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Mob Invades Gemfields Site in Ethiopia

Jul 3, 2018 4:23 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... A mob of 300 to 500 people overran Gemfields Group’s emerald-exploration operations in Ethiopia on Friday, forcing staff members to flee.

Employees, contractors and service providers at Web Gemstone Mining (WGM) were safely evacuated to a town a two-hour drive away, the company reported Monday. Two WGM team members suffered minor injuries, with the gemstone producer expecting both of them to recover fully.

“While the motive of the mob remains unclear, it is believed that they may have been spurred by a faction seeking a portion of WGM’s license,” Gemfields said. The miner holds an emerald-exploration license covering 200 square kilometers, and began collecting bulk samples in August 2017.

Gemfields owns 75% of WGM, with the rest belonging to 50 individuals, either personally or through a cooperative of local people, mainly from the nearby village of Web. Gemfields acquired its stake in the business in February 2015.

Local authorities have safeguarded WGM’s residential camp and mine offices, as well as the site that WGM’s contractors used. The bulk-sampling operation has “yet to be secured,” the company noted Monday.

Ethiopia lifted a national state of emergency on June 5. It declared the measures in February after a wave of anti-government protests and the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Tags: emeralds, Ethiopia, exploration, Gemfields, Gemfields Group, Hailemariam Desalegn, Rapaport News, Web Gemstone Mining, WGM
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