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Angola advances its mining reforms

2nd August 2019

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The Angolan government is to launch a public tender process during the remainder of this year for five mining concessions. These will be for diamonds, iron-ore and phosphates. This was announced late last month by the country’s Mineral Resources and Petroleum Minister, Diamantino Azevedo, during a visit to the city of Moçamedes (capital of Namibe province), the Macauhub news agency reported.

The tender process will involve two diamond concessions, one iron-ore concession and two phosphate concessions. The diamond concessions are located in the provinces of Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul, the iron-ore concession is in Cuanza Norte province and the phosphate concessions in Cabinda and Zaire provinces. Currently, these concessions are all held by the State-owned Ferrangol mining company. (Ferrangol is an acronym for Empresa Nacional de Ferro de Angola; although this name translates as Angola National Iron Company, it has hitherto served as the national representative partner company for most metals and minerals other than diamonds.)

In addition, he said that Ferrangol should continue negotiating with major international mining companies regarding other projects. Specifically mentioned were negotiations with Anglo American, De Beers, Kumba Iron Ore and Rio Tinto. (De Beers and Kumba are subsidiaries of Anglo American, which holds 85% of De Beers and 69.7% of Kumba.)

With the Anglo American group, the negotiations are focused on prospecting for copper (in Moxico province) and rare earths (in Cunene province). With De Beers, the focus is naturally on prospecting for diamonds, in the two Lunda provinces (Norte and Sul). With Kumba, the intent is to prospect for iron-ore (no target provinces were mentioned). Regarding Rio Tinto, the negotiations again concern copper prospecting, also in Moxico.

Further, Azevedo announced that the near future would see the start of production, export and commercialisation of gold and the evaluation of rare earths prospecting at Longonjo, in Huambo province. It is not clear from the report whether the gold project is also at Longonjo or not.

Separately, Minerals Resources national director André Buta highlighted that the return of diamond mining licences to 241 companies and semi-industrial cooperatives, in seven provinces, would facilitate the creation of at least 20 000 jobs. He made the comment at a ceremony held in the city of Dundo (which lies on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo), where he handed over 31 of the 81 licences allocated to Lunda Norte (Dundo is the capital of that province).

Mining licences would also be returned to such enterprises in the provinces of Bié, Cuanza Norte, Cuanza Sul, Lunda Sul, Malanje and Uíge. These licences had previously been withdrawn under the country’s Operation Transparency, which was directed at countering diamond smuggling and illegal immigration.

Addressing the representatives of the 31 Lunda Norte entities that had been regranted their mining licences, Buta urged them to employ young people from their neighbouring communities. He pointed out that a semi-industrial mine with a minimum workforce of 30 people could include foreigners legally resident in Angola.

He further noted that security in the mining areas was the responsibility of the cooperatives.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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