Multinational Gemrock has announced the resumption of ruby mining activities in Cabo Delgado, almost seven months after attacks on the company’s mining facilities, the management said.
“We are very grateful for the support the government has provided to increase security,” Gemrock founder Ian Charles Hannam said as he announced the return to work at a press conference in Pemba on Wednesday.
“We have been given defence and security forces to increase security in the area, and we as a company will also increase that security,” Hannam said, explaining the use of drones, dog guards and other electronic means.
All the security will also cover the villages where the workers live, he added.
“I was here for a week, and I believe it is safe for us to re-open,” added Colin John Andrews, Gemrock’s operations director, before returning to London.
After seven months, Hannam said there had been “huge losses” with the company down and no income “to be able to pay the staff” – about 500 – noting that the main victim was “the local economy”.
However, safety is paramount: “Equipment can be replaced, but people’s lives cannot”, he said.
“We want to help Mozambique to develop and the people of the region to make money and be prosperous. All we want the government to do is give us working space and security, it’s simple,” he concluded.
Gemrock is one of the companies that exploit rubies and graphite in the southern strip of Cabo Delgado, bordering Nampula province, which until 2022 was free of armed attacks that affected the far northeast, in Palma and Mocímboa da Praia, near the gas projects.
With the military reinforcement in the northeast, the violence moved southwards.
Mining companies had to evacuate facilities and suspend activities several times due to attacks in or around their spaces in 2022, but security has improved, and activity has resumed.
This armed insurgency that Cabo Delgado has been facing for five years has relied on some attacks claimed by the extremist group Islamic State.
The conflict has made one million displaced people, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and about 4,000 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project.