London--Gemfields, whose emerald mining up to now has been limited to Zambia, is expanding into Colombia, which is known for producing some of the finest emeralds in the world.

The first new project Gemfields is acquiring involves the Coscuez emerald mine in the Boyacá state. Under the terms of the agreement, Esmeracol S.A. will transfer the Coscuez license to a new company called Coscuez NewCo. Gemfields will pay $15 million to acquire 70 percent of that company. 

The deal is expected to finish by March 2016, once the license transfer has taken place.

Located on the Muzo formation, the Coscuez license covers a 47-hectare (less than 1 square mile) area. The license includes rights for the exploration, construction and mining of emerald deposits with the historical Coscuez mine area.

The mine has been in operation for more than 25 years and has produced some of the country’s best emeralds, Gemfields said. Open-pit mining at Coscuez was replaced by small-scale underground mining in the upper reaches of the deposit in 1990.

Gemfields carried out preliminary geological studies at the site between October 2013 and August 2014, which included geological mapping of all accessible underground excavations and tunnels and analysis of samples. Gemfields said that further exploration needs to be done to allow for a development plan, which is expected to take somewhere between 18 to 24 months.

The second project includes licenses and contracts covering approximately 20,000 hectares (77 square miles) in the Boyacá state and other Colombian areas, comprising mostly undeveloped land but including some small-scale mining.

Gemfields will pay $7.5 million for a 75 percent and 70 percent interest in two Colombian companies that own the licenses and contracts.

Eight assignments have been approved and issued already; the remaining are being reviewed by the Colombian Mining Agency.

Gemfields also owns 75 percent of the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia, as well as a 75 percent interest in the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique and a 50 percent interest in the Kariba amethyst mine in Zambia.

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