Swaziland exporting iron through Maputo

Swaziland expects to export a million tonnes of iron ore concentrate a year through the port of Maputo. On Monday, the second day of his official visit to Mozambique, the Swazi monarch, King Mswati III, visited the port and inspected the loading facilities for iron ore.

Since January, when the operations began, Swaziland has exported over 160,000 tonnes of iron concentrate via Maputo to China. “It’s difficult to quantify exactly how many tonnes we’ve already exported”, a manager of the Indian company Salgaocar, in charge of the exports, said. “But each ship takes 55,000 tonnes, and we’re already had three shipments”.

Salgaocar expects the exports of iron to reach a million tonnes by the end of this year.

The iron comes from the re-opening of the Ngwenya mine, which was closed in 1977. Salgaocar received a seven year licence from the Swazi government (which has a 50 per cent stake in the Salgaocar Swaziland subsidiary) to extract iron ore from dumps left surrounding the mine when it shut down. Salgaocar estimates that there are 32.1 million tonnes of iron ore in the dumps.

That, at least, is the figure in Salgaocar’s own environmental impact study. However, Ron Herman, the Chief Executive Office of Salgaocar-Mozambique, said in April that he expected 200 million tonnes of iron ore to be extracted.

It was also reported in April that Salgaocar was the anonymous donor who gave Mswati the gift of a McDonnell Douglas DC9 twin engine jet.

The Salgaocar project is controversial partly because the Ngwenya mine is inside a protected area, and partly because of fears that extracting ore from the dumps will pollute local water supplies.

Post published in: Africa News

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