Mozambique: Chibuto heavy minerals project unfeasible “at the moment” – BHP Billiton

5 February 2009

Maputo, Mozambique, 5 Feb – The project to mine titanium minerals in Chibuto, Mozambique, is “unfeasible at the moment” and the investment of US$700 million cannot be justified based on projected income, multinational company BHP Billiton said Wednesday in Maputo.

“BHP Billiton will, however, wait for its exploration license to be renewed for possible future developments of the project,” the group said in a statement published in the Mozambican capital. BHP Billiton is the main shareholder of aluminium foundry Mozal, the country’s biggest company.

The multinational added that “all the projects remain under review until they are approved to move on to the development phase,” taking into account a “disciplined attribution of capital,” at a time when mineral prices on the international market are at their lowest level of the last few years.

Tuesday’s edition of newspaper Notícias reported that workers at the project’s office and who provided support during the pre-feasibility study were currently receiving redundancy letters, with the same happening to some workers in Chibuto.

Amongst the main constraints identified is the fact that the reserve is located some 70 kilometres from the railroad linking to the port of Maputo, which would imply construction of a branchline or new road to guarantee exports, the paper said.

The company said that the pre-feasibility study would be concluded on schedule on 31 March, 2009.

However, it had already concluded that, “the value that can be obtained from this deposit is inadequate for its development at the moment.” (macauhub)