Zambia's main emerald producer mulls doubling production

Zambia's main emerald producer mulls doubling productionLusaka, Jan 26 - Zambia's largest emerald producer, Kagem Mining, plans to double production in the next five years as it tries to put the country's emeralds at the forefront of the world's jewellery industry, a senior company official said.

The company, which is 75 percent owned by London-listed Gemfields Group of Companies and 25 percent by the Zambian government, plans to increase production from the current 2.5 million carats per year to five million carats, according to Ian Harebottle, the company's chief executive officer.

"It is an ambitious program as it will put Zambia at the top of the world market but we will need to invest about $100 million to double production," he said during a press briefing.

The company, he said, has managed to revive the emerald mine since acquiring shares in 2008 by investing heavily in machinery and human resource, adding that the company is pioneering a revolutionary approach to the gemstone sector by focusing on adding value to the rough diamonds, reported Xinhua.

The company has so far invested about $100 million in improving the mine's operations.

"Kagem has now embarked on a new phase of its strategy, after being rescued from bankruptcy in 2008 by Gemfields, which has turned it from a loss-making, debt-ridden shell into a thriving enterprise that now produces approximately 20 percent of the world' s global rough emerald supply," he said. (IANS)

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