Dar es Salaam — The government has issued licences to five graphite mining companies in Ruangwa District, Lindi Region.
Tanzania Mining Commission executive secretary Shukrani Manya told BusinessWeek that the government had issued licences to all the five companies.
They include Uranex, which is set to build infrastructure for the first Graphite Special Economic Zone in the country.
Other companies are Walkabout that runs Lindi Jumbo project, Ngwena, Nazaret and Pacco Gem, according to him.
"All the five mining companies now are at the stage of preparations of production process after receiving licences," said Prof Manya.
The issuance of licences of the five companies brings to seven the number of graphite projects in Tanzania. That of Namangale is being operated by Volt Resources of Australia and Epanko run by another Australian investor, Kibarani Resources. Ruangwa District executive director Andrea Chezue told BusinessWeek recently that the district is poised to be the largest producer of graphite in the country as it possesses 60 per cent of all national graphite reserves.
Mr Chezue said the district was ready to co-operate with investors to contribute substantially to economic growth of the surrounding communities in the district and the country at large.
Minerals minister Angellah Kairuki early this year said that once fully operational, the graphite projects would position Tanzania one of the top-three graphite producers in the world. According to Future Markets Insights, the global graphite market was worth $15.8 billion in 2016, and is forecast to see a compound annual growth rate of 6.7 per cent through to 2027, driven in part by demand for lithium-ion batteries, which are used in a range of products, including electric cars.
Graphite Investing News last week reported that Mozambique, Namibia and Madagascar were also promoting graphite mining.
It reported that two big investors were operating in Mozambique.
They are Syrah Resources, which is registered at the Australian Stock Exchange. It holds the largest graphite ore reserves in the world at 81.4 million tonnes. The second is Australian investor Triton Minerals that holds an 80 per cent stake in Grafex-Triton with eight exploration licences in Mozambique, six of which have been granted and two of which are in application.
In July 2017, Triton raised AU$1.23 million via a strategic placement with Shandong Tianye Mining, its largest shareholder.
According to the same source, there are four graphite investors in Madagascar.
They include Bass Metals, an Australian company which acquired its Madagascar-based Graphmada large-flake graphite mine from Stratmin Global Resources in 2016.
The second investor in Madagascar is Lithium Australia, which in March 2017 acquired the exploration rights for Capricorn Metals.
The third is Capricorn Metals of Madagascar-based graphite assets and the fourth is NextSource Materials, which previously was known as Energizer Resources, with the vigour of developing its Molo graphite project in Madagascar.
As for the case of Namibia there is one long-term investor, CKR Carbon, which has increased its stake in the Aukam graphite project in Namibia to 63 per cent.
In 2016 China was the largest producer of graphite, with 780,000 tonnes a year while India was second, with 170,000 tonnes a year. Brazil was the third, producing 80,000 tonnes annually, according to Future Markets Insights.
Natural graphite is mostly consumed for refractories, batteries, steelmaking, expanded graphite, brake linings, foundry facings and lubricants. Graphene, which occurs naturally in graphite, has unique physical properties and is among the strongest substances known.