In September 2014, the gemologist Vincent Pardieu participated in the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA’s) field expedition (FE56) to visit Malawi’s largest known ruby and sapphire deposit in Chimwadzulu, which was discovered in 1958.
This deposit is one of the oldest known ruby and sapphire deposits in Africa but nevertheless it is not very well known from the public or even the gem trade.
Nyala Mines has been working on the deposit since 2008 and Columbia Gem House is in charge of processing, marketing and selling the stones, which include rubies and sapphires. According to the GIA report
In 2013, Malawian national Abdul Mahomed acquired 80% of the mining operation. According to Mahomed, the acquisition process is expected to be completed soon and the Malawi government and a local consortium will hold the remaining 20%. Since then, the mining operation has been renovated and the areas originally worked in 1958 have been further explored. Production is expected to begin in 2015. In an effort to support the local community, Columbia Gem House has set up the Dzonze District Development Fund and is supporting two villages near the mine through a school at Kandoma and a hospital in Katsekera.
GIA produced a 6-minute video of the field trip. Take a look at this below
Update February 2016: Further information about the mine and the terms of the agreement with government can be found in the Malawi Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Scoping Study.