Sunday, April 16, 2017

Mozambique ruby rush leads to gangland war

The stakes are high in Montepuez where the discovery of rubies has led to violence clashes. Discovery of the red gemstone in 2009 sparked a "ruby rush", with thousands of miners arriving to seek their fortunes. The rubies attract artisanal miners from Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria and other nations, whose work is illegal. Treating a dozen cases of injuries a month and the occasional death, the hospital finds itself on the front line of a turf war between gangs of illegal miners. A cohort of gem traffickers has also arrived to trade in the stones.
Producing nearly 40 percent of rubies sold on the world market last year, Mozambique has become one of the world's leading sources. The African ruby is now seen as an alternative to the highly prized Myanmar ruby.

One illegal miner told AFP: "They take people in cars and leave them far away, in the middle of the road, 100 kilometres away." Police dismiss the accusations, saying illegal immigrants are deported, while Mozambicans are sent back to their native provinces.