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Gemfields site in Ethiopia attacked, emeralds looted
In June, a mob (estimated at between 300 and 500 persons) invaded the site, hurting two staff members and forcing an evacuation.
By: Diamond World News Service
Aug 16 2018 5:49PM
Reference: 16582  


Gemfields said that the emerald bulk‐sampling operations of Web Gemstone Mining plc (“WGM”), an Ethiopian company in which Gemfields holds a 75 per cent interest, were overrun by a mob (estimated between 300 and 500 persons) on 29 June 2018.

WGM’s  employees,  contractors  and  service  providers  were  safely  evacuated  on  the  same  day,  with two members of the WGM team suffering minor injuries at the hands of the mob, both of whom have since made full recoveries.

In another incident that occurred on 31st July 2018, the company said that the gemstone sort‐house, constructed using 40‐foot shipping containers, was breached (with several of the perpetrators sustaining injuries arising from the methods deployed in breaching the structure); the safe within the sort‐house has been compromised and the emeralds contained in it looted; the equipment and instruments in the sort house have been looted; WGM's residential camp has been ransacked; and the police present on the site sought to resist these developments, but were overwhelmed and have since abandoned the site. 

The company statement further said that the site has seen a significant influx of firearm-bearing illegal miners and handlers. WGM continues to liaise with local and national authorities.

Gemfields acquired its stake in WGM in February 2015. WGM holds an emerald exploration licence with a total concession area  of  200km  with  27 Kms of  potential  emerald‐mineralised  strike  length. WGM first established its operations on site in June 2015 and has to date been conducting exploration and core‐drilling, with bulk‐sampling operations commencing in August 2017. 

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