2024-06-13

Unveiling Malawi’s ruby riches-a journey towards economic prosperity

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In this article, our reporter Chisomo Phiri talked to Gemologist Yamikani Jimusole who unveiled a treasure trove that has the potential to redefine Malawi’s economic landscape.

Surely, in the heart of Malawi, beneath the soil, lies a wealth of rubies that sparkle not just as precious gems but as beacons of economic prosperity.Jimusole’s insights in this regard, illuminate the path ahead, signaling a future where the brilliance of our rubies mirrors the resilience and promise of the Malawian spirit.

Below is the interview that the two had;

Chisomo: Mr.Jimusole, can you elaborate more on the historical significance of rubies in Malawi and how the Chimwadzulu mine has played a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s gemstone legacy?

Yamikani Jimusole: The history of rubies in Malawi is deeply intertwined with the Chimwadzulu mine, which has stood as a beacon of the nation’s gemstone wealth since the 1920s. These precious gems, known for their intense red hues and exceptional durability, hold cultural and symbolic importance. The Chimwadzulu mine, with its rich deposits, has been a cornerstone in shaping Malawi’s identity in the global gemstone market.

Chisomo: You mentioned the spotlight on Mangochi rubies around 2012.Can you delve into what makes Mangochi rubies unique in Malawi’s gemstone narrative and the geological factors that contribute to their distinctiveness?

Yamikani Jimusole: Certainly, Chisomo. Mangochi rubies gained prominence due to their unique geological composition. The region’s geological diversity has resulted in rubies with exceptional color and quality. The intricate interplay of geological factors has positioned Mangochi as a remarkable source of gemstones, showcasing the geological wealth that Malawi possesses.

Chisomo: What does this recent ruby discovery mean for Malawi, a country considered one of the poorest in the world? How can the ruby industry contribute to addressing the trade deficit and forex shortages?

Yamikani Jimusole: The discovery offers a transformative opportunity. The ruby industry has the potential to bridge the trade deficit, end forex shortages, and contribute significantly to economic growth. By leveraging our gemstone wealth responsibly, we can reshape Malawi’s economic narrative.
The economic impact extends beyond profits; it becomes a catalyst for positive change, offering sustainable growth and prosperity for our nation.The global ruby market holds a value in the billions of dollars, and with 21 potential mining sites of ruby in Malawi, the sector has the potential to generate at least a billion dollars annually.

Chisomo: How does YAGLE envision Malawi’s role in the global gemstone market, especially with the recent surge in demand for rubies?

Yamikani Jimusole: Malawi’s role is poised for transformation. With the recent surge in demand, our nation stands as a key player, setting new standards and becoming synonymous with excellence in the world of gemstones.

Chisomo: Who are the key industry players, according to the rough ruby market report?

Yamikani: The major players in the industry are Gemfield Plc, Gem Bridge, Mwriti Limitada, FURA Gems, and Gem Rock, Greenland Ruby among others.

Chisomo: How valuable is raw ruby?

Yamikani: The value of a raw ruby depends upon the clarity and carat, with raw rubies of fine quality estimated to be worth USD 1,000 per carat.

Chisomo: The world record ruby sale in Mozambique for $34.8 million in June 2023 signifies the lucrative nature of the ruby business. How does this impact Malawi’s position in the global market?

Yamikani Jimusole: It validates the potential of Malawi’s ruby deposits, positioning our nation.

Chisomo: How does YAGLE envision Malawi’s role in the global gemstone market, especially considering the recent surge in demand for rubies?

Yamikani Jimusole: Malawi’s role is on the cusp of transformation. With the recent surge in demand, our nation is poised to become a key player, setting new standards and establishing itself as synonymous with excellence in the world of gemstones.

Chisomo: Considering the recent world record ruby sale in Mozambique for $34.8 million in June 2023, how does this impact Malawi’s position in the global market, and what economic benefits could potentially arise?

Yamikani Jimusole: This validates the potential of Malawi’s ruby deposits, solidifying our position as a significant player. The exceptional sale not only underscores the lucrative nature of the ruby business but also highlights the substantial economic benefits our gemstones can bring. This recognition enhances Malawi’s standing, attracting attention and establishing our country as a noteworthy contributor to the international gemstone trade, fostering economic growth and prosperity.

Chisomo: We are diving into the legal intricacies surrounding the Chimwadzulu mine. Yamikani, can you shed more light on the staggering amount of $309.6 billion that the Attorney General is seeking in the lawsuit against Columbia Gemhouse and Nyala Mining Ltd?

Yamikani Jimusole: Certainly, Chisomo. The figure of $309.6 billion represents the claimed unpaid royalties, taxes, and dividends owed by these companies to Malawi for the period from 2008 to 2014. It’s a substantial amount that underscores the financial impact of the Chimwadzulu mine on our nation.

Chisomo: YAGLE has been vocal about the necessity of involving Gemologists and accredited jewelry appraisers in these calculations. Can you elaborate more on why this expertise is crucial in determining the losses fairly?

Yamikani Jimusole: Absolutely, Chisomo. Gemology is a specialized field that requires a deep understanding of the value of gemstones. The calculations involved in assessing losses related to gemstone production and trade should ideally be handled by experts who comprehend the nuances of the industry. Involving Gemologists and accredited jewelry appraisers ensures a more accurate and fair evaluation of the financial impact associated with the Chimwadzulu mine.

Jimusole and team visiting Chimwadzulu mine.

Chisomo: YAGLE’s informal advice to the Attorney General highlights the importance of gemological expertise. Can you share more about the role YAGLE played in encouraging a more nuanced approach to these legal proceedings?

Yamikani Jimusole: YAGLE recognizes the significance of accurate assessments, especially in a complex industry like gem mining. We informally advised the Attorney General to involve Gemologists and accredited jewelry appraisers to guarantee a thorough evaluation of the losses. Our aim is to contribute to a fair resolution that takes into account the intricacies of gemstone valuation.
Chisomo: It is interesting to note that the Attorney General has sought the expertise of a consultant from overseas. How does this development impact the ongoing legal proceedings?

Yamikani Jimusole: While seeking international expertise can be beneficial, the crucial challenge here is the absence of a gemology expert in the consultation. Gemstones, especially rubies, have unique characteristics that influence their value. Without a Gemologist involved, there is a risk of overlooking crucial aspects in the evaluation process, which could impact the accuracy of the legal proceedings.

Chisomo: The shortage of accredited gemologists and appraisers is a concern. Can you elaborate on YAGLE’s initiatives to address this expertise gap through education and training?

Yamikani Jimusole: Addressing the expertise gap is pivotal for the sustainable growth of the ruby industry in Malawi. YAGLE is committed to investing in education and training initiatives that empower local talent. By nurturing a skilled workforce, we not only enhance the industry’s capabilities but also create opportunities for Malawians to actively contribute to the burgeoning gemstone sector. Education becomes a cornerstone for building a legacy of expertise and ensuring the responsible development of our nation’s gemstone resources.

Chisomo: Mr. Jimusole, we have now delved into the incredible potential of Malawi’s rubies. Can you elaborate on YAGLE’s commitment to leading by example, particularly in your exploration and development plans for one ruby deposit in Mangochi?

Yamikani Jimusole: YAGLE isn’t merely an advocate for responsible ruby industry development; we strive to set the standard through leading by example. Our dedication extends to exploring and developing the ruby deposit in Makanjira and Maringo, Mangochi. This initiative aims to establish a benchmark for ethical and sustainable mining practices. We initiated ruby prospecting in 2018 spurred by our participation in the World Ruby Forum and GIA training in Bangkok in 2017. We submitted our application for the ruby deposit in 2022, and it was successful. Currently, we are progressing with the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) submission for the expansive area covering about 25,000 hectares.

Our exploration in Mangochi is not solely about extracting precious gems; it’s about cultivating a harmonious relationship with the environment, local communities, and the nation at large. We are gearing up for a comprehensive three-year exploration in 2024, incorporating cutting-edge technology such as airborne magnetic surveys and remote sensing.

Chisomo: Leading by example is crucial, especially in an industry with global implications. How does YAGLE plan to share the insights gained from this exploration with the broader international mining community?

Yamikani Jimusole: Transparency is fundamental to our approach. We plan to openly share our experiences, successes, and challenges. By doing so, we contribute to the global discourse on sustainable mining, inspiring others in the industry to adopt practices prioritizing both people and the planet. Our goal is to catalyze a positive transformation in the way mining operations are conducted worldwide.

Chisomo: As we conclude this enlightening conversation, Mr. Jimusole, can you share your vision for the future of Malawi’s ruby industry and the role you hope YAGLE will play?

Yamikani Jimusole: Our vision is rooted in a future where Malawi’s rubies are celebrated not only for their beauty but for the positive impact they bring. We envision an industry that empowers local communities, preserves our natural heritage, and positions Malawi as a global leader in responsible gemstone sourcing. YAGLE’s role is to be the catalyst for this transformation, working hand in hand with all stakeholders to build a legacy of prosperity, sustainability, and pride.

Chisomo: As we approach the conclusion, let’s reflect on your journey in gemology. Can you share insights into your educational background and the notable certifications you’ve acquired that position you as a leading gemologist in Malawi?

My venture into gemology began with a fervent passion for understanding and appreciating precious stones. Alongside earning an advanced diploma in business management from Malawi College of Accountancy, I achieved a graduate gemologist certification from the esteemed Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in 2017, marking me as the sole graduate Gemologist from Malawi to date from this prestigious institution.
Further enhancing my expertise, I obtained a Chatham Created Gems certification from the International School of Gemology in 2023. My commitment to continuous learning led me to secure certifications in information processing and digital journalism. Looking ahead, I have plans to enroll in advanced courses covering gemology, jewelry design, and entrepreneurship to further deepen my understanding and contribute to the gemstone industry’s growth.

In addition to my gemological pursuits, I take pride in being an alumna of the Eton of Africa, the Kamuzu Academy, where I graduated in both As and O levels. This academic foundation, coupled with my gemological expertise, positions me to play a pivotal role in shaping Malawi’s prominence in the global gemstone market.

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