Pallinghurst says an emerald mine it is developing in Ethiopia, Web Gemstone Mining (WGM), has been taken over by what it describes as a mob of between 300 and 500 people.

Pallinghurst is in the process of renaming itself Gemfields, and its JSE sharecode will change to GML from PGL on July 11.

"Two members of the WGM team suffered minor injuries at the hands of the mob and are expected to make full recoveries," Pallinghurst said on Monday morning.

"Employees, contractors and service providers at the mine were safely evacuated to a town some two hours away by road."

Pallinghurst owns 75% of the mine via its subsidiary Gemfields, which acquired it in February 2015.

"While the motive of the mob remains unclear, it is believed that they may have been spurred by a faction seeking a portion of its licence," Pallinghurst said on Monday

Pallinghurst’s share price fell 3.6% to R2.41 following the announcement.

WGM holds an emerald exploration licence with a total concession area of 200km² with 27km of potential emerald-mineralised strike length. WGM first established its operations on site in June 2015 and has to date been conducting exploration and core-drilling, with bulk-sampling operations commencing in August 2017.