Several collapses at northern Mozambique’s Montepuez ruby mine operated by the UK-based natural resources firm Gemfields buried at least 11 illegal miners alive in only three days, local authorities said.
As a majority shareholder Gemfields is said to have own 75% of the mining company.
A spokesperson for Gemfields confirmed that approx. 800 artisanal miners entered Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM)’s Maninge Nice 3 mining pit last week.
MRM staff repeatedly released the warnings addressed to those who take the risk and enters the dangerous mine facilities at their own peril.
The reports indicate that these illegal miners were seeking ruby-bearing gems and began undercutting the outer edge of the mining pit. This led to several ground collapse incidents, killing 11 artisanal miners over three days.
MRM says the other miners continued digging despite the tunnel collapse, resulting in the death of two more miners following a second collapse.