Mozambique: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

Mozambique is located in South-eastern Africa, and borders the Mozambique Channel between Tanzania and South Africa. The country covers a total area of 799,380 km2, and its total population is 23,515,934 as per 2012 reports. The climatic conditions in the country vary from tropical to subtropical.

The national flag of Mozambique.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook

The country has vast reserves of graphite, tantalum, natural gas, titanium and coal. It was one among the world's poorest countries until its independence in 1975. Severe drought, prolonged civil war and economic dependence on South Africa considerably slowed down the development of the country. However, the government introduced several macroeconomic reforms in 1987 to increase the country's growth rate by 9% a year until 2007. The country's reliance on aluminum exports lowered the GDP growth of the country when the aluminum prices declined during the global economic crisis. The government later implemented decreased tarrifs and tax rates, fiscal policies and subsidies to achieve a growth rate of 7.2% in 2011.

Overview of Resources

Mozambique has significant amount of natural resources such as zircon, tantalum, ilmenite, coal, rutile, limestone, tourmaline, beryl and aluminium. Other key commodities include natural gas and cement.

The major mineral resources produced in the country as per 2010 reports are:

  • Tantalum, accounting for 16% of global production
  • Ilmenite, 6% of global production
  • Zircon, 3% of global production
  • Aluminum and beryl, each 1% of global production

In 2010, the aluminium produced in the country accounted for 50% of the country’s total export, natural gas accounted for 6%, and ilmenite accounted for 4%.

The production of bauxite in 2010 increased by 205%, rutile by 161%, coal by 93%, zircon by 76%, limestone by 58%, ilmenite by 44% and natural gas by 11%.

Metals

Mozambique is Africa’s second largest producer of aluminium. In 2010, the Mozal aluminum smelter produced 557,000 metric tons (Mt) of alumina imported from Western Australia, compared with 545,000 Mt of alumina in 2009. The total value of aluminum exports in 2010 was $1.16 billion, compared to $868 million in 2009.

Tsoza Refinaria de Ouro de Mocambique started gold production in 2010 in Manica Province, which was the country’s first gold refinery. The production capacity of the refinery is 11,000 kg/yr of gold. Pan African Resources plc of UK is another company that has invested in mining about 2,600 kg/yr of gold at the Manica project.

Baobab estimated 25.3% of inferred resources of iron, 9.69% of titanium dioxide and 0.18% of vanadium pentoxide in Tete Province.

The map of Mozambique. Image Credit: CIA Factbook

Industrial Minerals and Gemstones

Cimentos de Mocambique SARL produces cement at its Nacala, Matola and Dondo plants with a total capacity of nearly 1.04 Mt/yr. The production capacities of Dondo and Nacala plants are 190,000 and 350,000 t/yr, respectively.

In 2010, Globe Metals & Mining Ltd. of Australia started exploring the Mount Muambe fluorite deposit and reported the presence of heavy rare-earths in the deposit.

Xiluvo mine is rich in niobium- and rare-earth-enriched carbonatite resources. Moma Mine was reported to contain Monazite, a phosphate mineral containing rare-earth elements.

The Ancuabe Mine in Cabo Delgado Province was initially acquired by TIMCAL Graphite & Carbon, which withdrew its agreement considering that the mine has insufficient reserves of graphite. Graphit Kropfmuhl AG later re-evaluated the mine and has plans of producing several thousand Mt/yr of graphite.

Miranda Gems Hong Kong Ltd. of Hong Kong and Moz Gems Ltd. mined elbaite tourmaline at Mavuco. Montepuez in Cabo Delgado Province was found to contain gem-quality ruby in its eluvial and primary deposits. Pyrope and pyrope-almandine garnet were produced at Cuamba in Niassa Province by Sociedade Vision 2000 Lda.

Fossil Fuels

Beacon Hill Resources plc produced 96,000 t/yr of coal in Chipanga XI Mine in 2010. The company plans to open a new mine to increase its coal production to 220,000 t/yr. Moatize Mine in Tete Province was acquired by Vale S.A. of Brazil to produce 12.7 Mt/yr of coking coal and 4.9 Mt/yr of thermal coal in late 2011. Riversdale Mining Ltd. of Australia along with its partner Tata Steel Ltd. of India opened the new Benga Mine in Tete Province in 2011, which is estimated to have 502 Mt of coal reserves.

Natural gas was mainly produced in Pande and the Temane gasfield. The production increased to 3.1 billion m3 in these regions in 2010 from 2.8 billion m3 in 2009. In 2010, the total value of natural gas exports in the country was $134 million, compared to $123 million in 2009.

A new petroleum refinery is planned by OilMoz Lda at Marracuene. The refinery was reported to have a production capacity of 350,000 barrels per day. The company also plans to build effluent and waste disposal plants, a tank farm, a petrochemicals plant and a 500 MW gas-fired power station. This project worth $8 billion is expected to be completed by 2014.

North River Resources acquired the Mavuzi Mine in the northwestern Mozambique to produce uranium.

Investment

Globally, Mozambique is not a significant consumer of mineral fuels or minerals. The economic growth of the country is based on the production of ilmenite, rutile, zircon, cement, niobium, tantalum, natural gas and coal. The global recession did not heavily affect the foreign investment in country’s mining and hydrocarbons sector. Countries like India and China have recently shown interest in Mozambique’s mining sector.

According to a recent report, Global miner Anglo American has acquired 58.9% share of the Revuboe coal project in Tete province for $555 million. Highland African Mining Company Ltd is investing $45 million to produce nearly 300 tons of tantalum in Marropino in Mozambique’s Zambézia province. The company has invested in this project in an attempt to increase its production and turnover.

Recent reports suggest that the country’s Ministry for Coordination of Environmental Affairs (MICOA) has terminated around 146 investment projects following their failure to satisfy the country’s environmental law requirements. The coal mining project undertaken by Riversdale Mining Ltd of Australia was also cancelled for transporting coal by barging it down the Zambezi River and polluting it. Despite the abundant coal supply in the neighboring countries, the government has not approved the project.

However, the government has planned to revise a new mining policy introduced in 2002 which states that the investors and the State of the benefits should be equally benefited from the country’s mining activities. The revision includes reducing the mining license period from 10 to seven years. In addition, the government is also planning to increase its profit from the hydrocarbons and mining sectors between 3 and 4% for the period from 2006.

With the country expecting to restart graphite mining and construct a new petroleum refinery and vanadium and iron ore mine, the mining industry in Mozambique is looking forward to experience rapid growth in the near future.

Disclaimer: The Author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.

Sources

Will Soutter

Written by

Will Soutter

Will has a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Durham, and a M.Sc. in Green Chemistry from the University of York. Naturally, Will is our resident Chemistry expert but, a love of science and the internet makes Will the all-rounder of the team. In his spare time Will likes to play the drums, cook and brew cider.

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