Mozambican authorities announced on 29 June 2020 that they have dismantled gemstone trafficking networks in Montepuez, in the province of Cabo Delgado, seizing just over four tonnes of various minerals including tourmaline, gold, corundum, quartzites and garnets, in addition to several grams of rubies.
The Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy’s Inspector General, Mr Obete Matine said:
“These crimes involve Mozambicans and foreigners: indicative of a close-knit gemstone trafficking network.”
The dismantling of the trafficking network brought together the police and the inspection department of the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy. The gemstones were seized in several residences and establishments in the municipality of Montepuez. According to Mr Matine, there were at least ten people involved, several of whom held expired personal documents and were in Mozambique illegally.
Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM), owned in a partnership between Gemfields and Mwiriti Limitada, operates in Cabo Delgado province. Intruders are commonplace on the licence area, and unsafe illegal mining practices have contributed to fatalities in the area despite active awareness programmes, signage and a communications drive to warn illegal miners of the dangers associated with this practice.
MRM welcomes the proactive approach by the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy. Extensive research previously conducted within the communities adjacent to the concession area uncovered a modern slavery network whereby vulnerable young people were becoming indebted to foreign traffickers and smuggling networks. The arising negative impact of an influx of illegal miners into local communities – not to mention the resulting loss of tax revenue to the government – damages the social fabric of local communities and prevents Mozambican citizens from benefiting from the true value of their gemstone resources.