Maputo — The Mozambican government plans to lease out three blocks in the northern district of Nacala-a-Velha for prospection for precious and semi-precious stones.
The Ministry of Mineral Resources has put the three blocks out to tender, and bids must be submitted by 30 January. The tender is only open to Mozambicans.
This is the second tender the Ministry has launched aimed solely at Mozambican operators. The first was launched in June, for coal exploration licences in the Middle Zambezi basin, in Tete province.
Bidders for the Nacala-a-Velha blocks must submit an exploration programme and a detailed budge for the first year of activities.
Nampula province contains prized deposits of precious stones, such as tourmalines and aquamarines. In addition to Nacala-a-Velha, precious stones are known to occur in Moma, Mogovolas and Lalaua districts.
Interviewed by AIM earlier this year, the provincial director of mineral resources and energy, Moises Joao, said that the exploitation of precious and semi-precious stones has become a headache because of the activities of illegal artisanal miners.
The artisanal miners (known as “garimpeiros”) occupy areas that have already been leased out to private companies. Their activities harm the revenue that both the recognised companies and the Mozambican state could expect to obtain from the deposits.
Joao claimed that foreigners are behind the illegal activities, and buy the stones, particularly tourmalines, from the Mozambican miners at much less than their real value.
However, Joao claims that joint action by the mineral resources directorate and the police is bringing the situation under control, and there are now properly organised groups of Mozambican operators legitimately exploiting precious stones in the province.