Large and small miners announce, plan contract awards for Moz projects

6th October 2017 By: Keith Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Brazilian mining group Vale has awarded Mota-Engil Africa a $445-million contract to supply mining services to the Moatize coal mine, in Mozambique’s Tete province, the Macauhub news agency has reported. Mota-Engil Africa is a subsidiary of the Portuguese engineering, construction, contract mining and mining services, environmental services and tourism services group Mota-Engil.

During the second quarter of this year, Moatize set a new quarterly production record of a little more than these three-million tons (Mt). This was a 24.8% increase on the output during the first quarter and a 101.8% jump over the equivalent period last year. Of this 66%, or 2-Mt, was metallurgical (or coking) coal. Thermal coal production during the second quarter was 988 000 t. Moatize achieved adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of $157-million during the second quarter, which was a $96-million increase over the first-quarter figure of $61-million. This was the result of increases in both prices and volumes sold.

Mota-Engil Africa has executed a number of contracts for Vale in Mozambique (and Malawi) in recent years. This latest contract will see the Portuguese enterprise undertake drilling, the supply of explosives, and the loading and transport of both coal and waste material at the mine. Back in April 2014, when Mota-Engil Africa was building Section 3 of the Nacala Corridor Railway (connecting Moatize to the port city of Nacala), an audit by Vale established that the Portuguese company had exceeded its health and safety targets and that its health and safety record was one of the best of all Vale projects worldwide at that time. Much more recently, in March this year, the Mota-Engil group was awarded the Africa Chief Executive Officer Forum Award for International Corporation of the Year.

Meanwhile, in another sector of the Mozambique mining industry, London Aim-listed junior Premier African Minerals announced that it had reached an agreement to sell its 52% stake in Mozambique company TCT Indústrias Florestais (TCT IF) to forestry, agricultural and tourism company Amire Glory for $2.1-million. However, the miner will keep a 50% share in TCT IF’s limestone project. TCT IF owns a 24 812 ha forestry concession and, within the area of this concession, also a 27 km2 limestone exploration concession. The exploration licence for the limestone concession was granted to TCT IF in January 2016 and is valid for two years and can then be renewed for another two years. Premier African Minerals originally acquired its controlling stake in TCT IF in November last year, also for $2.1-million. The licence area has the Sena railway line between Moatize and Beira as its northern boundary. Further, this stretch of the railway includes a small yard with three sidings. There is also a road next to the concession area.

“Over the course of this year, Premier has become increasingly focused on the exploration and development of its Zulu lithium asset, [in Zimbabwe], and bringing RHA [Tungsten mine, also in Zimbabwe] into sustainable ongoing production. In addition, Premier has increased its strategic interest in Circum Minerals through a series of share acquisitions,” stated Premier in its media release on the TCT IF transaction.

“The limestone asset of TCT IF remains of continuing potential interest to Premier, but the deposit is still at the very initial stages of exploration. At the time of initial acquisition, there had been some early testwork on surface material of the limestone, which indicated that there were potentially acceptable grades of calcium carbonate for limestone for use in cement production, and initial work had suggested that solubility should be suitable for agrilime and that the material was also expected to be suitable for aggregate production . . . The company . . . [is] retaining a free-carried interest in the limestone deposits to completion of the initial exploration programme and without cost.”