Gemfields coloured gemstones company continues to proactive allay of human rights abuses claims in Mozambique, where the company mines rubies.
UK-based law firm Leigh Day has fileda claim in the High Court of England and Wales against Gemfields and its subsidiary, Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM), on behalf of 29 individuals living near the MRM ruby mining licence area in northern Mozambique.
Gemfields noted that a number of the allegations were a repeat of media coverage of 2015 and 2016 in South Africa, which had been ruled as “inaccurate, false and damaging” by the South African Press Ombudsman, who had ordered that an apology be issued.
The rebuttal further states that Gemfields the human rights training that MRM provided for employees, service providers, Mozambican police and government forces met the Voluntary Principles.
“In addition, MRM frequently hosted tours of its operations by international and local press, government officials, nongovernment bodies, gemstone researchers and customers seeking to assess practices at their source of supply,” said Sean Gilbertson, Gemfields Chief Executive Officer.
The claim, filed by Leigh Day, alleges that Gemfields and MRM are liable for human rights abuses that include the deaths and mistreatment of artisanal miners and the seizure of land without due process.
In many instances, the abuses, Gemfields stated, involved the Mozambican police and/or other Mozambican government forces, for which the claim sought to hold Gemfields and MRM liable.
Gemfields recognised that instances of violence had occurred on and off the MRM licence area, both before and after its arrival in Montepuez and that these had often been between rival groups of artisanal miners and their handlers competing for control of territory, or involving security forces, typically in preserving the safety and wellbeing of employees, service providers and members of the local community.
The company said should the claim be served, Gemfields and MRM would vigorously defend themselves against the claim, whether in the English courts or otherwise, the coloured gemstones company revealed, as part of its commitment to transparency as a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (Voluntary Principles), collaborative principles set by governments, extractive companies and nongovernmental organisations that encourage respect for human rights.
Gemfields stated that it was working with its legal advisers in England and Mozambique to examine the claim fully and to defend its reputation as a supplier of responsibly sourced coloured gemstones.
MRM is the registered holder of a ruby mining concession in the area of around 340 km2, with the wider Montepuez ruby-mineralised area exceeding 10 000 km2.
Gemfields has 75% of MRM and Mwriti, its Mozambican partner, 25%.
Together with other minority partners, Gemfields holds seven further licences in the Montepuez ruby-mineralised area, where MRM began operating in 2012.