MINES deputy minister Richard Musukwa says “there is no ban” on auctioning of Zambia’s emeralds abroad.
However, in April, then mines minister, Yamfwa Mukanga, directed that all Zambian emeralds be auctioned in the country, contending that “Zambian gemstones have for a long time been sold on foreign markets and the situation has contributed to capital flight.”
Gemfields, the nation’s biggest producer of the gems, then complained that the company’s sales would be hurt by such an arrangement.
A sale in Singapore that was due on June 10 to 14 was postponed as Gemfields sought clarification on the rules.
But when pressed in London on the ban on overseas auctions, according to the latest issue of The Global Mining Observer, Musukwa replied, “What ban? There is no ban. We as shareholders want the best possible price.”
Musukwa, who attended a roundtable meeting on Wednesday at the Mining On Top: Africa – London summit, said that auctions could alternate between Lusaka and Singapore.
Since 2009, Gemfields has auctioned emeralds from Kagem, the world’s largest emerald mine, producing 27 million carats in 2012, in London, Johannesburg, Jaipur and Singapore.