Maputo — The only bauxite mine in Mozambique, located at Penhalonga in the central province of Manica, is at risk of closing, for lack of a market for its product, reports Monday's issue of the Beira daily paper “Diario de Mocambique”.
The managing director of the company, Mina Alumina, John Makle, said the company can extract up to 13,000 tonnes of bauxite a year. But from 2011 onwards it has only been producing 7,500 tonnes.
The company used to sell its bauxite to Zimbabwe and Zambia, but its clients in those countries are no longer buying.
“The economic crisis in Zimbabwe has seriously affected us”, said Makle. “Right now, we're waiting for a new market, the South African market, that wants to acquire our product”.
The fall in production has already led the company to sack 42 of its 65 workers. A further eight workers are at imminent risk of losing their jobs.
The Mina Alumina trade union committee accepts that the company is facing financial difficulties in paying the dismissed workers heir redundancy pay. Like the employer, the unions see selling bauxite to South Africa as a possible lifeline.
The proposal from South Africa is to purchase 5,000 tonnes of bauxite a year from Mina Aluimina. A sample of 30 tonnes is being sent to South Africa for analysis and assessment. If the potential buyer approves, then the mine could be saved.
“We cancelled further sackings”, said Makle, “because at the last moment a new buyer in South Africa appeared, and asked for several tonnes for assessment. At the same time the Zimbabwean Minister of Mines has told the company Zimforce to buy our bauxite again, though not in large amounts”.
For a longer term solution, the company hopes to attract partners who would invest in processing bauxite, setting up factories in the provincial capital, Chimoio, and in Manica Town.