Mining companies are on a lookout for new sources for gemstones and Mozambique has emerged as the new source for rubies, aquamarine, morganite, tourmaline, garnets and other gemstones.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Mozambique was worth 16.39 billion US dollars in 2014. The GDP value of Mozambique represents 0.03 percent of the world economy. GDP in Mozambique averaged 5.74 USD Billion from 1980 until 2014, reaching an all-time high of 16.39 USD Billion in 2014 and a record low of 1.97 USD Billion in 1992. GDP in Mozambique is reported by the World Bank.
Mozambique's economy is predominantly services-based.
Agriculture accounts for 28.99 per cent of GDP and employs 80.50 per cent of the population. Manufacturing and industry accounts for 20.79 per cent of GDP and employs 3.40 per cent of the population. The service sector accounts for 50.22 per cent of the GDP and employs 16.10 per cent of the population.
Aquamarine, morganite, tourmaline, and other gemstones are mined in Zambezia Province; dumortierite, in Tete Province; and garnet, in Niassa Province. The mine output of garnet doubled to an estimated 4,400 kg in 2006; the increase may have been attributable to upgrades to the Cuamba Mine by Sociedade Mineira de Cuamba E.E.
Garnet production was expected to increase by 26 per cent in 2007.The production of dumortierite declined sharply in 2005 because of poor market conditions and a lack of equipment.In 2000, production was expected to increase by 10 per cent compared with an estimated 20 per cent in 2006.Copper-containing tourmaline was mined from an alluvial deposit in the Alto Ligonha District of Zambezia Province starting in early 2004; the mines were still producing at the end of 2006.
Though earlier finest quality rubies were known to be from Burma and Sri Lanka, lately Mozambique rubies have gained importance due to their high quality. Ruby production from Burma has been on a decline noticeably in recent years and most of the larger rubies entering the market are now from other sources, particularly Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar.
Mozambique has become particularly important since 2009 when high quality rubies, including some star rubies, were found in Montepuez in the northern part of the country. The new material differs from the rubies traditionally seen in the market such as those from most major commercial deposits, i.e. Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, but also from some deposits in Kenya and Tanzania where marble type rubies known for their strong fluorescent reactions that are related to their low iron content occur. They also differ markedly from the Thai / Cambodian rubies that are of basalt origin and which are known for their low fluorescent reactions due to a much higher iron content.
The Mozambique rubies got a new recognition when Montepuez Ruby Mining Company (MRM) was formed to take over the ruby deposit in Montepuez in June 2011. MRM is a partnership between the British company Gemfields (which owns 75 per cent of the shares), and the Mozambican company Mwiriti. Ever since, MRM has spent considerable amount of capital and efforts to improve infrastructure, machinery, staffing, security, and public relations. The most encouraging recognition of this joint venture was a visit by the president of Mozambique on April 20, 2013.
Gemfields is the world’s leading supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones, specialising in emeralds and amethysts from Zambia and rubies from Mozambique. Positioned at the intersection of exploration, mining and marketing, the company has pioneered leading environmental, social and safety standards within the sector and by doing so is able to provide discerning customers the assurance they require of the responsible journey their gemstones have taken from mine, to market.
As per Gemfields’ production summary for its 75 per cent-owned Montepuez Ruby Mining Limitada (“Montepuez”) in Mozambique’s Market Update – Quarter to 30 June 2015 - approximately 0.7 million carats of ruby and corundum extracted (versus 0.2 million carats in the quarter ending 30 June 2014); average grade of 9-carats per tonne (versus 3-carats per tonne in the quarter ending 30 June 2014); annual gemstone production of 8.4 million carats of ruby and corundum (versus 6.5 million carats in the year ending 30 June 2014), increase in processed volumes due to improvements in the wash plant; Average grade of 26 carats per tonne (versus 41 carats per tonne in the year ending 30 June 2014), attributed to a greater proportion of lower grade but higher quality alluvial ore deposit processed during the year. Maiden JORC Resource and Reserves statement for Montepuez announced in July 2015 with a total indicated and inferred mineral resource of 467 million carats of ruby and corundum and probable ore reserves of 432 million carats of ruby and corundum, giving a projected 21 year life of mine and an NPV of USD 996 million (based on 10 per cent base case discount rate); and Gemfields’ next auction of Montepuez production will be of predominantly higher quality rubies and is expected to take place in December 2015.
Security Issues Garimpeiros or the unlicensed miners are present all around the ruby mining areas. The network of garimpeiros is supported by foreigners who fund them and provide market for the illegally mined ruby roughs. Most of the African traders are mainly from the neighbouring Tanzania or West Africa (Guinea, Senegal, Mali, or Nigeria). These African traders usually work for merchants in Montepuez who are based out of Thailand, Sri Lanka, or India. Though the security staff at the mining areas especially at MRM, drives away the illegal miners, these garimpeiros often watch from a short distance away, waiting to return as soon as the security team leaves. This is partly because independent miners are considered “unlicensed” rather than “illegal.”