July 22 (Reuters) - Emerald miner Gemfields Plc said it sold a little over half a million carats of rough stones at its first high-quality emerald auction in Lusaka, Zambia, raking in $31.5 million.
Gemfields, owner of the Fabergé luxury jewellery brand, said it realised an average price of $54 per carat, its highest in an auction.
The Zambian Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development issued a directive in April that all auctioning of emeralds mined in the country be held in Zambia, as their sale in foreign markets contributes to capital flight.
Gemfields was selling output from its core Kagem mine in north Zambia outside the country until the government directive came into force.
Gemfields had forecast a 46 percent fall in auction revenue for the year ended June 30 as it was forced to move this auction from Singapore to Lusaka. The delay pushed the resultant auction revenue to the current fiscal year.
Of the 40 companies invited to the Lusaka auction, 37 attended, and 36 attendees placed at least one bid, the company said.
“All indications show that demand for coloured gemstones, and especially emeralds, will continue to increase at a steady pace over the coming year,” Chief Executive Ian Harebottle said in a statement.
Gemfields shares were up 5 percent in thin trading at 21.6 pence at 0727 GMT on the London Stock Exchange on Monday.