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Insurgents behead two workers at Australian mining operation in Ancuabe

Insurgents in Ancuabe district beheaded two people at a graphite mine project yesterday, as the authorities tried to persuade locals that the area was safe to stay in

Insurgents invaded the site of Australian-owned graphite mining company Grafex, near the town of Ancuabe, on Wednesday, killing and beheading at least two workers. The mine site is 45km from the provincial capital, Pemba, and around 15km from the village of Silva Macua, where the governor of Cabo Delgado, Valige Taubo, was visiting that day to reassure civilians that it was safe to return to their homes.

A local source told Zitamar that insurgents attacked Grafex, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian-based Triton Minerals, on Wednesday afternoon. Two employees managed to escape to the village of Silva Macua after watching the beheading of another two workers.

On Thursday morning, a spokesperson for Triton Minerals told Zitamar: “We are aware of an incident and we are working with officials to investigate.”

Syrah Resources, another Australia-based graphite miner which operates a mining concession in Balama about 200km away, announced on 9 June that it “has received reports of an insurgent attack at a mine project site near Ancuabe” and that it is “suspending all personnel and logistics movements” along the road to Pemba until more information is available. Battery Minerals, another Australian mining junior with graphite projects in Montepuez and Balama, also said it had “received reports of an insurgent attack at a mine project site near Ancuabe.” It said it is “of the opinion that this event is not a Material Adverse Change under its agreement to sell its Mozambique assets, which is expected to complete by 29 July 2022.”

The Montepuez Ruby Mine, operated by Gemfields, is also located along the road between Ancuabe and Balama. Grafex’s project, which has yet to enter operation, is adjacent to another graphite mine, owned by Dutch-based commodities company AMG. The area is home to numerous other graphite, gemstone, and other mining projects. Metoro, another important junction on the main road in Ancuabe, is also home to a major new solar power plant.

Pinnacle News reported that two Grafex security guards were killed in the incident, and that one of those who escaped had only survived by telling the insurgents the shortcut to Ntutupue village, about 18km to the south, along the road towards Pemba. According to Pinnacle, the head of Silva Macua village went with two soldiers to the Grafex site and found two headless bodies hanging in the courtyard, before being surprised by insurgents from behind. They withdrew to the local police station and reported their experience.

Many have sought shelter in Silva Macua after fleeing from the attack in Nanduli three days earlier. Governor Taubo and the Provincial Executive Council visited the village on Wednesday to urge civilians to return home, going so far as to organise transportation for them. VOA reported that the governor dispatched six vehicles to transport dozens of civilians to villages so far unaffected by insurgent violence.

The governor was still in Silva Macua at the time of the attack on Wednesday, according to Zitamar’s local source.

On Thursday, an attack was reported close to Ntutupue, with one artisanal miner being beheaded in front of a colleague who was then instructed to return to the village and tell what had happened.

News article produced by Zitamar under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED and Mediafax. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.