About 800 artisanal miners at MRM
The Company announces that the Maninge Nice 3 mining pit belonging to Montepuez Ruby Mining Limitada (MRM) has experienced a coordinated incursion by approximately 800 artisanal miners, vastly outnumbering the MRM security personnel and Mozambican police present at that location at the time.
These artisanal miners were seeking ruby-bearing gravels and, despite repeated warnings from MRM personnel, commenced undercutting the outer edge of the mining pit. This led to several ground collapse incidents in which 11 artisanal miners died. MRM personnel provided humanitarian assistance where possible.
In addition to notifying the authorities, Gemfields invited members of the Mozambican press and media to visit MRM and its surrounding villages to provide first-hand coverage of the activity and to report on the strikingly coordinated nature of the influx and its possible causes.
In a subsequent press conference held by the Inspector General of the Ministry of Minerals, Resources and Energy (MIREM), the involvement of organised networks in ruby smuggling was noted. Mozambican newspaper articles have since cited artisanal miners who claim to have made payments to factions within the Mozambican police in order to gain access to MRM.
Greater presence of the media and of Mozambican authorities at the mine and in surrounding areas and villages has resulted in MRM’s mining pits, including Maninge Nice 3, presently being clear of artisanal miners and as such day-to-day operations remain unaffected.
The Company continues to work closely with Mozambican authorities to raise awareness among local communities of the dangers of artisanal mining and to assist in tackling ruby smuggling and reduce the risk to, and exploitation of, vulnerable groups by well-organised syndicates.
MRM has a series of different mining pits which are variously activated depending on operating conditions and the ore types required. MRM has not been mining Maninge Nice 3 for some months. The pit, which generally contains smaller, flatter, pink-coloured rubies of lower value, accounts for less than 10% of the total ruby value sold by MRM to date.