The saga of Selemane Assane, Ruby Mining’s “forefather”

By CJI Between the 10th and the 14th of December passed, Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM) – bearer of a 33 thousand hectares operation concession in


Between the 10th and the 14th of December passed, Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM) – bearer of a 33 thousand hectares operation concession in the recognized biggest ruby reserve in the world – carried its 13th ruby auction in Singapore.

The figures – US$ 71.5 million, resulting from the ruby auction would reflect in the company’s accounts, which belongs 75% to Gemfields and 25% to the Mozambican Mwiriti, Lda, which is in turn controlled by Raimundo Pachinuapa, a veteran general of the Mozambican Liberation party, Frelimo. The same general has recently been associated with building in a prohibited area (see here)

In a statement MNR made to announce the auction results, the announcement was made that, “of the 104 available lots, 91 were sold” [88%]. It added that, “The consistency of the offers and Gemfields’ classification system reliability continues to be well received by the buyers.”

The Investigative Journalism Centre, in its journey to the Montepuez District, found Selemane Assane, the man that discovered the rubies and tells his story.

Selemane Assane, the man that discovered MRM’s mine is behind bars

His name is Selemane. Years ago he discovered one of the areas containing high amounts of the precious rubies. Although all seemed to indicate that his life would now “fly through new skies”, ‘destiny’ or men wished it otherwise. Selemane, according to Montepuez’s residents we met, was arrested and condemned to 6 months in prison. This after all of MRM’s promises never came to light.

It is common knowledge that, “He is the one that discovered the Ruby Mining mine in Namanhumbir. But at the time of his discovery, what ‘Ruby’ did… it appears he built a little house for himself. They call it a chicken house, it’s nothing… that’s what they did for him. Apparently they gave him a job, but nothing much, and after a short period they removed him, accusing him of several things. Because he doesn’t have means of survival, he lives from prospection, he invaded the mine about 3 months ago. They found him, him and 2 friends; they let the 2 friends go and arrested him. Now they are charging him a 44 thousand Meticais bail. He doesn’t work, he lives from prospection, has wife and children (…)”, told us one of the sources.

Our source also added that, “Because he is known inside – since then he has been followed and now he appears  on radio and television, to understand if he had the right to a compensation, and   in the middle of this situation,  having him as mine invader … things got mixed up… because the radio and television keep coming here, wanting to find out about him.”

“Selemane is the one who discovered the mine, because for them to know that this mineral is there, it was because of him. So we saw, in some meetings, being said to him by the mine’s people – Mtwiri – that they would give him some support. And we thought that, him being the person that found the mine, the company would support him, have some respect for him. But he lives poorly, miserably… and some days or almost a month again he was caught digging in the mine and so condemned to 6 months in prison,” another source explained.

The source added that in his opinion, “The company should have given him something or a respectable life (…) he should’ve been a partner. But because he doesn’t have a pen and doesn’t understand anything, he is not a partner, he is nothing. But they should at least give him a job (…) He was working but they took him out because he stole. But there was no disciplinary process, or at least that we know about. It was promised. I know people that say that they promised to take him overseas to learn the job.”

The source mentioned that he knows Selemane and that he gets insanity attacks. He will take his clothes off, go around naked. I can’t see him getting 6-8 months in prison. A process has been opened and processed and they said he must pay a fine of 44,288 Meticais, (notice number 321/CD/PRM-Montepuez) and no one knows where he will get the resources to pay that amount.

According to the people we spoke, a group of human right activists and family members tried to ‘knock on the doors’ in several entities to ask for help, but all resulted in disappointment.

The position of Montepuez Ruby Minning (MRM) on Selemane Assane’s case

In face of the information gathered, CJI contacted MRM, in order to ascertain the veracity of the facts. The answer is transcribed in its integrity below.

What happened with the promises made to the citizen in question at the time of establishment of MRM?

Besides the support given as mentioned in the questions bellow, Mwiriti  (shareholder of MRM in 25%) built a house for Mr Selemane.

The question about training overseas promised to the citizen Selemane Assane and the model of the house that MRM would have built, is it the same where the mentioned citizen and his family currently live?

Mr Selemane was hired in 2015 by Mwiriti and ceased his functions at the end of 2019 after stealing 2 cheques, falsifying signatures and deviating about 50 thousand Meticais. Still in Mwiriti, Selemane was transferred to Pemba and registered in the national system of education to continue his studies. Additionally, he benefitted of IT training at CPRD in Pemba; he benefitted of an English course level 4 in the Language Institute in Pemba; and a training in Gemmology in Mauritius.

What has MRM been doing in concrete to valorise the human rights and create basic conditions in the life of the citizen in question?

It’s important to mention that the Mineral Resources belong to the Mozambican State. Montepuez Ruby Mining obtained temporary license that obliges it to utilise the resources in a sustainable way. The company pays its taxes, has been supporting the surrounding communities with social responsibility projects in key development areas such as income, health and education.

Is there a plan in concrete to resolve the issue existing between MRM and Selemane Assane? For when? What are the steps taken? Has there been contacts already?

At the end of 2019, two meetings were held with Mr Selemane at MRM’s offices in Namanhumbir, where Montepuez Ruby Mining made itself available to assist in in the development of an activity that could generate income. The company requested that Mr Selemane presented proposals and ideas for a project that he felt comfortable with. He presented agriculture has solution! This matter was taken to the company’s Department of Community Involvement, which disclosed to support him and Mr Selemane changed his mind (He didn’t want to go for agriculture anymore).

It was with great consternation, that in January of the current year, the company was informed by the security department, that Mr Selemane was detained inside the concession of Montepuez Ruby Mining prospecting illegally. We can only add that this citizen is being sought by the Provincial authorities.

Montepuez’s geography

Montepuez District is located in Cabo Delgado Province, with its headquarters in a small city with the same name. It is limited in the North by Mueda District, on the West by the Districts of Marrupa and Mecula of Niassa Province, on the South by the Districts of Balama, Namuno e Chiúre, and in the East by the Districts of Meluco and Ancuabe. In surface, with an area of 15,871 km2, Montepuez is the biggest district of Cabo Delgado