CHIBUTO, MOZAMBIQUE — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has encouraged the Chinese company, the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group, to work in a co-ordinated fashion with the local communities and the administration of Chibuto district in the southern province of Gaza, where the company plans to exploit titanium-bearing heavy mineral sands.

The Anhui concession covers an area of 10,544 hectares and is believed to hold reserves of 108 million tonnes of ilmenite, the main titanium ore. Ilmenite (titanium iron oxide) is the main source of titanium dioxide, which is used to produce white pigments in such products as paper, paint, plastics and toothpaste. Some of the titanium derived from ilmenite is also used to produce high strength, lightweight alloys.

About 1,500 households in the affected area will have to be resettled from the Anhui concession, and so far the company has built 489 houses for them.

Nyusi expressed satisfaction at the other facilities which Anhui is building to ensure that its product can be moved efficiently. These include a new 70-kilometre long railway from Chibuto to Chokwe, where trainloads of ore join the Limpopo line from Zimbabwe to Maputo. Anhui is planning a dedicated terminal at Maputo port to handle the ilmenite exports.

Also on the drawing board are an airport at Chibuto, and a new power station at Massingir, with a power line connecting it to the ilmenite mine at Chibuto.

We are urging the greatest collaboration with the communities, since they are part of this undertaking. It is necessary to take care of the communities and the workers, and the government is ready to give support in all that may be necessary. The gains are enormous. We have to cherish this project to the benefit of both countries (Mozambique and China) and the communities, the president said.

As part of the social projects associated with the project, Anhui is also building a water treatment station, which will be able to treat 10,000 cubic metres of water a day, and should be completed by the end of June. It will also build a hotel, a supermarket, and a factory producing zinc sheets for roofing.

The entire Anhui investment is estimated at a billion US dollars, and the known reserves will allow the mine to operate for between 70 and 100 years. A test factory is already operating, and is able to process 1,000 tonnes of ore a day. The tests are due to conclude by the end of June.

Chinese Ambassador to Mozambique Su Jian said: This initiative is part of the Chinese policy of transforming the natural resources of Mozambique.”

He added that when fully operational, the processing plant will employ 3,000 Mozambican workers.