During the first six months of 2012 coal became Mozambique’s number two export, the Bank of Mozambique has revealed in its recent ‘Economic Climate and Inflation Perspectives’ report.
The country’s coal exports in this period were worth $196.4-million.
This helped boost the country’s exports to $1.8-billion, a 3.6% increase over the same period last year.
The coal is currently coming from opera-tions in Tete province, namely Moatize and Benga.
Moatize belongs to world number two (in market capitalisation) miner, Vale, while Benga belongs to world number three mining group Rio Tinto.
Mozambique’s number one export remains aluminium, from the Mozal smelter (which is 47.1% owned by BHP Billiton, the world’s number one mining group in terms of market capitalisation, 25% by industrial giant Mitsubishi, 24% by South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation and 3.9% by the Mozambican government). This was despite a significant reduction in world aluminium prices and, thus, in the value of the country’s aluminium exports. In all, Mozal’s export earnings were $579.6-million.
In this period, the mining industry was also responsible for a 61.7% increase in capital goods imports, in comparison to the first semester of 2011. The value of these imports during the first half of this year was $593.8-million, a reflection of the dynamism of the mining and exploration sector in the country. Even so, total imports into Mozambique in this period declined by 2.6%, although that still left the country with a trade deficit of $687-million.
The bank noted that foreign direct invest-ment in major projects in the country (which are in the mining and hydrocarbons sector) increased by more than $200-million to $973.5-million. The biggest foreign investor in Mozambique is now Brazil, reports Mozambique’s Ministry of Planning and Development. During the first nine months of this year, Brazilian investments in the country came to more than €605-million. This was largely due to investments in the Nacala Integrated Logistics Corridor by Vale.
The miner has budgetted $773-million for this project. (Portugal ranked second in this period, with in investments in Mozambique worth €121-million, while South Africa came third, with more than €79-million.) In all, in the first three quarters of 2012 the Mozambican government approved 264 foreign and local investment projects (in all sectors), with a total value of more than €2.1-billion.
Mining and exploration in Mozambique is not just focused on coal. Last week, Australian junior Syrah Resources announced the results of its initial exploration at its Balama graphite and vanadium project, in Cabo Delgado province. With the results from 23 drill holes and eleven trenches, the company reported encountering multiple high to very high grade zones.
For Balama East, the initial estimates are of a deposit of 300-million tons to 400-million tons with a total graphitic carbon (TGC) content of 11% and a vanadium (V2O5) content of 0.3%. For Balama West, the figures are 400-million tons to 500-million tons with a TGC of 10% and a V2O5 content of 0.2%. The scoping study is considering a life-of-mine of 100 years.
Earlier this month, Canadian junior Brigadier Gold reported significant gold assays from its recently completed due diligence sampling at its Tsiquire project, near Gorongosa, in Sofala province. “The company believes that these extremely strong sample results combined with the apparent surface expression of the mineralisation make a compelling case for further exploration,” said Brigadier Gold in its statement. “The weathered nature of the area would easily facilitate an openpit type of mining operation.”
Chinese company Sogecoa is also explor-ing for gold in the Gorongosa district. Sogecoa is a subsidiary of the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction company and also has a gold prospecting permit for the Chifunde district, in Tete province.