A mob of between 300 and 500 people have overrun the operations of Ethiopian exploration firm Web Gemstone Mining (WGM), in which resources investment firm Gemfields has a 75% stake.
The motive of the mob is unclear, but it is believed that they may have been spurred by a faction seeking a portion of WGM’s licence, JSE-listed Pallinghurst, which will be known as Gemfields from July 11, said on Monday.
WGM holds an emerald exploration licence with a total concession area of 200 km2, with 27 km of potential emerald-mineralised strike length. WGM has been conducting exploration and core-drilling since 2015, with bulk sampling operations due to start in August.
WGM’s employees, contractors and service providers were reportedly safely evacuated to a town about two hours away. However, two members of the WGM team suffered minor injuries at the hands of the mob and are expected to make full recoveries.
WGM is liaising with local and national authorities, which have in the meantime secured WGM’s residential camp and mine offices, as well as the camp used by WGM’s contractors.