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Covid-19 curtails emerald auction sales

By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
ZAMBIA’S emerald sector is desperate to find ways of conducting auction sales which provide liquidity for continued business operations.
The sector is currently unable to conduct auction sales because of travel bans which had been put in place by some countries due to the outbreak of Covid-19, says the Emeralds and Semi-Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia (ESMAZ).
ESMAZ president, Victor Kalesha, said in an interview that the sector players depended on profit from auction sales for sustained operations.
“As it is now that there are limitations on movements and some borders are closed and also the cancellation of people coming in from India because of covid-19, our members are unable to auction their emeralds, and if they cannot auction, it means that they cannot mine because we depend mostly on auctioning,” he said.
Mr Kalesha said sector players were not making any money because of lack of customers to buy the stones.
He explained that the players were stuck with their stones because auctioning needed a buyer to physically see the products before purchasing them.
“Our general membership depends on auctioning their products then get their operating profits out of that but as it is, they are all stuck because they cannot auction and if they cannot auction it means there is no money in circulation in the sector.
“We hope Government could put in place modalities so that they could allow especially our big guys such as Kagem and Grizzly Mining to conduct some auctions ales in a certain way so that they can have revenue to do their operation,” he said.
Mr Kalesha also said the Covid-19 period had affected the investors who had intended to come to Zambia this year.
“They are stuck because they cannot come and send in their money and we are seeing that the sector has been stalled for some time until the pandemic is confirmed,” he said.

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