Burundi to start nickel production next year
Bujumbura, July 05, 2011_Burundi plans to start nickel production next year more than 35 years after first discovering the stainless steel making ingredient as the country addresses a lack of power and transport infrastructure.
Mr Evelio Mushimantwari DG of the department of geology and mines said that feasibility studies, carried out by the closely held South African company Burundi Mining Metallurgy International are almost finished and mining work is expected to begin early next year.
According to a report by the African Development Bank, the Central African nation about the same size as the US state of Maryland has about 285 million tonnes of nickel reserves. Exploitation of the metal, discovered in 1974 has been hindered by a lack of infrastructure following civil war in the mid 1990s that halted development and limited economic growth. The deposit is Burundi's largest with reserves of about 180 million tonnes making it one of the world's ten largest undeveloped resources.
Mr Mushimantwari said that first nickel output will start at Musongati, in Burundi's southeast province of Rutana. The country plans to eventually produce about 2 million tonnes of nickel ore a year. The government has secured 50 MW of power to start production and it plans to source as much as 100 MW more as metal output increases.
Mr Didace Birabasha permanent secretary at the Ministry of Minerals and Energy said that Burundi's nickel ore reserves stretch from the south to the northeast of the country.
Mr Jakaya Kikwete president of Tanzania said that the landlocked nation plans to build USD 3.5 billion railway with Tanzania and Rwanda to boost investment into the region.