Tons of gold, rubies and other precious stones are smuggled out of Mozambique every year. Justice is trying to prosecute smugglers and illegal miners, and particularly targets the officials of the mining company Gemfields, accused of being linked to this looting.
It took three years, since the start of the civil war in Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, to draw the attention of the international community to the dire humanitarian situation in the region. In the aftermath of the assault by the al-Shabaab terrorist group in the coastal province of Palma, the reality of the situation became apparent to the world. A spotlight that owes a lot to abandonment of gas project of the French major Total, which cost $ 20 billion.
If the presence of terrorist groups in the Mozambican region is beyond doubt, the state has not hesitated to politically exploit the situation. If Rwanda and the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had not intervened, the European Union (EU) would undoubtedly have deployed its own troops in the region.
The Mozambican state and its allies have regained control in this war against terrorism. And while gas projects have been halted, the activity of foreign mining companies has only flourished. The majors took advantage, according to the inhabitants of the region, of the media blackout. The state decided to investigate the legality of the massive exports of resources like gold, oil and rubies. On the dock, smugglers.
14 tons of gold and rubies
Indeed, Mozambique Supreme Court judge Rafael Sebastiao says he wants to "prosecute people implicated in smuggling crimes", even though there is, he said, "sometimes a lack of evidence to hold people back. involved in smuggling as responsible ”.
The current investigation has made it possible to place several villagers on the dock. A survey which is based, in large part, on a study dating from the beginning of November by the Swiss think-tank Global Initiative. However, this study openly accuses the displaced populations of all the crimes. In fact, however, it was a British company, Gemfields, which operated all the gold and ruby exports from northern Mozambique.
The numbers are staggering: 14 tons of gold, rubies and other precious stones have been exported from northern Mozambique since the start of 2021. So much so that Mozambican rubies this year represent 40% of total ruby exports in the world!
But while the mining sites are in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Manica, how come Gemfields' business has not suffered from a slowdown despite the war?
Gemfields in legality?
For one of the illegal minors being prosecuted, the displaced villagers act as scapegoats. "The rulers would not offer the country's riches to foreigners if they did not want their people to suffer," he told Sputnik media. "We exchange gold and rubies with the guards of the mining sites for food, we have no other choice", continues a young man from the region who adds that "that does not prevent them from us. brutalize and drive us out of our villages ”.
The insurgency of members of al-Shabaab - and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), if the Mozambican state is to be believed - has intensified in the Cabo Delgado region in Mozambique for several years. According to UN News, at least 730 people in Cabo Delgado have lost access to their land and have no means of earning a living due to the rebellion.
Today, with a majority of the northern regions freed from the yoke of insurgents and terrorists, these same displaced people find themselves in the crosshairs of justice. However, Gemfields, which benefited greatly from the war, does not seem worried about justice. On the side of the Mozambican Ministry of Mineral Resources, Gemfields would be "within its rights", enjoying an exclusive contract on the exports of several mineral resources to Mozambique.