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Gemrock prepares to reopen ruby mine following October attack

The Gemrock ruby mine in Cabo Delgado is aiming to restart operations this month with reinforced security from government forces

The Indian-owned Gemrock ruby mine in Cabo Delgado province is aiming to restart operations this month following an insurgent attack last October that destroyed much of the site’s equipment and infrastructure.

“We will be restarting. We don’t have a date yet but sometime this month we might start mobilising,” Gemrock’s general manager, Mark Blessing Jamo, told Zitamar on Thursday.

Physical barriers, such as fencing and bollards, still need to be erected and contractor Tayanna, whose camp was burned in the attack, has repairs to complete, said Blessing.

There are currently no operational staff on site but the government has provided security from the military and the police to guard Gemrock and neighbouring mines in Ancuabe and Montepuez districts, according to Blessing.

The attack on 20 October saw about 20 insurgents assault the site in a dawn raid armed with AK-47s and mortars. All personnel were evacuated, leaving the insurgents to occupy the mine for about half an hour. At least a dozen trucks, tankers and diggers were burned, as well as accommodation and other infrastructure, mainly belonging to Tayanna.

Gemrock immediately suspended all operations following the attack and issued a statement calling on the government to provide military support so that it can resume its operations.

“While Gemrock is doing its best to work closely to find a best way to resume its operations, without critical Government support the entire Mozambique ruby industry remains at risk,” the company warned. It said it had invested over MZN 2 billion ($31.5m) in the project “and was on the cusp of expanding its operations. However, these plans have now been on the back burner,” the October statement said.

But this week Blessing told Zitamar that Gemrock is now “quite satisfied with what is there” in terms of government security.

On 31 January, Australia-based Triton Minerals, whose Grafex mine in Ancuabe was also attacked by insurgents in June, announced it would proceed with the development of its project which has now satisfied due diligence requirements. Triton praised “the recent actions carried out by the government of Mozambique and its regional and international partners” which have brought about an “improvement in the security status and stability in the Cabo Delgado province.”

Rwandan military and police forces have bolstered security in Ancuabe district since December, protecting the strategic highway which connects the mining projects of Ancuabe, Montepuez and Balama to the port of Pemba.