London–Gemfields reported that its emerald production was down in the first quarter while ruby production surged ahead as Montepuez continues to ramp up production.
In the three-month period ended Sept. 30, production from the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia was 6 million carats, with an average grade of 174 carats per ton, compared with a 7.5-million-carat production and an average of 237 carats per ton in the prior-year period.
The company attributed the decrease in emerald production to the varied nature of the mineralization and a higher grade zone mined in Q1 2015.
Total operating costs at the site were $10.2 million in the first quarter, compared with $11.4 million last year.
The emerald auction comprised predominately of commercial quality rough emeralds held in Jaipur, India, in September generated revenues of $10.7 million, at an average value of $3.28 per carat.
The next auction, which will include predominantly higher quality rough emeralds, is slated for December in Singapore.
Meanwhile, ruby production at the Montepuez mine in Mozambique rose from 0.5 million carats to 4.5 million in the first quarter due to the processing of higher grade, but lower value, amphibolite resources.
The company also commenced operations at two new pits in the Mugloto and Glass areas during the first quarter.
Total operating costs at Montepuez in the three-month period were nearly flat at $5.8 million.
Gemfields is scheduled to hold an auction of mixed quality rough rubies, which also will take place in Singapore in December.
There also was an auction of mostly higher quality rough amethysts in Singapore in September that generated revenues of $400,000 and realized an average of about 4 cents per carat.
According to the company, it is on schedule to meet its target production of 40 million carats of rough emeralds from Kagem and 20 million carats of rough rubies from Montepuez within the next three years.
Meanwhile, Gemfields-owned jewelry brand Fabergé saw confirmed sales orders fall 23 percent in the first quarter, largely due to tough comps caused by the opening of two large wholesale partners in July 2015.
However, the number of sales transactions during the period increased 67 percent and the average selling price per piece was up 2 percent when compared with the prior-year period, reflecting a positive response to the brand’s shift in product mix as well as consumer engagement with its marketing campaign, Gemfields said.
In terms of developing projects, Gemfields continued its exploration and mining planning activities for completion of the Coscuez transaction in Colombia, and announced the next phase of development in Sri Lanka by calling for interested parties to supply gemstones.
The company said that five suppliers have been appointed as preferred suppliers so far.
In other company news, Gemfields announced that Chief Operating Officer Devidas Shetty stepped down from both his position and the company’s board of directors. Chief Financial Officer Janet Boyce took his place on the board.