Joseph Hanlon Reports:

“The entire 300 km coast from south of Xai Xai to Inhambane city is allocated for heavy sands exploration and mining, which involves huge dredges digging up the sand dunes along the coast. “Heavy sands” have titanium (mainly used for white paint) as well as smaller amounts of limonite, rutile and zircon (also used in white colouring and in foundry and industrial applications). Heavy sands in Gaza and Inhambane are found in three strips: very close to the present coast, in an ancient coastline and dunes about 60 km inland, and in various old dunes in between. The first project in this zone to go into production is Corridor Sands, 10,500 ha just north of Chibuto and the Limpopo River, and 50 km inland in ancient dunes, The mine is owned by Dingsheng Minerals, which is 85% owned by China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group and 15% by the Mozambican state mining company (Empresa Moçambicana de Exploração Mineira, EMEM). It has been producing for more than a year.

On 31 December the Australian based MRG Metals announced the confirmation of high grade minerals deposits in its Corridor concessions. That concession is a strip which starts east of Chibuto and Corridor Sands and extends to near the coast. The concession includes the N102 road and the town of Chongoene. MRG Metals now holds 1000 square kilometres – 100,000 hectares – in the area. One section actually on the coast (known as Linhuane) is 11,000 ha which includes the town of Quissico and the lovely lagoons and beach down the hill.

Initial profits come from selling of licences and MRM areas have changed hands five times, and might be sold on again to one of the larger mining companies. The concessions are in the name of Sofala Mining, recently taken over by MRG Metals. MRG has posted details and good maps on http://mrgmetals.com.au/exploration-projects The government maintains an excellent updated data base and interactive cadastral map of all applications and concessions, on https://portals.landfolio.com/mozambique/pt/ .

Amnesty International in 2018 said that Haiyu has altered the coastal landscape so severely that it is responsible for the damage caused by the floods in 2015 that destroyed 48 homes ( ).  Haiyu was accused of demolishing sand dunes, clearing vegetation, dumping mining waste into a swamp and burying two large lagoons and the waterways that linked the lagoons to the sea. Fishermen along the coast have lost their livelihood.  China’s Foreign Ministry has denied the accusation.  Haiyu wants to open a new mine near Vilankulu, Inhambane.

Chinese company Dingsheng Minerals, owned by Anhui Foreign Economic Construction, started mining heavy sands in Chibuto.  Gaza in 2017 and expects to process 100,000 tonnes of sand per day.  The concession is for 100 km2 and 1500 families will have to be resettled.

Titanium prospecting licenses have already been issued for the entire coast of Pemba, Cabo Delgado, in the south, up to the Zambezi River and in the city of Inhambane, in the south, up to Xai Xai.  British MRG Metals wants a 20 km2 mining area near the village of Koko Masava, Gaza, in an important agricultural area.”

The news has caused anger and apprehension in coastal communities. Over the weekend video footage emerged showing that Dingsheng minerals have already started clearing a road through the dune forests at Chonguene (north of Xai Xai) without the required permits or authorization. Residents of coastal communities, interviewed by phone over the weekend, say that “it is just a matter of time before ‘Al Shabaab’ appears here as well to drive us off our land”. A senior Catholic clergyman commented that “Mozambique is like a dead, abandoned animal, surrounded by vultures picking off its putrefying flesh”.

The map published by the government (https://portals.landfolio.com/mozambique/pt/)   has raised concerns as well. It shows that the entire coastline north of the Zambezi River as well as the entire coastline from Xai Xai to Inhambane has been allocated for prospecting. This places the future of coastal communities, dependent on fishing, in jeopardy. Secondly, it will irreparably destroy one of the most pristine, bio diverse and sensitive coastal habitats on the planet. Thirdly, the destruction of the coastal dunes leaves the entire country vulnerable to severe flooding after cyclones – now an annual occurrence due to climate change. Perhaps most notably, the map shows that all of Cabo Delgado that is not a national park has been licensed for mining, gas or prospecting.  There is nothing left for people or farms.

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EU Approves Humanitarian Funding For Mozambique

According to Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, the European Union (EU) will provide 24.5 million euros in humanitarian aid for southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region. The announcement was made last Friday in Brussels. Of this amount, 7.86 million euros will be channelled to the response mechanism to the humanitarian consequences of the conflict in Cabo Delgado, as stated in the statement from the Prime Minister’s office, Carlos Agostinho do Rosário.

EU aid to Mozambique results from a consultation meeting between the government, represented by Carlos Agostinho do Rosário and bilateral and multilateral cooperation partners in the context of strengthening coordinated actions and mechanisms for assistance to Cabo Delgado.

“The Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region is highly vulnerable to several natural hazards, including cyclones, droughts and epidemics. In some countries in the region, this is exacerbated by a challenging political and socio-economic environment, while the global situation is further aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic. EU assistance seeks to alleviate the humanitarian consequences for the most vulnerable populations, and to improve disaster preparedness, ”said the EU Commissioner.

The meeting between the Government and partners also served to harmonize positions on the implementation of the Assistance Action Plan to the province of Cabo Delgado which advocates, in addition to strengthening humanitarian assistance, the creation of conditions for the rapid normalization of the population’s life and the resumption of productive activity.

In the aforementioned Action Plan, the Government favors an approach that ensures that humanitarian assistance is carried out, primarily, in the places of origin of the displaced persons, whenever security conditions are created. The aim is to ensure that, in the short term, the affected population can gradually and sustainably resume their social and economic life in their places of origin.

The cooperation partners reiterated their commitment to continue to provide multiform support to Mozambique in the fight against terrorism, as well as in humanitarian assistance to the affected population, in a coordinated manner and aligned with the priorities defined by the Government.

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