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Economy - Development

Titanium mining promoted in Nampula, Mozambique

afrol News, 26 May - The mining of titanium-bearing sands, with a production of several heavy minerals, is being promoted in Mozambique's impoverished northern province of Nampula. Around 2000 jobs are expected to generate locally from the mining operations.

The African Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of 40 millions US dollars in favour of Kenmare Moma Mining Ltd (KMML) to finance the Moma Mineral Sands Project in the Nampula Province of Mozambique, according to a release received today.

The mining company, Kenmare Moma Mining Ltd (KMML), is responsible for mining and mineral concentration activities. It operates with the other joint company, Kenmare Moma Processing Ltd (KMPL) that owns the mineral separation plant.

The project involves dredge mining of titanium-bearing sands, the production of heavy minerals concentrate in a floating concentrator plant and the separation of final products in a separation plant.

According to ADB, the annual production rate is estimated at about 612,000 tons of ilmenite with three different grades, along with co-products of zircon and rutile of approximately 12,500 and 24,000 TPA, respectively. The titanium oxide (ilmenite and rutile) is mainly used in the pigment plastic and paper industries while zircon is mainly used for ceramic production.

The project is expected to provide "a strong economic impetus and stimulate industrial growth in Mozambique, and would provide significant economic benefits for the country." It is estimated to generate export revenues of about US$ 75 million per annum or US$ 1.5 billion over the life of the project and would thus contribute up to 2.4 percent per annum to the GDP of the Mozambique.

During the construction and operation phases the project is expected to create 1,200 and 436 direct jobs, respectively. Moreover, it is estimated that about 1,500 will be created outside the mining area due to ancillary and support services required by the project.

The project further aims at contributing to "expansion of the skills base and the extension of services to Nampula," one of the poorest district of the country. Potential socio-economic impacts are said to include "local, national and provincial economic benefits as well as the expansion of the national tax base and higher tax revenue for the Mozambican government."

- With respect to social development, the project is located in a remote and underdeveloped province, ADB describes the project. "Therefore, the construction of essential infrastructure such as roads, power and water supply, telecommunication, clinic, schools, airstrip, jetty, as well as additional services will improve the living standard of the people living in the project area."

The project also is to contribute to transfer of technology and know-how through on-and-off the job training of Mozambicans, the African bank foresees. Thus, it is expected to "improve the standing of Mozambique with regard to private foreign investors."

In addition, Moma project is said to "demonstrate the effectiveness of the IFZ regime in attracting further investments," ADB says. Mozambique's IFZ regime is the equivalent of the controversial Export Processing Zones (EPZ) in other parts of Africa, where foreign investors are exempted from national tax and labour regulations - often leading to excessive exploitation of local labour.

The total project cost is 350 million US dollars. The other sources of funds are the European Investment Bank (BEI), the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and KfW (German Development Bank).

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