Maputo, 1 Jun (AIM) - The Mozambican government wants the Brazilian mining giant Vale to sell on the local stock exchange (BMV) ten per cent of its coal mining venture in Moatize, in the western province of Tete.
According to the Minister of Mineral Resources, Esperanca Bias, this would "ensure the participation of Mozambicans in projects for the exploitation of natural resources".
Speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony for the new natural gas facilities in Temane, in the southern province of Inhambane, Bias pointed out that "we are working to ensure that Mozambicans, who meet requirements yet to be established, will take part in this venture".
Bias declined to reveal when the sale will take place, but added that "we will make an announcement when everything is clear about how to sell those shares".
In April, the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Vale signed the agreement under which the Brazilian company handed over a 5 per cent share of the Moatize project to the Mozambican government in return for 21 million US dollars.
This will be the second time that the Mozambican government has arranged for wider participation in a fossil fuel project.
The first was at Temane, where Companhia Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (CNH) is the vehicle for Mozambican participation in the exploitation and processing of natural gas.
CNH is the Mozambican partner of the South African petro-chemical giant SASOL, which has the rights to the Inhambane gas fields. A condition of the deal with SASOL was that Mozambicans would have the right to participation of up to 25 per cent.
The largest shareholder in CNH is the publicly owned National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH), with 70 per cent of the shares, followed by the Mozambican state itself with 20 per cent, while private companies and individuals own the other 10 per cent.
According to the Bias, "should other projects (in the area of oil and coal) reach maturity we will act in the same way".
2612E FURTHER DETAILS EMERGE OVER MOZAMBIQUE'S ROLE IN SKA TELESCOPE
By John Hughes
London, 1 June (AIM) - Mozambique is to host two sites for the world's largest and most powerful telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
The British based organisation SKA on Monday decided to build the world's largest ever telescope in southern Africa and Australasia, with Mozambique hosting part of the telescope at the Science and Technology Park in Maluana, Maputo province.
South Africa will lead most of the project, which will be centred in the Karoo and extend out into Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.
The telescope is to be constructed using an array of three thousand receivers spread over thousands of kilometres, picking up electromagnetic radiation and cosmic rays emitted by extremely distant celestial objects (such as stars and galaxies) through 15 metre wide dishes.
Two of the sites will be based in Mozambique, each with 24 dishes maintained by about ten local technicians.
Although not yet directly involved in the project, Mozambique's largest university, Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM), is closely linked to the SKA South Africa project. The radio telescope will boost postgraduate research and teaching programmes in radio astronomy at UEM and Mozambique's other universities.
The telescope will be fifty times more sensitive than the most powerful telescope in existence today. It will be able to interpret the data it receives ten thousand times faster than any previous telescope. This will require processing power equal to several million computers to sift through the same amount of data each day as two days' worth of global internet traffic.
The cost of the project is likely to be more than the budgeted 1.5 billion euros because SKA failed to decide whether to locate the telescope in southern Africa or Australasia. Instead, it decided to split the project between the two lead partners.
The SKA telescope will look at fundamental questions that we have not yet answered about the universe, including what happened moments after the big bang, why the universe is expanding at an accelerating speed, the role of magnetism and the nature of gravity.
The project is due to be completed in 2024.
3612E NO SIGN OF DEMONSTRATIONS IN MAPUTO
Maputo, 1 Jun (AIM) - Maputo city council has reassured residents that there is no sign of the planned demonstrations in the capital city.
The Councillor with special responsibility for transport, Joao Matlombe, told AIM that "we have total control of the city and everything indicates that there is no sign of any demonstration".
Calls have been circulating by SMS text messages and on social networks asking people to join "a massive demonstration" on Friday.
The anonymous messages began to circulate on Wednesday warning people to stay at home and to keep their children away from school to avoid reprisals.
The messages state that the demonstrations would protest against the rising cost of living due to the high cost of public transport and staple foods such as tomatoes, potatoes, rice, and bread.
However, Mozambique has recently seen many food prices fall. The National Statistics Institute (INE) found that in April the price of tomatoes in Maputo, Beira and Nampula fell by 6.6 per cent, dried fish by 5.8 per cent, coconuts by 3.1 per cent, lettuce by 6.6 per cent, butter beans by 1.2 per cent, and rice by 0.6 per cent.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Maputo on Friday did not see the serious rioting that hit the capital in September 2010. Then, violent riots against increases in the cost of living rocked Maputo and the neighbouring city of Matola, resulting in the death of over a dozen people.
1612E MEDIAFAX REPORTS MINISTER DENIES AUTHORISING SALE OF COVE TO PTT
by John Hughes
London, 1 Jun (AIM) Cove Energy on Friday reacted with genuine surprise when asked about a report that Mozambique's Minister of Mineral Resources, Esperanca Bias, has denied authorising its sale to the Thai state oil company PTT.
The Thai state oil company PTT on Tuesday announced that it has received written approval from the Mozambican government to go ahead with its offer of 1.9 billion US dollars to buy the British company Cove Energy.
Cove holds an 8.5 per cent share in the Rovuma Offshore 1 exploration area, off the coast of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado. The exploration area's operator, the US company Anadarko Petroleum, has so far discovered up to 50 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. Cove also has a ten per cent stake in the Rovuma Onshore block.
Any takeover will require approval by the Mozambican government and will be subject to a 12.8 per cent capital gains tax.
On its web site, Cove Energy states that it has "received written confirmation from the Government that it consents to the offer for Cove announced by PTTEP on 23 May 2012, should the offer be finalised".
PTT's bid surpassed an earlier offer of 1.8 billion dollars from Royal Dutch Shell. Some commentators had thought that Shell would be preferred by the Mozambican government because of its experience in the liquefaction of natural gas.
However, the daily newsheet "Mediafax" reported on Friday that Bias has denied authorizing the sale, telling the newsheet "we have always said that we want someone who can add value. We are waiting for Cove to tell us who this company is that will add value . who has the technical capacity, who has the financial capacity, who will add value in terms of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)".
The Minister told journalists that "companies are still making their offers . then there will be a conclusion. There are requirements that the companies who want to acquire this share have to respect and we have to wait".
Cove Energy's spokesperson, Billy Clegg, told AIM that he had not heard about the minister's comments and asked to see a copy of Mediafax.
Meanwhile, Mediafax are standing by its story and told AIM that the best way to clear up the matter would be for Cove or PTT to publish the letter from the Mozambican government giving the green light for the transaction.
129512E MOZAMBIQUE TO INTRODUCE DIGITAL BROADCASTING IN 2013
Maputo, 1 Jun (AIM) - Mozambique is to begin radio and television digital broadcasting next year, with the full digital switchover due to take place in 2015.
The Mozambican government decided at the end of 2010 to adopt the European standard DVB-T2, in line with the other member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Speaking in Maputo on Thursday during an international conference on digital terrestrial broadcasting organised by the National Communications Institute of Mozambique (INCM), the Deputy Minister of Transport and Communication, Eusebio Saide, said that the country is advancing in line with the International Telecommunications Union recommendation to shut off the analogue signal by 2015.
The vice-president of the National Commission for Digital Migration, Simao Anguilaze, said that the process is on course, except for a few financial difficulties.
According to Anguilaze, new transmission costs alone amount to 60 million US dollars. He suggested that the way out of the financial constraints is to auction the radio spectrum, which can be used by telecommunications companies. He said that the National Commission is working on the creation of legal instruments to govern this process.
It has been internationally agreed that after 2015 countries may use frequencies currently assigned to analogue radio and television for digital services. As a result, analogue services might become vulnerable to interference from neighbouring countries.
After the analogue signal is switched off, viewers will need to either have a modern television or buy a digital receiver to plug into their television. The digital receivers start at about 30 US dollars.
Digital television and digital radio have the advantage of reduced signal interference.
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