As of 2015, Richland is establishing the Capricorn Sapphire brand as a new hub for ethically mined blue and fancy coloured sapphire from Queensland Australia.
The first stage of this initiative has been fulfilled through commissioning of the Capricorn Sapphire mine project which is located near the town of Sapphire in Central Queensland, Australia, and mining commenced in Apr 14, 2015.
The mine lies within the well-known Queensland Sapphire Gemfields, a region that has historically been one of the biggest sapphire fields in the world, but has seen little development in terms of of modern gemstone mining practices.
During the first quarter of 2015 Richland re-commissioned a purpose-built alluvial sapphire processing plant capable of treating 200 LCM per hour. The plant processes mined material from a JORC (2004) Measured Sapphire Resource of approximately 21.6 million grams (109million carats) of sapphires. The current resource is calculated based on previous exploration and mining conducted on the licences.
The project consists of two mining leases (ML 70419 and ML70447) comprising about 490 hectares of potential sapphire-rich alluvial placers within this known gem field.
The deposit contains large quantities of blue-coloured sapphires and has also produced yellow, green and parti-colour material which would be of interest for the growing fancy colour industry. While the Capricorn Sapphire resource does contain special large stones, Richland believes that the strength of the project is in supplying sapphires of verifiable origin in large quantities in the sizes, grades and colours used by the international jewellery market.
Sapphires make up a significant part of the global colour gemstone market with extraction remaining generally artisanal (and small scale), with a fractured supply market. This variable, and in some instances declining production (in the major production areas of the world), has led to inconsistent supply channels.
Richland believes that the Chinese market demand for sapphire is increasing beyond their own domestic supply and, furthermore, that the US jewellery and gemstone market continues to strengthen and recover since 2013. Single-origin supply of commercial colours and quantities of sapphire are difficult to find, due to blending in the wholesale and polishing markets. Richland has the expertise to apply first-rate mining practices to a proven sapphire resource and create a platform to supply consistent quantities of source-assured, ethical gemstones to major international buyers for mine-to-market assured supply chains.