What was feared, and many thought it was fantasy, is already happening. Two subsidiaries of the company Sofala Mining & Exploration, Lda. are about to start their exploration activities to determine if there are commercially viable concentrations of heavy minerals (zirconium, rutile and ilmenite) in the provinces of Gaza and Inhambane. Company representatives were in Inhambane two weeks ago, introducing themselves to local governments.

Information available on the website of the South African environmental consultant, Coastal & Environmental Services (CES) Mozambique, Lda., indicates that the company Sofala Mining & Exploration Lda. has recently acquired two prospecting and exploration licenses in those provinces. These are licenses 6842L (Project Marão), in Gaza province, Mandlakaze district, Macuácua administrative post and Inhambane province, Panda district, Mawayela administrative post and 6846L (Marruca Project), in Inhambane province, district of Panda, in the Administrative Post of Mawayela and district of Inharrime, in the Administrative Post of Mocumbi.

In order to comply with Mozambique’s environmental legislation, CES Mozambique, Lda., says it was hired to conduct the process for the environmental licensing of the Marão and Maruca projects, following the submission and approval of the Process Instruction documentation to the Ministry of Earth and Environment.

This announcement comes after a Chinese mining company, called DingShen, was banned at the beginning of April from destroying dunes to build a warehouse on the coast of Chonguene, in Gaza. A video about this case went into circulation, at the time, on social networks.

In addition, in the first quarter of 2020, British researcher Joseph Hanlon published an article criticizing the government’s granting of mining licenses to “400 square kilometers of Inhambane beach”. “In partnership with Rio Tinto, Savannah received, this year, an area of 400 square kilometers (equivalent to a block of 20 km on each side) on Inhambane beach, in which it will remove the old sand dunes to extract titanium (primarily to make white paint) and zircon (used in smelting as well as in nuclear fuel rods, catalytic converters, and water and air purification systems.) Savannah has applied for another 138 square kilometers in the same area,” reports Hanlon.

The granting of these licenses may be ignoring the tourist importance of the beaches, as well as the dunes that protect the coastal areas from natural disasters.

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