Maputo — Mining companies are planning to extract heavy mineral sands from the pristine beaches of the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane.
Cited in Monday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique", David Archer, the chief executive officer of the London-based company Savannah Resources, said the Inhambane beaches are "one of the most attractive undeveloped deposits of mineral sands in the world".
In partnership with the Anglo-Australian multinational Rio Tinto, Savannah has been granted a concession of 400 square kilometres in Inhambane, from which it plans To extract titanium ores and zircon.
The most common titanium compound, titanium dioxide, is used in the manufacture of white pigments. Titanium can be alloyed with iron, aluminium and other metals to produce lightweight alloys for the aerospace industry and many other applications.
Zircon (zirconium silicate) is used in ceramics, water and air purification systems, nuclear fuel rods and catalytic fuel converters.
Savannah has applied for a further 138 square kilometres in the same area, in the districts of Inharrime and Jangamo.
The Chinese company Haiyu wants to open a heavy sands mine near the Inhambane town of Vilankulo. Haiyu has been operating in Angoche district, in the northern province of Nampula since 2011, and has been accused of causing major environmental damage. Its operations were blamed for a flash flood that destroyed the coastal village of Nagonha in 2015.
Mining the beaches of Inhambane poses an obvious threat to the tourism for which the province is best known, and to the natural beauty of the coastline.