APA: Maputo (Mozambique) The Mozambican government has granted Rock Forage Titanium Ltd, a mining firm formed by Canadian and Mozambican investors, a tender to exploit heavy mineral sands in the southern district of Chibuto, local reports indicated in Thursday.
Initially, the rights to the Chibuto mineral sands were granted to the Australian company BHP-Billiton, but were withdrawn in 2009.
Reports suggested that the Chibuto concession area covers 10,840 hectares and studies to date indicate that the deposit contains 72 million tons of ilmenite (iron titanium oxide), and smaller amounts of rutile and zircon.
Ilmenite is used to produce titanium dioxide which is a key component of pigments in the paint, paper and plastics industries.
The tender was launched on 18 October 2010, and the deadline for bids was 18 March. Just two bids namely from Rock Forage Titanium, and MOD Chibuto Sands, a South African consortium were received and opened.
According to the reports, the Mineral Resources Ministry’s Assessment Commission found that the Rock Forage bid was much superior to the MOD submission, scoring 712.57 points against 400.36 points.
The government will now negotiate an agreement of principles with Rock Forage, followed by a mining contract.
One of the main problems in exploiting titanium ores in Chibuto is obtaining enough electricity for the mining and beneficiation.
A shortage of power in southern Africa has held up other major industrial projects, such as the third phase of the Mozal aluminium smelter on the outskirts of Maputo.