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Mining activities in Mozambique contributes only 2% to GDP. Currently most of the country’s official mineral output is derived from three mining concerns, which include gold, bauxite and graphite. Most of the major projects currently undergoing construction or feasibility are focused on heavy mineral sands, coal, natural gas as well as, downstream, aluminum smelters, hot briquetted iron and steel plants.

The Mineral industry of Mozambique plays a significant role in the world’s production of aluminum, beryllium, and tantalum. In 2006, Mozambique's share of the world's tantalum mine output amounted to 6%; beryllium, 5%; and aluminum, 2%. Other domestically significant mineral processing operations included cement and natural gas.

Mozambique’s geology is highly varied and consists mainly of Precambrian terrains (ranging from Archaean to Upper Proterozoic rocks), covered predominantly in the south by Phanerozoic cover (ranging from Jurassic through to Tertiary rocks). Most gemstone, gold, base metal and carbonatite hosted minerals are located in the older Precambrian terrains. The younger cover contains industrial minerals, including coal, alluvial diamonds and heavy mineral sands.

Diamond

All of the diamonds recovered in Mozambique to date have been derived from alluvial sources draining Zimbabwe and South Africa. Although several kimberlites have been found close to the Zambian border as well as in northwestern Mozambique, little work has been carried out to evaluate the diamond bearing potential of them.

Gold

Small amounts of gold are produced by artisanal miners. As of 2006, Pan African Resources plc of the United Kingdom was considering the development of a mine at the Fair Bride deposit on its Manica gold project. The mine would produce an average of 2,600 kg/yr during an expected mine life of between 8 and 9 years. Pan African planned to start drilling in the first quarter of 2007.

Aluminum

Mozambique is Africa's second ranked producer of aluminum after South Africa. The Mozal aluminum smelter, which used alumina imported from Western Australia as raw material, increased output to 564,000 metric tons (t) in 2006 compared with 555,000 t in 2005. Mozal’s rated capacity amounted to 506,000 metric tons per year; BHP Billiton Ltd. planned to increase capacity by 250,000 t/yr by 2009. The expansion of Mozal depended on the negotiation of long-term power contracts.

In the first six months of 2006, aluminum exports were valued at US$637.8 million compared with US$504.2 million during the same period in 2005. The share of aluminum in total exports, however, declined to 57% from 63% as other exports increased at a faster rate.

E.C. Meikles (Pty.) Ltd. of Zimbabwe operates a small bauxite mine in Manica Province. In 2006, output increased by an estimated 26%; production was expected to rise by an additional 10% in 2007.

Coal

Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD) of Brazil completed a feasibility study on the development of the Moatize coalfield in 2006; the company planned to make its final decision about the project in 2007. If CVRD were to decide to proceed, the Moatize Mine was expected to produce 9 million metric tons per year (Mt/yr) of coking coal and 3.5 Mt/yr of thermal coal starting as early as 2010. The coaking coal was likely to be consumed by steel plants in Brazil; thermal coal would be consumed by a new coal-fired power station built by CVRD in Mozambique with a capacity of 1,500 megawatts.

Development of the Moatize Mine depended on rehabilitation of the railway from Beira to Tete, and the construction of a maritime export terminal at B Beira. Total costs of the project were estimated to be $2 billion. As of 2006, Ircon International of India and Rites Ltd. of India were engaged in rebuilding the 650-kilometer (km) rail line from Beira to Tete, which linked the Moatize Mine to the Port of Beira. Rehabilitation was expected to be completed in early 2009.

Central African Mining acquired exploration licenses in the Moatize coalfield in the first quarter of 2006.

Bauxite

In 2003 Mozambique recorded 11,793 t in bauxite production compared to 9,119 t in 2002. Bauxite is mined at a small mine in Manica Province which is operated by E.C. Meikles (Pty.) Ltd. of Zimbabwe most of which is then exported out of the country. BHP Billiton is the principal shareholder of the Mozal Smelter, but this is an industrial, not a mining operation. This successful venture uses electricity from South Africa and alumina from Australia to produce 500,000 t/y of aluminum.

Niobium (Columbium) and Tantalum

National production of tantalite was estimated to be 240,000 kilograms (kg) in 2006 compared with 281,212 kg in 2005. Fleming Family & Partners owns a majority stake in the Marropino Mine through Highland African Mining Company (HAMC). The company was unable to produce at Marropino until the fourth quarter of 2006 because of financial and technical problems. HAMC also holds a license to produce tantalite from the Morrua Mine, which had been shut down since the 1980s. If the Morrua Mine were reopened, it could produce as much as 230,000 kilograms per year (kg/yr) of tantalum pentoxide (Ta2O5).

As of 2006, TAN Mining and Exploration of South Africa planned to reopen the Muiane Mine in mid-2005 at a cost of us$5 million. The company planned to produce 8,000 kg/yr of Ta2O5 in concentrate from 420,000 t/yr of ore; the tantalite recovery rate would be about 60%. By the end of 2006, production had not restarted at Muiane, however, and TAN’s lease was awarded to HAMC because the former company reportedly violated clauses in its contract with the Government.

Gemstones

Aquamarine, morganite, tourmaline, and other gemstones are mined in Zambezia Province; dumortierite, in Tete Province; and garnet, in Niassa Province. The mine output of garnet doubled to an estimated 4,400 kg in 2006; the increase may have been attributable to upgrades to the Cuamba Mine by Sociedade Mineira de Cuamba E.E. Garnet production was expected to increase by 26% in 2007. The production of dumortierite declined sharply in 2005 because of poor market conditions and a lack of equipment. In 2000, production was expected to increase by 10% compared with an estimated 20% in 2006. Copper-containing tourmaline was mined from an alluvial deposit in the Alto Ligonha District of Zambezia Province starting in early 2004; the mines were still producing at the end of 2006.

Mineral Law & Legislation

Most of Mozambique’s mining and mineral processing operations are privately owned, including the cement plants, the Mozal aluminum smelter, and the Temane gas processing plant.

The Mozambican Government is firmly committed to encouraging foreign investment in developing Mozambique’s fledging mining industry. A new mining and geological policy has been implemented with the existing legislation, which improve the country’s competitive position in the region. All applications for exploration and mining rights have to be addressed to the Minister of Mineral resources and Energy for processing by the National Directorate of Mines.

In general, large scale and foreign investment projects are subject to individual licensing agreements. Basic license conditions are outlined in the table below:

Major Players in the Industry

  • Pan African Resources plc (U.K.)
  • E.C. Meikles (Pty.) Ltd (Mozambique)
  • Central African Mining
  • Highland African Mining Company (HAMC)
  • TAN Mining and Exploration (South Africa)
  • Sociedade Mineira de Cuamba E.E. Garnet
  • AGRO ALFA S.A.R.L.
  • Baetica, Consultoria em Mineração, Lda. (Baetica)
  • Drusa Lda.
  • Manica Minerals
  • Norange Mozambique
  • Rachana Global Lda.

Key Figures

  • Aluminum production: 564 thousand metric tons (2006)
  • Bauxite production: 12 thousand metric tons (2006)
  • Gold production: 68 kilograms (2006)
  • Tantalite production: 240,000 kilograms (2006)

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