Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, ravaged by an Islamist insurgency in recent years, is facing a new kind of battleground – a fight against resource exploitation without development. The authorities have begun cancelling unused mining licenses, aiming to clear the way for serious investment and responsible exploration.

According to a report in Friday’s edition of “Carta de Moçambique,” an independent Mozambican news outlet, hundreds of mining licenses have been revoked. Norte Luali, Director of the Provincial Infrastructure Service in Cabo Delgado, revealed that of the 595 mining titles issued in the province, at least 200 have been withdrawn due to inactivity.

This crackdown on idle licenses is a clear message from the government. Luali emphasizes that the cancellations aim to create opportunities for new companies with a genuine interest in developing the region’s mineral wealth. Cabo Delgado boasts a treasure trove of resources, including ruby deposits considered the world’s largest, alongside gold, tourmaline, and other precious stones.

However, the current reality paints a different picture. Despite the insurgency, there has been a surge in mining license requests, particularly for concessions, according to the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP) and the Rural Environment Observatory (OMR), both Mozambican anti-corruption NGOs. This trend, starting in 2021, raises concerns about potential profiteering rather than long-term development plans.


Further fueling these concerns is the alleged involvement of Raimundo Pachinuapa, a retired general and member of the ruling Frelimo party’s Political Commission. He is reported to hold the most mining licenses in Cabo Delgado and a significant stake (60%) in Mwiriti Mining Limitada. This company is a junior partner in Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM), which operates the world’s largest known ruby mine.

The move to revoke unused licenses is a crucial step towards ensuring that Cabo Delgado’s abundant resources translate into tangible benefits for the region. By prioritizing active investment and development over mere resource hoarding, Mozambique can chart a course for a more sustainable and equitable future for Cabo Delgado.

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