Moma titanium mine to start up this year

10 July 2006

Maputo, Mozambique, 10 July – The titanium mine at Moma in northern Mozambique will begin operating ahead of schedule at the end of the year, says the operator of the venture, Kenmare Resources of Ireland.

In its annual report published last week, Kenmare says that 80% of construction work on the mine, budgeted at a total US$ 253 million, has been finished and the onset of operations can, therefore, be brought forward.

In September 2005, some 41% of building work on the mining project was finished, says the Irish firm’s annual report, noting that “permanent accommodation, roads and other work” were concluded.

A 170-kilometer-long power transmission line to hook the mine up to the national grid is almost complete, says Kenmare Resources in its yearly report.

Construction costs of the Moma project reached US$ 113.7 million in 2005.

The contract for the building of the mine was signed in April 2004 and the venture is being undertaken by a consortium of subsidiary companies of Multiplex of Australia and Bateman of South Africa. The project is being coordinated from an office in Johannesburg.

Two pump dredges are being assembled at the site and are among the main items of equipment being installed by Kenmare Resources.

Project constructors have scheduled the building of a reservoir needed for mining activities and the start of work on a mineral separation unity by the close of this year.

About 1,700 technicians and workers will also be contracted to the venture by the end of 2006, some 700 of these staff being from abroad.

The building of the heavy mineral sand project at Moma has been affected by its remote location, 1,300 kilometers from Maputo, requiring great ingenuity and complex logistical operations to overcome initial problems, such as the nearest telephone cable being 240 kilometers away and the road to the port of Nampula being a bush footpath.

Most of the equipment had to be transported in barges hired in Australia and landed onto the beach. Other items were sent by air in small planes that landed on a 1.5 kilometer strip built on the site by the Irish company.

High temperatures and the malaria threat also hampered operations, which, however, will be concluded ahead of schedule.

The Moma mine has estimated titanium reserves of limonite (101 million metric tons), rutile (2.7 million tons) and zircon (7.8 million tons), all essential for the manufacture of paper, plastic, paint and other materials.

When the mine reaches its maximum operating capacity as expected in 2007, predicted annual production is 700,000 tons of limonite, 17,000 tons of rutile and 60,000 tons of zircon. (macauhub)