Gemfields eyes ruby-laden Myanmar as Asian nation opens up

Gemfields, the world’s biggest emerald producer, is considering tapping Myanmar for its rubies as the Asian nation moves closer to naming a president.

“It makes Burma more attractive,” Ian Harebottle, chief executive officer of London-based Gemfields, said in an interview in Cape Town, using another name for the country. “Now that Burma is opening up, we’ve just recently had one of our geologists there. I’m keen to go and visit fairly soon.”

Gemfields is looking for acquisitions and predicts that prices of the colored stones could double in the next five years, Harebottle said. Myanmar has historically accounted for 80 to 90% of global ruby supply, he said. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party assumed control of the nation’s parliament earlier this month as more than half a century of military rule in the country comes to an end.

The company probably needs to increase its $30 million of net debt to keep growing, Harebottle said, adding that it could sustain about $50 million of debt. Harebottle has been CEO of Gemfields since 2009 and has overseen a 16-fold jump in the stock during that time, with the company now valued at about $350 million.

Gemfields’ Montepuez mine in Mozambique is estimated to contain as much as 40% of the world’s known supply of the deep-red stones. As well as mining rubies, the company has amassed 20% of the emerald market to become the biggest producer.

 

Source: Mine Web

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