BALAMA, MOZAMBIQUE– Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Thursday inaugurated a graphite mine in Balama district, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, with a capacity to produce a quarter of a million tonnes of graphite a year when operating at peak capacity.

The investor is Twigg Exploration and Mining, which is a subsidiary of the Australian company, Syrah Resources. The investment so far is around 250 million US dollars.

Speaking at the inauguration, Nyusi said the new mine fits into the government’s strategic vision for the industrialisation of the country. It will make Mozambique one of the largest producers of graphite in the world, alongside countries such as China and Brazil.

The country is winning and the quality of life of the population will improve,” he declared, addressing the mine’s workers and managers, and the Balama public.

The open cast mine has been in operation since November, exporting graphite to markets in Europe, America and Asia.

According to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Syrah Resources, Shaun Verner, since operations began, the mine has already produced more than 160,000 tonnes of graphite. Much of the production has been exported through the port of Nacala, in the neighbouring province of Nampula.

Verner added that when peak production is reached, the Balama mine will bring the Mozambican State tax revenue of about 17 million US dollars a year. During the construction phase the mine employed about 2,300 people. In the initial operational phase, the mine has 650 workers, 90 per cent of them Mozambican, and 60 per cent recruited locally.

The mine is estimated to have a useful life of 50 year. The known reserves of graphite here are estimated at 114 million tonnes, making the Balama deposit by far the largest in the world. By comparison, known reserves in Turkey are put at 90 million tonnes, in Brazil at 70 million tonnes, and in China at 55 million tonnes.

Graphite is a form of carbon which is highly valued because of its properties as a conductor of electricity. It is used in batteries and fuel cells and is the basis for the miracle material graphene, which is the strongest material ever measured, with vast potential for use in the electronics industries. Graphite is also used for high-quality steel production.