Mozambique to launch international public tender for Chibuto heavy sands project

19 July 2010

Maputo, Mozambique, 19 Jul – The Mozambican government is to launch a new international public tender to find a new concessionaire for the Chibuto heavy sands project, reports the Maputo-based daily Noticias.

The project to exploit the Chibuto heavy sands was granted for several years to Australia’s Corridor Sands, later acquired by BHP Billiton, one of the world’s biggest mining groups. After various trials, the latter announced it was technologically not viable to exploit the sands and in 2009 informed the Mozambican government that it was dropping the project.

At the time, BHP Billiton asked the Mozambican government to grant a two-year period to develop technology suitable for exploiting and processing the sands. Tests had indicated that they contained amounts of chromium, thus requiring a different technology than that possessed by the company.

The government deemed the period requested by BHP Billiton to be excessive and decided to cancel the concession and seek new investors to ensure viable exploitation of the Chibuto heavy sands project, said to be the world’s largest known reserve of its kind.

National mining director Eduardo Alexandre told the newspaper that preparations for the public tender were under way and that it should be launched within the next 60 days.

The project to exploit the Chibuto heavy sands in Gaza province requires an investment of more than US$1 billion dollars. Estimates indicate that it may employ around 1,750 mostly locally hired workers during the construction phase, while in the operational phase it should create 450 jobs. (macauhub)