Coloured gemstone miner Gemfields has agreed to pay £5.8 million ($7.8 million) to settle claims of human rights abuses brought against it by members of the community living near its Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique. The settlement is on a “no admission of liability” basis.
Local community members, represented by British law firm Leigh Day, had alleged that Gemfields security forces had shot, beaten and subjected people to humiliating treatment and sexual abuse.
Over and above the settlement, Gemfields is setting up an independent grievance mechanism to allow local community members to file complaints more easily. It is also creating a £500,000 ($659,000) agricultural development and training fund for the community.
Gemfields last year acknowledged that there had been violent incidents in and around the mining licence area both before and after the company assumed operations at Montepuez. Gemfields has continued to maintain that it was not liable for these incidents, but said that the settlement balanced the interests of the community and the company and prevented the relationship between the two turning toxic.
Gemfields CEO Sean Gilbertson commented that the company wanted to be seen as trusted and transparent partners and not as legal adversaries.