Maputo — The Mozambican government has awarded the tender for the rights to exploit the heavy mineral sands in the district of Chibuto, in the southern province of Gaza, to the Zambezi Delta Consortium, which now has 180 days to negotiate with the government the terms and conditions for the project.
This is the third company to be awarded the rights to Chibuto mineral sands. Originally the rights were given to the Australian company BHP-Billiton, but it withdrew in 2009.
Then, in April last year the rights were handed over to Rock Forage Titanium Ltd, a company formed by Canadian and Mozambican investors.
However, in November 2011 the government cancelled Rock Forage Titanium's rights because the company failed to pay it the agreed signature bonus of 50,000 US dollars, despite repeated extensions to the deadline.
The government therefore had to lunch another tender, which only received two bidders: Zambezi Delta Consortium and SPI Chibuto Sands Consortium.
The sands at Chibuto are estimated to contain 72 million tonnes of ilmenite, 2.6 million tonnes of zircon and 400,000 tonnes of rutile.
Ilmenite (iron titanium oxide) and rutile (titanium dioxide) are used to make white pigments for paints, paper and plastic. Titanium can be extracted from these ores and used to manufacture metallic parts where light weight and high strength are needed. Zircon (zirconium silicate) is used for abrasive and insulating purposes.