Pallinghurst: Faberge jewelry, Platinum in 2009

Brian Gilbertson, chairman of Pallinghurst Resources, said the investment company may start platinum production and Faberge jewelry sales next year, Bloomberg News reports.

“The availability of new platinum production will fall substantially short of forecasts you see at the moment,” Gilbertson said in Johannesburg Wednesday, Bloomberg News reports.

Gilbertson, the former head of BHP Billiton Ltd., said Pallinghurst may start mining platinum in South Africa as early as the end of 2009, Bloomberg reports.

Pallinghurst has already raised almost $1 billion from investors including Korean steel company Posco and AMCI, an affiliate of American Metals & Coal International Inc., Bloomberg reports The company may seek additional funds at a later date, Gilbertson reportedly said, adding the current investors “are willing to contribute additional funds to the right projects.”

“We have two opportunities” in platinum, Gilbertson reportedly said. They could have “quite fundamental value if we play our cards right.” Gilbertson’s son Sean is a director of Pallinghurst.

Pallinghurst announced today that a platinum venture it will form with the Bakgatla community plans to acquire 25 percent of Boynton Investments Ltd., which has assets on South Africa’s platinum-rich Bushveld geological area northwest of Johannesburg, Bloomberg reports. The venture has also agreed to buy 40 percent of Richtrau No. 123 Ltd., in order to explore for the metal there.

Pallinghurst also plans to start producing manganese in South Africa in three years time, in partnership with the Ntsimbintle black investors group, Bloomberg reports. Gilbertson is looking to acquire more sources of steel-making ingredients, including iron ore and ferrochrome.

The company, which acquired the Faberge brand name from Unilever Plc last year, will have its first jewelry collection ready in the second quarter of 2009 and may offer Faberge-branded eyewear, handbags and watches later, Gilbertson reportedly said.

Mark Dunhill, the former President of Alfred Dunhill Ltd., was appointed CEO of Pallinghurst’s Faberge business last year.

Gilbertson plans to use gemstones including emeralds in Pallinghurst’s Faberge jewelry collection to help boost the “overlooked” gemstone industry and revive the Faberge brand. He is looking for more acquisitions in the gemstone industry after taking over Gemfields Resources Plc, which owns Africa’s biggest emerald mine, Kagem, in Zambia.

“Already, we are the largest company in color gemstones space,” Gilbertson reportedly said, adding Pallinghurst wants to be the “catalyst to start a consolidation process.”

Pallinghurst has invested in new equipment to boost production at Kagem to 120,000 tons of emerald-bearing rock by July 2009, up from 20,000 tons.