High grade iron ore discovered in Blantyre

Blantyre: Britannia (Malawi) Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Britannia Mining Plc of the United Kingdom, has completed a magnetic survey which has found high grade iron ore deposits at Nthale, 22 kilometres north of Blantyre City.

Iron ores are rocks and minerals from which metallic iron can be economically extracted, and the ores are usually rich in iron oxides and vary in colour from dark grey, bright yellow, deep purple to rusty red.

This is good news for Malawi because on the global market, the price of iron ore has hit an all-time high as supply disruption in India, the world’s third-largest exporter of the steel-making commodity, has tightened the market.

Indian ore, with 63.5 percent iron content, was quoted at around $188 (K28 576) a tonne, including freight, in China as of Tuesday, according to Chinese consultancy Mysteel.

Britannia, which was awarded a prospecting mining licence in 2009 by the government of Malawi, has indicated on its website that drilling for the ore already started in October with an initial investment of more than $100 million (K15.2 billion) for the work.

‘The magnetic survey, taken over an area of 650 sq kilometres, maps the Nthale Project area and shows significant ore bodies beneath surface and also above-ground outcrop mineralisation.

‘Nthale iron ore is a high grade 68 percent Fe ore, suitable as an input for direct reduction pellets and samples of Nthale iron ore have been tested by two regional manufacturers of pellets,’ said the company, adding that Nthale iron ore is confirmed as suitable for long-term supply to steel plants.

According to the company, Nthale iron ore deposits rise 40 metres above the Chileka plain and are located seven kilometres from the nearest railway station at Lirangwe.

The company says it holds a portfolio of extensive mineral rights and is committed to undertaking in projects that meet the company’s vision to become the premier iron ore miner in Malawi.

Britannia says transport links at Nthale is good with road and rail connecting to a number of ports in neighbouring Mozambique where vessels can load cargo for export across the Indian Ocean.

A study commissioned by Britannia Malawi early last year found that the regional geophysical and magnetic signature at Nthale is extremely encouraging with evidence detailing historical sampling during the 1960s confirming that the area bears a high-grade ore in excess of 68 percent.

The company is also doing some exploration works for coal at Mphwamphwa in Mzimba and Ngana in Karonga in northern Malawi.

According to the World Bank’s review of the country’s mining sector, Malawi’s mining prospects are expected to jump to $500 million (K76 billion) from the current $100 (K15.2 billion) between now and 2018.

Currently, the mining sector contributes about three percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and projections are that the industry will contribute up to 20 percent by 2011, said the World Bank.

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  • 4 Mar, 2011
  • RichardH

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