Mozambique has a long history of mining across the country, some of it world famous for its geology, some of it famously controversial, with widespread reports of diamond smuggling through Zimbabwan borders reported in 2012 and recent violent activities surrounding the control of illegal gemstones reported.
What does this lively and welcoming jurisdiction have to offer in terms of professional exploration, mining and investment in 2018?
In 2006, Mozambique’s share of the world’s tantalum mine output amounted to 6%; beryllium, 5%; and aluminium, 2%, with 50% of the country’s manufacturing output surrounding the Mozal smelter. According to the Portuguese Investment Bank Mozambique also has the world’s 4th largest reserves of natural gas. The same BPI report stated that a lack of skilled labour was the biggest inhibitor to national growth in 2011, but this is all change with advancement of training programs and an influx of skilled miners and engineers from South Africa and across the continent. Mozambique is, once again, open for business.
This month Mozambique’s Instituto Nacional de Minas (INAMI) has opened up tenders for a significant expansion of the country’s formal mining industry. Concessions are being offered across the country for Coal, Gold, Industrial Phosphate and Rubies, we met Sergio Sefane from INAMI at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town to discuss the country’s plans for expansion in these four key areas.
Gold mining tenders are being offered in the Manica Greenstone Belt on the Zimbabwan border. Six companies have previously operated at the A3MMTC licence area, with historical production results between 5.3-12.4 g/t Au. The greenstone belt developed along the Sandawana line, a transcrustal Archean shear zone. The lode gold is concentrated in veins and along brittle-ductile shear structures and other second-order faults, but deposits of economic significance are few and far between in lode form. Nearby primary gold from banded iron formations is thought to have been redistributed during early (2700-2800ma) metamorphism and can be seen as authigenic native blebs and as inclusions in pyrite, arsenopyrite and pyrrhotite, This authigenic BIF gold is found in large placer deposits across the Manica district, currently mined widely in artisinal camps.
- The Odzi district (61 mines) has yielded 3.5t Au from eroded higher-level rocks of lower metamorphic facies.
- The Mutare district (133 mines, nine placer deposits) amounts to 68t to date (of which 65t has come from Rezende and adjacent deposits)
- The Manica district (23 mines, eight placer deposits) has produced 12t
- The estimated reserves of lode gold for the Rezende area are 20t and for the Manica district 4t.
- The reserves of placer gold in the Manica district amount to 19t.
Amongst the regular commodities tendered is one that Mozambique has a limited history of exploiting for international markets, long overdue for an update. Between Balanca and Namialo and near the port town of Nacala, the INAMI are tendering a significant advanced phosphate fertiliser project with seven Vale Mozambique reports from the region already compiled between 2001 & 2014 when the company abandoned the site. With over 30,000m of drilling already completed, geological sections compiled and a proven resource of 909 million tonnes at 7.54% phosphorous pentoxide, this one is worth a look. Significant information is available on this licence through INAMI for interested parties.
Coal has been a major source of energy in Mozambique for many years with the Northern Tete Province described as the world’s biggest coal play by the International resource Journal in 2013. Vale Mozambique has advanced significant deposits in the Moatize basin, with a projected production of 22 million tons per year. This however was hampered by the slow development of port facilities and rail networks in the region (due to be completed in 2009, but still in progress). Only 2.6 million tons was transported from the mine leaving millions of tons in vast stockpiles (see image below). similar stories are common across the Rio Tinto Benga and Nippon steel Revuboe projects in the basin.
The current play offered to tender sits on the banks of Lake Malawi near Maniamba and has been explored by DNGM and JOGMEC and Vale Mozambique, as well as INAMI with 2091m of drilling and 1171 million tons (71mt measured, 313mt indicated, 787mt inferred) in the ground. Its value will rely entirely on progression of facilities to export the coal, as regional markets are small.
Ruby mining is perhaps the most controversial field in Mozambique to investigate. Dominated by artisinal works with poor conditions and illegal exports, the industry is in desperate need of formalisation and control, for the protection of the surrounding environments, the people and the futures of the producing placer deposits. Following a 2015 exploration report by SRK consulting the current mining concessions are being extended east from currently producing areas.
One of the most impressive parts of Mozambique’s recent expansion has not been on the ground, but online, with the launch of their online tendering portal. This was designed to make the full tendering process more transparent for companies and also more accessible for the people of Mozambique, who can see what and where the government are planning to mine and explore. It’s worth a look HERE. Full details of all available mining tenders are advertised through the INAMI web service and, at the very least its interesting to see the regions open and the criteria used to build the concession maps.
Its hard to say if its time for Mozambique to shine, if the country is ready for new mining and if the infrastructure needed will ever arrive. I personally think its worth having keys in the bowl just in case. The upgrades to the country’s ports and transport network could (as is always the case across Africa) appear quite suddenly, tomorrow, next week, in 2025 or not at all. they have been paid for after all and some progress was reported in 2013…
Concessions offered now at a budget would obviously skyrocket in value if they became realistic ventures but some of these wilder concessions have had a good go in the past and ended up losing $3/ton on their projects. Unfortunately for those of us trying to standardise and modernise the industry, the most lucrative market seems to be in illegal artisinal production of gold and gemstones and this will be difficult to turnaround in the short term.
Further significant private investment raises more questions similar to those being asked in the DRC right now about private ownership of public services. How should a country be run if external organisations build and own more infrastructure than the government and what happens if the people and the government then try to reclaim that investment? Can we build hi-tech facilities in a low-tech world?
Have I asked more questions than I’ve answered? Probably.
Liam Hardy Reporting on ‘New Horizons’ for MiningIR.com
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