Toronto–Fura Gems has entered into an agreement that will see it take ownership of the Coscuez emerald mine in Colombia.
The gemstone mining company announced Sunday that it has entered into a share purchase agreement with Emporium in which Fura has agreed to purchase 76 percent of shares of Esmeracol S.A. from the latter for $10.2 million.
Emporium will continue to hold a 21.71 percent interest in Esmeracol, with the remaining 2.29 percent belonging to minority shareholders.
The deal is expected to be completed on or before Dec.15.
Fura Gems used to be known as Fura Emeralds. Former Gemfields COO Dev Shetty joined the team in mid-January as president and CEO, when the company already had an emerald exploration license in Colombia, but it changed its name to Fura Gems in February to reflect an expansion of the business beyond emeralds.
The company Fura Gems just bought a majority stake in Esmeracol, owns the mining license for Cosuez, the renowned emerald mine located in the Boyacá state of Colombia.
Covering an area of 46 hectares (almost 114 acres), Coscuez has been the source for some of the finest emeralds in the world. It has been operated largely on a small-scale basis up to now, but Fura said it will modernize the mine, with the goal of ramping up production of emeralds within six months of the deal closing.
Its short-term plan will focus on improving the mine’s infrastructure and developing safe and effective operations, including the construction of a 1/7 gradient, positive and negative ramp system as well as horizontal tunnel construction to optimize access to the orebody and allow for the modernization of the extraction process.
Shetty told National Jeweler that they can’t yet give specific numbers on production goals.
“The current operation in Colombia is on small-scale basis due to need to improve the geological understanding and improve the mining method,” he said. “As we start getting ourselves into the ground we will be able to give more clarity on the numbers.
“We plan to expand the current underground shaft and create safer environment for employees. We also will build a new decline once we have received the necessary approval from the relevant authorities. The production will be definitely significantly more than the current levels.”
The plan is to start selling rough within 18 to 24 months. The rough emeralds will be sold via organized platforms, mainly via auction, Shetty said.
Fura also will set up a marketing platform to promote Colombian emeralds globally, as well as develop a communication platform under its sustainability team to engage with the local community to explain to them about the company strategy, its vision, plans, and safety and environmental efforts.
London-headquartered mining company Gemfields had once planned to expand into Colombian emeralds through the acquisition of the Coscuez mine in a deal announced in 2015.
But earlier this year the company said it was pulling out of Colombia and Sri Lanka, where it was going to mine sapphires, choosing instead to focus on its current portfolio of assets in Africa and expansion opportunities in Zambia, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
Fura Gems Inc.’s corporate headquarters are in Toronto, and its administrative headquarters are in the Almas Tower in Dubai.
Fura also has four ruby licenses in Mozambique, three of which are north of Gemfields’ ruby project and one toward the south, which the company believes is a new belt for the stones.
The company has commenced drilling programs for the three northern licenses, and the first phase should be completed on or before Dec. 31.