Official Government Wires

Msawise, (Mozambique) 29 Jun (AIM) - Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Thursday urged residents of the administrative post of Msawise, in the northern province of Niassa, to exploit mineral resources in a sustainable and wise manner, including rubies which are found in fair amounts in that region.

Guebuza, who was addressing a rally in the district of Mavago as part of his "open presidency" started on Tuesday, added that this is one of the major challenges faced by Mozambicans.

According to Guebuza, everybody wants his share from country's wealth, particularly when those riches are found bellow the ground, but often the exploitation of those resources is carried out in a disorganised manner.

'The government intends to improve the mining of rubies in Msawise, which should benefit all local residents", explained Guebuza, answering to concerns raised by the local residents, who complained that local authorities have forced a number of people to stop their activities.

Ascimo Mbwana, one of the residents, told President Guebuza that there is plenty of wealth beneath the ground in Msawise, which is not benefiting anyone because of police actions.

'When the mines were discovered they used to generate plenty of wealth for the local population, but now we are being chased away by the police. Now, our life standard has degenerated", complained Mbwana.

A report from the local government presented to Guebuza, states that one of the obstacles for Msawise's development 'is the delay in the legalization of area with ruby deposits, which could benefit the local population".

In the recent past, Msawise was invaded by foreigners who used to mine rubies illegally, but they were later expelled by the local authorities.

During the rally, the residents also asked for the increase of the "Seven Million Meticais Fund", construction of another bridge over the Rovuma River to ease the movement of people and goods between Mozambique and the neighbouring Tanzania, better roads, potable water and schools, among other facilities.

As for the 'Seven Million Meticais,' Guebuza said its increase will depend on how it is managed by the beneficiaries themselves.

'That's why we always mention the need to repay the borrowed money in order to benefit more people. In fact, the government has already increased the money it allocates to each district", said Guebuza, adding that now "the fund has grown and varies according to the area and number of inhabitants in each district".

Commonly referred to as "the seven million", this Fund began with the allocation of seven million meticais (251,000 US dollars at current exchange rates) from the state budget to each of the districts, to support small projects that would enhance food security and create jobs.

The original idea was that this should be a revolving fund. Beneficiaries would repay the money lent to them, and these repayments would replenish the fund, which would cease to rely exclusively on the central state budget.

But so far repayment levels remain too low.





Maputo, 29 Jun (AIM) - Mozambique's Food and Nutritional Security Technical Secretariat (SETSAN) has lamented that chronic malnutrition remains at an unacceptably high levels, damaging the country's development.

Speaking in Maputo during a seminar to discuss Mozambique's strategy for orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP), SETSAN National Coordinator Marcela Libombo explained that the current rate of poverty in the country stands at 54.7 per cent.

According to Libombo, "we urgently need to find holistic solutions to improve access to food, nutritional education, personal hygiene and sanitation in order to improve the situation".

The seminar was organized by the non-governmental organisation Helen Keller International in partnership with the Mozambican government, through SETSAN, as part of the project Reaching Agents of Change (RAC).

Dercio Matale from RAC explained that the event sought to mobilize at least six million US dollars to encourage the cultivation of OFSP in Mozambique. The sweet potatoes have high quantities of vitamin A.

According to a survey last year, the level of chronic malnutrition in Mozambique stands at 43 per cent, while micronutrient deficiency affects about two thirds of pre-school age children and is one of the causes of infant mortality.

Meanwhile, a study published by SETSAN in 2006 showed that food insecurity affects 36 per cent of the Mozambican population.

"These figures are too high and reflect the cruellest human manifestation of poverty", said Libombo, who supports promoting OFSP as part of a bio-fortification strategy.

According to SETSAN, this is an approach based on foods that can be grown by communities while offering a sustainable, low cost and rapid access to micronutrients.

OFSP was re-launched in the country after the floods of 2000. Since then the National Institute of Agronomic Research (IIAM) has distributed over 300,000 seedlings and approved 18 new varieties.

Participants acknowledged that while Mozambique has a set of policies aimed at improving food security and nutrition, none of them mentions bio-fortification as a viable, low cost and easy dissemination strategy to solve the problem of malnutrition.

In addition, it was agreed that there is a lack of resources to allow the rapid dissemination of OFSP across the country.

In Mozambique, only about 300,000 households grow OFSP, with an annual production estimated at 800,000 tonnes.

According to Matale, it is hoped to persuade another 200,000 families to grow OFSP over the next two years, which would bring the potato's nutritional benefits to 600,000 families.


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By John Hughes

London, 29 Jun (AIM) - The share price of Pathfinder Minerals at the opening of trading on Friday morning fell by almost eighty per cent following its relisting on AIM, the London Stock Exchange's international market for small companies.

Shares had been suspended in November following the resignation of board member General Jacinto Veloso, who accused the company of breach of contract and having "persistent questions raised about corporate governance issues".

Central to the dispute is who owns the licence to mine the heavy mineral sands in Naburi and Moebase, in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia. The two areas cover 32,780 hectares of land.

Results of a scoping study, released in May last year, showed that between them Moebase and Naburi could be expected to produce 1.245 million tonnes of ilmenite (iron titanium oxide), 24,000 tonnes of rutile (the most common form of titanium dioxide) and 65,000 tonnes of zircon (zirconium silicate) a year. These are the same minerals currently being produced by the Irish company Kenmare Resources at its dredge mine in Moma district, in the neighbouring province of Nampula.

The scoping study put estimated annual revenue from Moebase-Naburi at 246.5 million US dollars. This was based on prices of 125 dollars per tonne of ilmenite, 677 dollars per tonne of rutile, and 1,148 dollars a tonne of zircon.

The capital cost of developing the mine was put at 533 million dollars. The study gave the mine an estimated life of 30 years and put the Internal Rate of Return at 18.8 per cent.

On 26 March in a letter to Pathfinder shareholders, Veloso argued that Pathfinder Minerals, through IM Minerals, had failed to take up the option of buying an eighty per cent share in Companhia Mineira de Naburi (CMdN), which owned the licence to the sands. He stated that out of the ten million US dollars agreed for the purchase of the shares, only twenty thousand dollars has been paid. (CMdN was owned by General Veloso and his business partner Diogo Cavaco.)

However, on 30 March, Pathfinder Minerals accused General Veloso of having "diverted the Company's sole assets, namely the mining licences over the Moebase and Naburi sites". It argued that the 9.9 million dollars owed is "not payable until six months after signature of a construction agreement in respect to the Naburi site".

On 28 June, the company explained that multiple legal proceedings are underway in both English and Mozambican courts and a line of communication has been established between Pathfinder and General Veloso.

According to Pathfinder, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague "specifically raised the issue of Pathfinder Minerals at a meeting at 10 Downing Street on 9 May 2012 with the President of Mozambique, Armando Guebuza"

In addition, "the Company has been further assured that the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with responsibility for relations with Mozambique, Henry Bellingham MP, will continue to take a close personal interest in the issue.

The issue of ownership is now due to be heard in the English High Court on 29 October.


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