In addition, planning for the construction, operation and maintenance of the rail-link, the electrical power supply and port facilities are going ahead.
Marketing arrangements with significant producers of titanium pigment and project finance deals are also being concluded.
Southern Mining was established in 1997 with the specific purpose of evaluating heavy-mineral deposits.
In June 1998, the company acquired a 72% holding in Corridor Sands, which gave it control of the world-class Corridor Sands heavy-mineral sands deposit. The company has options to acquire the balance of the holding in Corridor Sands.
Southern Mining is now focused on the exploration and evaluation of the Corridor Sands resource. The objective is to develop this resource, in conjunction with a selected partner, into a world-class heavy-mineral sands mining and smelting operation.
The project will involve the investment of more than $400-million in the initial phase, and $1-billion to planned full production. This represents one of the most significant industrial developments in Mozambique and will position the country as a signficant supplier of titanium feedstocks to the world throughout the next century.
The project is based on the Corridor Sands deposit, located near the town of Chibuto in the Gaza province of southern Mozambique, some 190 km north of the capital, Maputo, and about 40 km inland from the Indian Ocean.
This deposit, probably the largest unexploited economically viable resource of titaniferous mineral sands in the world, was discovered in 1998.
The company plans a modern mining operation, which will be established close to Chibuto, and will include a mineral-processing plant to recover the valuable heavy minerals, primarily ilmenite, from the sands.
The ilmenite will then be transported by rail to the smelter for further beneficiation. It is proposed that the smelter complex will be located in an industrial zone at Matola, close to Maputo.
The ilmenite will be upgraded to a valuable titanium slag, together with a high-quality foundry iron. The mining operation will also produce the important minerals rutile and zircon, which will be transported by rail directly to the harbour at Matola for export. All the products will be exported through the existing Matola harbour facilities, or new facilities to be constructed close to the existing harbour operations.