Gemfields full-year profit rises 2% on record ruby, emerald sales

(Reuters) – Faberge jewellery brand owner Gemfields Group reported a 2% rise in full-year profit on Friday helped by higher prices for uncut emeralds and rubies.

The precious stone miner said headline earnings per share, the main profit measure in South Africa, rose to 4.8 U.S. dollar cents for the year ended Dec. 31, from 4.7 U.S. dollar cents a year earlier.

Gemfields owns 75% each of the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique and Kagem emerald mine in Zambia, with the two countries’ respective governments owning the balance. It also owns the Faberge jewellery brand.

Higher gem prices drove Gemfields’ revenue to a record high $341 million in 2022, up 32% from $258 million the year before.

The Mozambique ruby mine’s revenue was $167 million, a 13% increase on the previous year, while the Zambian emerald mine contributed $147 million to group revenue, after a 62% increase. Faberge’s contribution to Gemfields’ revenue was $18 million, a 28% increase from 2021.

Gemfields’ Mozambican operations are in the northern Cabo Delgado province, which has seen an Islamic State-linked insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives since it broke out in 2017, disrupting multi-billion-dollar natural gas and mining projects.

Gemfields’ CEO Sean Gilbertson told analysts on Friday operations at Montepuez ruby mine remained stable and uninterrupted, although the company temporarily shut down its exploration camp at Nairoto in February after an insurgency attack was reported nearby.

Gilbertson said employees had started to return to the camp, where Gemfields is exploring for gold.

Last October, Gemfields suspended operations at Montepuez for four days after an attack attributed to insurgent activity was reported at the neighbouring ruby mine belonging to Gemrock, about 12 km (7.46 miles) away.

(Reporting by Hani Kollathodi in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Rashmi Aich and Louise Heavens)