Remember Gemfields? In 2017 we published a story by Estacio Valoi about the scandalous practices of British-Mozambican mining company MRM-Gemfields in Montepuez, Mozambique. The story later became part of a groundbreaking report by the African Investigative Publishing Collective (AIPC) and ZAM. ‘Rapes, robberies and deportations carried out by notorious police squad to keep the rubies for MRM-Gemfields alone’, we wrote. And: ‘The ruby fields of Montepuez in Mozambique, already a terrain of terror at the hands of security forces guarding the wealth to which UK-based gemstone giant MRM-Gemfields has the rights, are now violently being emptied of human beings. Hundreds of Mozambicans, foreigners, artisanal miners and random villagers, were told that their presence in the area is ‘illegal,’ have been forcibly removed, with rape, robberies and even murder by security forces as part of the process.’
The Mozambican politicians and generals, part owners of the venture, consistently refused to comment. The London-based headquarters of MRM-Gemfields sent in a lot of denials, which were reflected in the story. However, after publication, we were still accused of ‘gross distortions.' PR people and lawyers hired by the company threatened us with legal action and financial claims. We published the correspondence and companies’ amendments to the story but we stuck to the essence of it. There was simply no reason why we should let our colleague, investigative journalist Estacio Valoi, down. He had spoken truth to power.
In late January 2019, a settlement was reached between MRM Gemfields and lawyers acting for the Montepuez communities. In terms of the settlement the mining company agreed to pay close to 6 million Euros for claims of killing 18 people, severe beatings and house burnings in and around its mine in northeastern Mozambique.
This blog post has been updated to reflect the correction that instead of the compensation payment having been ruled by the London High Court, it was rather achieved in a settlement between the complainants and the company. Whilst technically correct, the earlier headline ("Mozambique | UK'S MRM-Gemfields will pay compensation for Killings and Beatings") was also adapted to avoid creating the wrong impression that MRM Gemfields was accepting accountability for killings and beatings.