An unknown armed group attacked on Wednesday night, 19 October, the facilities of a ruby mining company in southern Cabo Delgado, and led to the evacuation of another, authorities and companies announced.
The target was the Gemrock company in Namanhumbir, in Montepuez district, with the destruction of houses and vehicles, with no indication of any victims, said the local police cited by Mozambican television station Televisão de Moçambique (TVM).
The facilities are 12 kilometres from another company, Montepuez Rubi Mining (MRM), owned by multinational Gemfields, which, in a statement, announced the evacuation of the site and suspension of activities.
“An attack attributed to insurgent activity was reported at the nearby ruby mine belonging to Gemrock,” it said, adding that “the details of the attack are being verified.”
“As a consequence, MRM has commenced the process of evacuating operational employees and contractors and therefore mining operations at the site have ceased,” the document read.
The UK government portal (where Gemfields is based) has issued an alert in the dedicated travel area recommending avoiding the Montepuez area in northern Mozambique.
The Mozambican authorities have yet to comment on the situation.
Other mining companies have been affected over the past five months.
If the link to the armed insurgency (which has been affecting the north of the country for five years) is confirmed, this will be the latest incident in an expansion of attacks southwards as a military offensive moves violence away from gas projects.
However, the population and authorities have also detained residents organising under cover of the insurgency to carry out robberies in the region.
In one way or another, since June, the southern strip of Mozambique, bordered by the Lúrio river, has lost the tranquillity that turned it into a reception area for displaced people from the war.
Five months ago, unknown men with guns killed two security guards from the Grafex mining company, which exploits graffiti in the Ancuabe district. The incident prompted another graphite mining company, Australia’s Syrah, which operates in Balama, Montepuez, to suspend logistical operations – which would resume two weeks later.
The conflict has left one million people displaced, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and around 4,000 dead, according to the ACLED conflict registration project.