Maputo — Mozambique could become one of the world's largest gold producers, according to research undertaken by the company Mwiriti, and cited by the independent daily "O Pais".
Mwiriti is one of Mozambique's main producers of precious stones, and is the minority shareholder in Montepuez Ruby Mining, which holds the concession on what is believed to be the largest deposit of rubies in the world.
According to the general manager of Mwiriti, Azghar Faqhr, his company's research has shown the existence of large quantities of gold in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. "The first results indicate a gold reserve six times larger than the reserves discovered in South Africa", he said.
The gold in Cabo Delgado is exceptionally pure. In the Nairoto area, said Faqhr, the gold is 22 carat, "that is, it comes out of the ground with a degree of purity between 86 and 91 per cent, exceeding the purity of the gold mined in Manica province".
Nairoto is in Montepuez district, and a small mining complex has been established there in the midst of a dense forest.
"Since we began the research, in 2015, we have invested about 11 million US dollars", said Faqhr. "More than half of that amount has been spent on acquiring and installing equipment at the site of the future Nairoto gold processing plant".
Currently, the first material extracted during the research phase is being processed, he added, and this will help in assessing the true potential of the gold deposit, and determine the final investment to be made at Nairoto.
"We are still in an experimental phase", said Faqhr, "and the equipment installed has the capacity to process only five tonnes an hour - but in the operational phase, we expect to process 50,000 tonnes an hour".
The mining complex employs 160 workers, most of them Mozambicans living in Nairoto.
Mwiriti arrived in Nairoto in 2003, through a forestry concession, where it hoped to establish a hunting reserve. But when poachers decimated the animal population, the area lost its tourism interest.
According to Faqhr, in 2005 the then administrator of the adjacent Quirimbas National Park, Amadeu Muchangos, alerted him to the occurrence of gold in the area. But it was only when illegal miners began to infest Nairoto, as from 2010, that this information was taken seriously.
The research began in 2015, and two years later Mwiriti obtained its first results. If the company's hopes are confirmed, Mozambique could become one of the world's top gold producers.