Rioters have attacked a tantalum mine in Mozambique owned by Canada’s Pacific Wildcat Resources, the company said, in violence that could hurt the image of a country hoping to attract investment in its mining and energy sectors.
Security staff were injured during the attack, while other staff were rushed to safety in Nampula, around 120 kilometres from the mine, the company said. Mozambican newspaper O Pais reported on Monday that the violence began on Nov. 9 when police shot dead an illegal miner.
“The Muiane mine site has been attacked and destroyed by local rioters,” the company said in a statement on Friday. “Police are not allowing access to the mine site due to bandits still occupying the area.”
A spokesman said the company had no further information.
Mozambique police spokesman Inacio Dina said they were aware of the incident but gave no further details.
Men armed with guns, machetes and pickaxes, who blamed the company for the shooting, looted the mine site and set buildings ablaze, O Pais said.
The report quoted Pacific Wildcat’s local director Chippy Shaik as saying $10 million of damage was caused by the attack.
Pacific Wildcat Resources said in August that it was selling the Muiane tantalum mine to Seychelles-based company Novak Holdings for $1,315 plus $250,000 cash to pay off debt.
Tantalum is used in the production of electronic equipment, including medical implants, mobile phones and computers.
Though Mozambique has been relatively stable since a 16-year civil war ended in 1992 there have been periods of violence between the ruling Frelimo party and its opponent Renamo.
Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, is hoping to attract billions of dollars of investment to expand its oil, gas and mining industries after making major minerals discoveries in recent years.
U.S. energy firm Anadarko and Italy’s Eni are close to making final decisions on gas projects that could bring in more than $30 billion in investment and make Mozambique one of the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporters.