Colombia, producer of the world’s largest emeralds, expects to boost export sales by about half this year as buyers in India spur a recovery in demand.
Exports of the gems mined mainly in the mountains of central Colombia will rise to about $120 million this year, from $80 million in 2009, Oscar Baquero, president of the nation’s Emerald Federation, said in an interview yesterday in Bogota.
“The market now is Asia,” he said from an office above downtown streets crowded with stores showcasing the gems. “They are getting rich quickly. They want things that show status.”
Asian economies are buying more Colombian gems, coal and oil, increasing exports from the South American nation while demand in traditional markets such as the U.S. falters. BHP Billiton Plc, Anglo American Plc and Xstrata Plc began exporting coal to China this year for the first time from Colombia’s Cerrejon, the world’s largest open-pit mine of coal for export.
India’s economy accelerated to 8.6 percent in the first quarter, from 6.5 percent in the prior three months, placing it among the fastest-growing economies of Asia.
Colombia produced 47 percent of the world’s emeralds in the decade to 2005, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The South American nation is still the top producer of the largest stones, Baquero said. Zambia probably has surpassed Colombia’s overall output, he said.
The Gachala emerald, found in 1967 in Colombia, is among the finest ever discovered and one of the world’s largest at 858 karats, according to the federation. (Heather Walsh / Bloomberg)