There have been a number of recent developments involving smaller mining companies, both local and foreign, in Mozambique recently. These involve both exploration and production activities.
Mozambique miner MV Mining has been prospecting for rare earths in the Marromeu district, in Sofala province, since the middle of October. This was stated to the Beira-based newspaper Diário de Moçambique by district administrator Joaquim Arota. The company’s activities are taking place near the settlements of Mponda and Amambos, on the margins of the Zambesi river, in the area subordinate to the Chupanga administrative post. The administrator reported that the local people saw the project as a “second salvation” in terms of job creation, following on from the work created by the Sena Company, which is one of the country’s four sugar producers.
More technically known as lanthanides, rare earths are a series of 15 metallic elements, namely lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europeium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium and lutetium. They are sought after because they are used in the creation of very useful alloys, including alloys that can be used in nuclear reactors. Currently, the Macauhub news agency pointed out, most rare earths reserves and production were to be found in Asia. China alone had some 66% of world reserves and accounted for 87% of total production.
In Cabo Delgado province, Australian miner Syrah Resources has announced that it has started mining graphite at its Balama mine. To be precise, the company has produced its first bagged saleable flake graphite. The grade of the flake graphite was more than 95% fixed carbon and the miner added that construction of mine and process plant was “essentially complete”, with process plant optimisation now taking place. What remains to be done are the electrical and instrumentation works, the finishing of “construction punch list items” and verifying fines circuit checklists. The attrition cells for the plant are on site, and they will be installed once the fines circuit is commissioned.
“Following the intermediate concentrate produced in late October, Syrah has now successfully commissioned the final stages of the flake circuit, including polishing, filtration, drying, screening and bagging,” reported MD and CEO Shaun Verner. “Flake graphite produced is within our expected grade range, in excess of 95% fixed carbon. Remaining commissioning activities will focus on the fines circuit and further optimisation works. We expect our first shipment of flake product from the Nacala port in the coming weeks. “First cash receipts are expected in early 2018, with production of 160 000 tonnes to 180 000 tonnes in 2018, following customer qualification processes.
“This is a significant achievement for Syrah, our subsidiary, Twigg, and our host communities in Mozambique as the company moves into operations,” he affirmed. “The development of Balama has been achieved through an extremely dedicated construction, commissioning and operations team, with great support from the local communities, investors, suppliers. government and other stakeholders. “We look forward to reliably and consistently supplying the global graphite market and our planned Battery Anode Material (BAM) operation with the highest quality natural graphite.”
(The company plans to use some of its graphite to become the first integrated BAM producer outside China. BAM is a high value added product with growing markets in the electric vehicle, energy storage and consumer goods sectors. (It plans to achieve product qualification in the second quarter of next year and start commercial production during the fourth quarter. The BAM will be produced in a plant in the US state of Louisiana, so as to be located in one of the world’s main electric car manufacturing regions.)