Sunday, December 17, 2017
Ian Harebottle

Ian Harebottle

Gemfields

WE reported last year that Gemfields CEO, Ian Harebottle, once “danced a jig” in Fabergé’s New York store when one of his customers told him that “diamonds were for grannies”. Unfortunately, the jig was shortlived for investors in 2016 when the firm’s share price halved to 33 pence. That was in response to indifferent interim results for the six months to end-December 2015, although the price had recovered by December. That hiccough aside, Gemfields is delivering on the vision of founder, Brian Gilbertson, who looked to create a company that would do for coloured gemstones what De Beers had done for diamonds. And Gemfields pretty much has. It produced a net profit after tax of $23.5m in the year to end-June, largely through production from the 75%-owned Kagem emerald mine in Zambia and the 75%-owned Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique. Mine revenues were also boosted by high-end jewellery sales through the iconic Fabergé stores world-wide which Gemfields owns. Plans are to increase production from Kagem and Montepuez while diversifying operations geographically into Colombia, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka. Product diversification through the development of sapphire mining is also on the cards. Gemfields has consolidated its position as the industry leader and has secured the financing needed to boost production from its mines into which some $90m will be invested over three years.

LIFE OF IAN

Ian graduated from the Witwatersrand Technical College in 1985 and holds a Graduate Diploma in Management from Henley Management College. He has extensive experience in coloured gemstones with initial involvement in tanzanite from 2001 when he joined Tanzanite One as its operations director. He was CEO of Tanzanite One from 2005 to 2008 joining Gemfields as CEO in 2009.

“Compared to the diamond sector, I think we have shot the lights out.”