Mozambique: Government Auctioning Seized Minerals

We publish courtesy of AllAfrica

Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Mineral Resources is planning to sell off to the highest bidder around ten tonnes of assorted contraband minerals seized from traffickers in precious and semi-previous stones.

The Executive Director of the government’s Mining Promotion Fund (FFM), Abduremane Machon, said that the largest group of minerals to be auctioned off consists of 8.7 tonnes of rubies in various states.

These are not all gem rubies, however – if they were, their value would run into the billions of dollars. A good quality ruby can fetch over 5,000 dollars per carat. A carat is 200 milligrams, or a fifth of a gram. 8.7 tonnes of good quality rubies could therefore sell for 217.5 billion dollars.

The highest price ever paid for a ruby was 425,000 dollars per carat by a London jeweler in 2006.

It seems reasonable to assume that the stones to be auctioned in Maputo later this month are not of that quality and, to account for the weight, must still be encased in the surrounding rock.

Also on the auction block are 498.4 kilos of tourmaline, 359.2 kilos of garnets, 321.8 kilos of emeralds, 66 kilos of aquamarines and beryl, and 232.5 kilos of roseate quartz. Again, if these are all good quality gems, removed from the surrounding rock, they would fetch enormous prices.

Like rubies, good quality emeralds can sell for 5,000 dollars per carat, and top quality ones for much more. A good quality green tourmaline can cost up to 1,500 dollars per carat. Aquamarines are much cheaper, varying in price between five and 100 dollars per carat.

Machon said the minerals had been seized from illegal mining and trafficking operations over several years, mostly in the northern and central provinces.

To ensure greater transparency, the FFM has set up a commission to deal with the auction. People or institutions interested in buying the minerals should present their bids in a sealed envelope. The envelopes will be opened on 29 July.

Machon said the seizures are intended to discourage illicit mining, which costs the state large sums in lost revenue. The FFM is encouraging legitimate, licenses small scale mining, and the processing in Mozambique of precious and semi-precious stones.

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