Gemfields taps former De Beers CEO as new board chairperson

Bruce Cleaver. Picture: Supplied

Bruce Cleaver. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 12, 2024


Former De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver is the new board chairperson for JSE-listed emeralds and rubies British mining firm, Gemfields Group.

With operations in Zambia and Mozambique, Gemfields has made new changes to its board of directors.

It announced yesterday that Cleaver will be taking over as board chairperson and also announced the appointment of two other new non-executive directors.

Cleaver will take over from Martin Tolcher effective next month.

The former co-chairperson and CEO of De Beers will also chair the Gemfields board’s nomination committee, the company said.

“Bruce’s reputation as a pre-eminent leader is well documented and he brings considerable experience of mining gemstones in Africa and marketing them internationally,” said Gemfields.

Cleaver described Gemfields as a “unique and extraordinary business” that had “taken a fragmented and fairly informal industry to considerable sophistication as the first consistent supplier of significant quantities” of coloured gemstones.

“The parallels with De Beers’ origins and how consistent and reliable supply can deliver remarkable industry growth and positive contributions to communities, are clear to all,” Cleaver said.

“The coloured gemstone market has long transcended the arrival of their lab-grown counterparts, with lab-grown rubies having been around for more than 120 years,” said Cleaver.

He added that he was excited to be taking on the role of board chairperson for Gemfields. He will focus on preparing Gemfields for its next stage of growth, which includes the construction of a new processing plant that will triple throughput capacity at its large ruby mine.

Completion of the plant is “on schedule” for commissioning next year.

Earlier this month, Gemfields said it had bagged $35 million (R657m) from a gemstone auction conducted for the period May 13 to May 30 at an average price of $167.51 per carat.

The company is looking forward to its forthcoming mixed-quality ruby auction this month as well as to the next commercial quality emerald auction in September.

Gemfields has also announced the appointment of Simon Scott as an independent non-executive director.

He will sit on the company’s audit committee in addition to chairing the Gemfields risk council.

Scott was previously chief financial officer of Lonmin and is a non-executive director of First Quantum Minerals, as well as Sylvania Platinum.

Gemfields also appointed Kieran Daly as non-executive director. Daly is currently an alternate director to Patrick Sacco on the Gemfields board.

“Kieran has significant experience in mining across various geographies and commodities and holds board-level roles in other mining companies including at Atlantic Lithium Ltd,” said the company.

For 2023, Gemfields reported an 86% fall in pre-tax profits after cancellation of a high-quality emerald auction in November.

Revenues for the period dropped 23% to $262m, tipping the company into a post-tax loss of $2.8m for 2023 which sharply contrasted the group’s $74.3 million profit for 2022.

However, executives at the company are bullish about gemstone prices and markets going forward.