Muiane tantalite mine to reopen

The Muiane tantalite mine in Gile district, Zambezia province, is to invest more than $11 million in the acquisition of new equipment, seismic prospection, and various other studies in preparation for relaunching production later this year.

Mozambique was once the world's third largest producer of tantalite, due to Muiane and the nearby mine of Morrua. But both were shut down in the 1980s, during the war of destabilisation waged by the South African apartheid regime The concession on Muiane used to be held by ITM Mining, which is mainly a diamond mining company. ITM abandoned Muiane, and the concession has now passed into the hands of the South African company, TAN Mining and Exploration.

TAN has already invested $6 million in mining prospection in the area. According to a report in the magazine "African Mining Review", the feasibility study undertaken by TAN involved "5,000 metres of drilling and some 3,000 assays to define the ore body".

The reserves are estimated at two million tonnes of ore, and TAN plans to mine it at a rate of 420,000 tonnes a year. The lifespan of the mine will therefore be no longer than five years.

According to TAN director Andy Johnson, cited in "Noticias" on 19 May, his company is rebuilding the mine, and that, to reduce production costs, his company is planning to set up a laboratory in Gile to evaluate the quality of the product, rather than sending the samples to South African laboratories.

When the Muiane mine is fully operational, it is expected to employ between 100 and 130 workers, recruited locally.

Through complex processing, the metal tantalum is extracted from tantalite. Tantalum is used to produce electrical components, notably tantalum capacitators, used in computers and mobile phone. It is also used to produce surgical instruments.


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