Commercial production of sapphires has begun at a central Queensland mine.
Richland Resources has kicked off extraction of the precious gem at its Capricorn mine, with material going through an alluvial processing plant and sorting carried out at Emerald.
Sapphire recovery will be conducted as part of the ‘no touch’ mining process currently being developed.
Capricorn is capable of treating up to 200 loose cubic metres per hour and a staggered ramp up to full-scale production will occur over the next few months.
Richland expects its first sapphire sales in late June at the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair.
The mine is expected to be the largest sapphire mine in the world.