Artisanal miners torched a car belonging to miner Gemfields’ Mozambique operation and attacked the occupants with pickaxes, injuring three employees and a security contractor, the company said.
Gemfields owns 75% of Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM), operating in northern Mozambique. The mine, considered to be the world’s largest deposit of rubies, is in a region rife with crime, illegal mining and home to a nascent Islamist insurgency.
The attack follows an incident earlier when 800 artisanal miners invaded a pit belonging to MRM, 11 of who died when the pit collapsed.
“MRM observed a dramatic and co0ordinated increase in artisanal miners entering MRM’s concession, including women and children,” the company’s statement said.
MRM says artisanal miners are exploited by illegal ruby smuggling syndicates and receive only a fraction of the market value of the rubies they obtain.
The latest attack seriously injured three MRM employees, while the security contractor sustained lighter injuries, MRM said.
Gemfields, which owns jewellery-maker Faberge, listed in London on February 14.