Mozambique: New technologies undergo tests at Chibuto heavy minerals project

14 July 2008

Maputo, Mozambique, 14 July – BHP Billiton is testing new technologies that will make the Chibuto heavy minerals project feasible as it has been negatively affected by the rise in fuel prices and the lack of electricity in the region, Mozambican daily newspaper, Notícias reported.

The paper added that for several years the project had been affected by the lack of available electricity in the Chibuto region, but the latest model proposed recommended the relocation of the mineral processing unit to the Beluluane region in the Boane district of Maputo province.

A source from the National Directorate for Mineral Resources said last week that work underway was focused on use of new technologies that are in the testing phase and that are expected to generate more income, making the Chibuto project more feasible than had previously been the case..

The new technology makes it possible to obtain a further two by-products from processing the heavy minerals: rotilium and iron. This would lead to a total of five possible useful by-products being extracted.

Recently, Corridor Sands, the owner of the heavy minerals project, was acquirted by Australia’s BHP Billiton, which led the new owners to reassess the feasibility of the project within its portfolio.

During that review the need to relocate processing of the minerals to Beluluane was considered, which is a good opportunity given the facilities already available in the area.

As well as controlling Corridor Sands, BHP Billiton is the majority shareholder of the Mozal aluminium foundry, and having a factory next to this one could allow for synergies with an industry that is already well established in the area and thus make use of existing facilities.

In Beluluane two furnaces could be installed and the foundry product will be pure iron, which will be exported as ingots, with 134,798 tons of iron produced per year. (macauhub)