We are targeting 8-10% share of the US$ 2 billion global coloured gemstone market
Fura Gems (est. 2017) – a recent entrant in the global gemstone mining industry, operates a ruby mine in Mozambique and the iconic Coscuez emerald mine in Colombia. A part of Forbes and Manhattan (Canadian private merchant bank), Fura is led by Dev Shetty as President and CEO. A former Group COO and Board member of Gemfields plc, he joined Fura in January 2017. He sees the fragmented and unorganised nature of the colour gemstone industry as a major challenge and is working towards organising the sector. In this interview with Floroscent, he says that Fura is targeting 8-10 per cent share of the US$ 2 billion global coloured gemstone market and India is on its growth radar.
Let’s start with some background on Fura Gems, its key activities and goals?
Fura Gems is a gemstone mining and marketing company, we are engaged in the mining, exploration and acquisition of gemstone licenses. We are headquartered in Toronto, Canada and our administrative headquarters is at the Almas Tower, Dubai. We are listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. We are engaged in the exploration of resource properties in Colombia and own a 76 per cent interest the Coscuez emerald mine in Boyacá and we are also involved in the exploration and mining of rubies in Mozambique through its 80 per cent effective interest in the four ruby licenses. Our goal is to acquire an 8 to 10 per cent market share of the global US$ 2 billion colored gemstone market in the next 3 years in addition to being an employee-friendly, sustainability-driven, community-centered enterprise.
What have been the highlights in terms of mining projects for Fura thus far?
We have achieved an important milestone by commencing the bulk sampling mining operation at the Coscuez emerald mine within eight weeks of the completing the acquisition of the mine. The initial production of 1,720 carats of emeralds, including 826 carats of top quality emeralds, during the early stage of the program further confirms the quality of the Coscuez emerald mine. We will continue to build our geological knowledge of the license area and also strive to modernise the Coscuez emerald mine. Fura has now become the first publicly listed company in the world to commence a bulk sampling operation in Colombia, the world’s largest supplier of emerald.
How did you get involved with Coscuez Emerald Mine, Columbia and what is your vision for it? How promising is the mining industry in Columbia now?
The management team of Fura has previously worked on the Coscuez emerald mine in their earlier company and hence we were fully aware of the rich reserves and high value that can be unlocked at Coscuez. Not to mention it is a very iconic mine and in the 1970’s the mine was single handedly responsible for 50 per cent of the worlds emeralds. The Colombian government is also very supportive of our initiatives and it gives us great pleasure to work in Colombia. What draws us to Colombia is the very high global aspiration that Colombian emeralds have.
Fura Gems had shown interest in the Bunder Diamond Project in Madhya Pradesh. Could you walk us through that and also explain the mine prospects?
It is still very early to divulge any details on the Bunder project, but we are aggressively planning on bidding for the mine.
Could you tell us about the current trends in the colourstone sector? Which are the key international gemstone markets and the new emerging markets?
The trend is certainly bending towards coloured gemstones with more and more designers making trendy coloured stone jewellery. It appeals to the millennials and their sense of taste. That said USA tops the chart in terms of coloured gemstone consumption and then comes China, India and the Middle East. The European countries also consume high quality of coloured stones since international brands and designers use higher end coloured stones to enhance their jewellery.
What according to you are the major challenges that the gemstone industry is facing today?
The biggest challenge that the gemstone industry faces is that it is highly fragmented and unorganised. We are trying to organise this unorganised gemstone sector and we hope that more and more organised players join this segment.
What’s your take on the generic promotion of coloured gemstones?
Since there is no player in this category who has a very significant market share (over 30 or 40 per cent) the concept of generic promotion would be quite difficult. However, in the future miners could come together and create a common pool to market coloured gemstones. Fura on this part will assume industry leadership position and will market Colombian emeralds and Mozambique rubies. The aim of Fura’s marketing campaign will be to build aspiration and demand for Colombian emeralds and Mozambican rubies.
How the blockchain technology can benefit the global gemstone trade? What kind of traceability technology Fura Gems is using at present?
Offering 100 percent traceability throughout the gemstone production chain, to have each stone be uniquely identified from the moment it is extracted from the ground and tracked throughout its journey until it reaches the consumer’s hands as an individual gemstone or as part of a finished jewellery piece is what should benefit the trade. We at Fura are talking to various industry players and experts on how best we can implement Blockchain.
What are Fura’s investment plans in India?
As a part of our larger expansion strategy, India is one of the top 3 markets for us. We are aggressively looking at the Bunder Diamond project in Madhya Pradesh and projects in the states of Jharkhand and Odissha, which have a huge potential in terms of mineral deposits. We will be exploring mining acquisitions in these regions and will be working closely with the central and state governments. Given our experience, we are confident of reducing India’s coloured gemstones imports substantially.
Moreover, as you know that 60 per cent of the world’s emeralds are cut and polished in India and India consumes 20-25 per cent of the world’s emeralds, so it continues to be a very important market for us. We will have a very strong marketing base in India.
What is your vision for the gemstone industry? And what is Fura’s strategic direction for the next two-three years?
Fura’s strategy would be to capture an 8 to 10 per cent market share of the global US$ 2 billion gemstone market in the next 2 to 3 years. We will like to see the industry getting more organised. We would like to offer complete transparency.