Johannesburg – London-listed ruby mining giant Gemfields said on Tuesday it has ceased operations at an exploration site in northern Mozambique’s restive Cabo Delgado province following an insurgent attack in the area.
The precious gem miner said it has started evacuating employees and contractors from the Nairoto Resources Limitada (NRL) exploration camp, in which it holds a 75 percent stake.
The camp lies 15 kilometres northeast of Nairoto, a village that came under attack on Sunday night, the firm said in a statement.
“NRL has initiated the process of evacuating operational employees and contractors, and therefore operations at the site have ceased,” the statement said.
Gemfields said it was “in regular contact with government authorities”.
The company said operations at its flagship ruby mine in Montepuez, some 80 kilometres south of Nairoto, have not been affected.
Another Islamic State-affiliate attack in Mozambique: Gemfields evacuated personnel from an operation in the northern Cabo Delgado province. There was another attack on Sunday, about 15km southwest of exploration camp of Nairoto Resources Limitada, 75% owned by Gemfields.
— Lisle Daverin Blyth (@lisledaverin) February 14, 2023
Islamic State-linked militants launched an insurgency in Mozambique’s gas-rich Cabo Delgado province in 2017.
A regional military mission deployed in 2021 has restored a sense of security, pushing militants from some of their traditional turf.
But sporadic and low-level jihadists attacks continue in part of the province.
In October last year, Gemfields was forced to suspend works at the Montepuez mine after an assault on a neighbouring facility belonging to India-headquartered Gemrock.
The company says Montepuez is one of the most significant recently discovered ruby deposits in the world.
The conflict in northern Mozambique has claimed more than 4 500 lives, 2 000 of them civilians, and forced around a million people to flee their homes.
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