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15 january 2018

dev_shetty_xx.jpgA qualified Chartered Account, Dev Shetty heads Fura Gems Inc as President and CEO, who has recently developed world’s largest emerald mine in Zambia and world’s largest ruby mine in Mozambique. Dev started his career in India but moved to the UK in 2006; joined Pallinghurst Advisors LLP, a private equity firm which made him Gemfields Group CFO and executive director; and eventually, Dev was responsible for overall operation of Gemfields plc.

Dev's experience ranges from a project and operational management, strategic formulation, business turnaround, mergers and acquisition, budget and business plan formulation including the setting up fund structures in different jurisdictions and more.

In January 2017, Dev partnered with Forbes and Manhattan, a Canadian private merchant bank to incorporate, Fura Gems Inc, Toronto listed (FUR.V) gemstone mining and marketing company.

In an interview with Rough & Polished, Dev Shetty talks about his expansion plans through Fura...

Some excerpts:

Please brief us on Fura Gems Inc for the benefit of our readers, including details of the newly acquired emerald and ruby projects, funding of the projects in India, etc.

Fura Gems Inc. is a gemstone mining and marketing company which is engaged in the mining, exploration, and acquisition of gemstone licences. Group company of Forbes and Manhattan (“F&M”), Toronto based resource-focused private merchant banking group, Fura is headquartered in Toronto, Canada and its administrative headquarters is in the Almas Tower, Dubai. Fura is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker symbol “FURA”.

Fura has entered into a purchase agreement to enter the exploration and mining of rubies in Mozambique through the proposed acquisition of an 80% effective interest in the four ruby licences (4392, 3868, 3869 and 6811) and the submission of an application for an additional ruby licence. Fura recently announced the acquisition of the iconic emerald mine in Colombia, Coscuez. Fura is engaged in the exploration of resource properties in Colombia and owns a 100% interest in the emerald licence ECH -121.

What are Fura's plans in India and when exactly will it be launched? Besides coloured gemstones, will Fura be acquiring diamond mining projects as well?

Fura Gems Inc plans to pursue various gemstone mining projects in India and will market its global coloured gemstone portfolio in India. At this moment in time, we have a team of 4 people who are looking at various projects in 3 states in India. India has the potential to become a mining hub for various gemstones asset. India has good reserves of diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. In fact, the world-famous Kashmir sapphires come from India. The diamond project in Bunder is surely very interesting and would love to be associated with it provided it makes business sense.

We are in the process of setting up a marketing office in Mumbai, early next year, which will be responsible for consumer, trade education, research, advertising and brand building.

With the history of diamond mining projects being stalled due to environmental issues, how do you plan to begin operations in India?

It is way too early to comment. Once our team on the ground finishes their study, we will have a clear understanding of what projects to go for and what to avoid. Given the fact, both the government of India and the state government are actively looking at FDI in the mining industry, we are quite confident that if we do decide to mine in India, the government would support with the licences and other clearances. I must mention here that we at Fura have the highest regard for the environment in all the geographies that we mine in. We work in tandem with the local community and the government and ensure that there is complete regard for the countries environmental policies.

Are you looking at any JVs in the mining projects, both in coloured stone and diamond?

In most places where we mine, we do have local partners. I think we will do the same in India. Depending on the licences that we want to apply for, we might want to bring some local partners into the business. We are open for the JV’s with the like-minded people who support FURA’s vision for the development of the gemstone sector.

In the marketing scenario, what will be your contribution? Will you go solo or join the Indian trade members? Given that Indian industry has been handling marketing fairly well, what further steps will Fura be taking to strengthen the marketing initiatives?

Fura is a “mining and marketing company”, so for us, marketing is as important as mining. That said we are in a happy space. Colombian emeralds have remained one of the most aspired product in the world and we are certain that the aspiration will only grow over the period of time. With Fura marketing efforts, especially training both at the trade as well consumer level will further enhance the aspiration and demand for Colombian emeralds. Talk to a wealthy Indian lady today and the moment you say Colombian emeralds, they just drool. We will also be promoting both our product categories (Colombian emeralds and Mozambican rubies) through PR and social media promotion. Once we have our products in the marketplace we will build further demand through advertising and sponsorships. We have appointed Rupak Sen as Vice President, Marketing & Sales in early November 2017, who will be based in our administrative headquarters in Dubai and will be responsible for our global marketing platform. Fura will have a dedicated Marketing Manager for India based in Mumbai from early next year.  

How do you think your experience at Gemfields plc will help you in taking Fura to greater success?

The eight odd years in Gemfields gave me immense learnings. Prior to Gemfields, there was no organised player in the colour gemstone mining industry. So, a lot of the learnings were as an industry first. During my tenure in Gemfields, I and my team built the world’s largest emerald and ruby mine. Through our marketing platform, we were able to put Zambian emeralds and Mozambican ruby on a global arena. We are putting a lot of those learnings into place in Fura. At Fura our vision is ‘’as a progressive and imaginative company, we aim to set the new precedent for best practices in the gemstone industry by transforming current standards into the premiere example of employee-friendly, sustainability-driven, community-centered enterprise’’.

Aruna Gaitonde, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Bureau, Rough& Polished