (the nice green variety of Beryl) Of the 35% jewellery grade:
3% top grade A+ (65+ points), prices above US$500 per carat (Zambia rates the higest in the world at present. Colombia is 2.2% and Zambia is 2.9%)
37% gemstone quality (A, B+, B or 25 to 65 points), prices from $20 to $500 per carat
60% lower grade (C or -25 points), prices from $1 to $20 per gram
AQUAMARINE: (Blue variety of Beryl) Of the jewelry grade (double sky blue, gemmy, clear, glass like)
Aquamarines are found more to the western side of the emerald area.
5% top grade obtaining prices in excess of $20 per gram
15% good jewellery grade prices between $2 and $20 per gram
80% average gem quality getting prices between $0-50 and $2-00 per gram
BERYL: The rest of the beryl group.
3% Gemstone quality with prices from $0-50 to $5-00 per gram
7% treatable stones, fair quality obtaining prices of $100 to $500 per Kg
90% lower quality beryl, prices from $5 to $100 per Kg.
In the Piralla area about 45% of all the jewellery grade gemstones found are emeralds, 8% Aquamarines, 15% other beryl, 30% of the quartz family and 1% tourmalines.
YIELD - ZAMBIAN PRODUCTION TOTALS FOR 1997:
Getting figures from Zambia ia a disaster. From all the information I could gather, I have tried to get a realistic figure. It is my own estimates based on the following facts:
Most of the gemstones of Zambia are illegally smuggled out of the country using the following techniques. Officially the statement is that about 40% is declared but I estimate that less than 20% in quantity and less than 15% in value is declared.
2. IN-ACCURATE EVALUATION:
I found a lot of confusion from some traders and miners especially between gram and carat. One gram is five carats, but often they are misled to show 'one' on the scale as carat where it is actually gram (5 carats).
Quality grading is an absolute mystery. You can buy junk for $50 per ct, of top quality for $10 per carat depending on what the local people think. Often size is their biggest indicator, or amount of host rock left on the crystal! Local people are not good at grading emeralds or determining their prices.
The Government seems to be asleep on something like US$8 per gram, although they are aware of prices in excess of $10,000 per carat at recent auctions, these never reflects in export figures! At a average price of $8-78 per gram (or $1-75 per carat) it will translate into less than $10-00 per carat polished emerald gemstone - including cutting and labor costs!
3. INTERNATIONAL TRADE:
Zambian emeralds are exported around the world. The finished gemstones are not always lab certified, thus you will find quite some Zambian emeralds being sold as Colombian, Brazilian or often as Sandawana (Zimbabwe). We have Brazilian people buying emeralds in Zambia and exporting it to Brazil! From there it is sold to the USA as Brazilian! Israeli traders often sell Zambian emeralds as Colombian to the far east and Europe.
Trading from the mines (and the street) in Zambia indicates the following major buyers of rough material with estimate quantities:
Emerald rough imports by countries I could find for 1997 indicates the following - excluding polished stones and emeralds set in jewelry: (Some do come from South America)
4. ZAMBIAN FIGURES:
Though from my experience I think these are very inaccurate but here they are:
THUS I ESTIMATE THE FOLLOWING:
I think you would agree with me that above prices are extremely low. The processing cost (faceting, polishing, etc.) of emeralds are about $4-00 per carat (in India I paid $1-50 per carat). Emeralds yield on average 22% of the rough material into polished gemstones. At above prices an average emerald gemstone will cost less than $30-00 per carat!! Now for the real hit - lower quality emerald gemstones sell retail at prices from US$200 per carat upwards.
Fact is: The Zambian gemstone production and value is considerable higher than the Government even suspect and a much larger percentage are smuggled out of the country. However, Zambia does not even get 10% of the values. Often the people who smuggle these products out are the owners or part owners on the mines and they keep their profits in the foreign countries.
During my visit to one of the bigger companies in India, I learned they get the stones from Zambia with a much deflated value (i.e. US$500 per Kg), polish them and export them to the USA still at the reduced value of say US$1,000 for the same parcel (1,000 carat at $1-00 ea) and then sell them at the realistic value of $200 or more per carat in the USA. They thus save on the export tax of Zambia, import duties in India and the USA.
The present quality and prices of Zambian emeralds are based on the following formula:
Based on the total production of emeralds alone and after depth of 15 metres has been reached. We will also produce aquamarine, citrine, various other quartz and some tourmalines)
1 gram = 5 carats. Prices are depending on the market and demand, however we should receive considerable higher prices especially on the better quality stones. All production sold as rough material.
The value of 1Kg of emeralds from less than 15 meters deep is around US$20,000
The value of 1Kg of emeralds from deeper than 15 meters is more than US$40,000
I have released my option on the neighbouring mine (#13) in June 1998. They obtained an investor from Taiwan and started excavation the first week of July. Their first emerald strike was on 22nd July at a depth of 14 meters in a small pit. The value of emeralds already exceeds US$160,000.
We should be able to move about 1,000 m³ p/day by the middle of the second month, thus enable us to clear out a pit of 70x100 meter and 15 meters deep by the third month. This pit would be well place with help from the geophysic analysis.
Based on above, I expect us to be producing emeralds within the first THREE months. From the second week we will already produce beryl, aquamarine and other quartz crystals.
Recovery expectations: Conservatively I expect emeralds in excess of 1,000 kg per year, more than 200 kg aquamarine and 5,000+ kg other minerals per year.
Above should generate an income in the range of US$20 million per year.
We should be able to move about 600 m³ p/day by the end of the second month, thus enable us to clear out a pit of 60x80 meter and 15 meters deep by the third month. This pit would be well place with help from the geophysic analysis.
Based on above, I expect us to be producing emeralds within the first FOUR months. From the second week we will already produce beryl, aquamarine and other quartz crystals.
Recovery expectations: Conservatively I expect emeralds in excess of 800 kg per year, more than 100 kg aquamarine and 5,000+ kg other minerals per year.
Above should generate an income in the range of US$16 million per year.
Both these mines were in operation and producing gemstones. It is just a matter of clearing out the area, pump water from the pits and continue mining. With the equipment required we should be able to work around 30 to 50 tons of material per day. No overburden to removed initialy, production could be immediatly. Another option is the alluvial deposits downstream that could be very prommissing.
As this mine (Maria III) was the main producer of emeralds in Mozambique before, we can safely bargain on a production of more than 50 Kg emeralds per month. Regarding other gemstones (from both mines) we expect an excess of 100 kg good material every month. This could very easily be far more.
This mine should generate an income in excess of US$15 million per year.
The future profits will mainly depend on the emerald productions and speed of expansion. The emerald mining venture is extremely profitable. However, we need to initiate with good machinery, a hard working team and an input of many man hours.
As with any mining venture there is a degree of speculation in it, but in this area the probable success is very high.
The absolute ideal is to have one investor to go for all three projects - investing US$500,000 and cover all areas. The risk would be reduced by more than 60% by covering three diferent areas and it will be easier to expand.
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