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Burundi
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Although the center of civil wars (and resultant sanctions by Tanzania and Uganda) in the Great Lakes region, Burundi has great mineral potential, in particular, lateritic nickel deposits.

Burundi is a producer of columbium (niobium) and tantalum ore, tin ore and tungsten ore, and some deposits of gold which are designated for export. Burundi has resources of copper, cobalt, nickel, feldspar, phosphate rock, quartzite, and rare reserves of uranium, and vanadium. The country is also a producer of limestone, peat, sand and gravel for domestic consumption and as building materials. As of 2005, manufacturing accounted for 8% of the country's gross domestic product.

Small quantities of tungsten and tin but only account for 3% of Burundi's total mineral production according to the Burundi Ministry of Energy and Mines. The Office National de la Tourbe, a branch of the government, is responsible for peat production which is extracted notably in the Akanyara Valley near Buyongwe. In 2005, un-mined resources of peat were stated by the Burundian government to total around 36 million metric tons.

However Burundi has no resources of coal, natural gas, or petroleum meaning that electricity production in the country was very problematic. Hydroelectric power stations now account for most of the country’s electricity production as they do not have the natural reserves to produce it.

Gold

National gold production increased to 3,905 kg in 2005 from 3,229 kg in 2004 increasing dramatically from just 415 kg in 2001 because of higher gold prices. Gold reportedly accounted for more than 90% of the value of Burundi’s total mineral production in 2005. Machanga Ltd. of Uganda and more recently the Burundi Mining Corporation were responsible for mining much of the country's primary gold reserves which are concentrated in Muyinga Province in the north-east of the country.

The Burundi Mining Company (Buminco) is a joint venture between the state and local private individuals and has mining title to most of the primary gold occurrences in Burundi. These occurrences are concentrated in the Muyinga region in the northeastern part of the country.

Columbium, Niobium & Tantalum

Columbium (niobium) and tantalum were mined by Asyst Mines, Comptoirs Miniers de Burundi S.A., Hamza, and Habonimana but the production of columbite-tantalite ore decreased considerably to 23,356 kg in 2004 from 72,441 kg in 2002 because low world market prices saw a slump in the demand for tantalum oxide in 2004. In 2005, production increased to 42,592 kg and has continued to rise again and columbite-tantalite production accounted for 5% of the value of Burundi’s mineral production as of 2005. An Australian company AuArgosy Minerals Incorporated was proposing to develop mines in the country but has had its Mining Convention and licenses suspended by the government due to failure to meet commitments.

Nickel & Cobalt

Burundi's total laterite nickel resources evaluated to date are in excess of 250 Mt with metal content averaging 1.38% Ni, 0.07% Co and 0.12% Cu, most of which occur in the Musongati deposit.

Australian company Argosy Minerals owns 100% of the Musongati Nickel Project in Burundi through its subsidiary, Andover Resources NL. Andover Resources has negotiated a comprehensive Mining Convention with the Burundian government. This agreement outlines issues such as taxation, including a five year tax holiday.

Included in the deal with the Burundi government, Argosy also has rights to two other potential lateritic nickel projects in Burundi: the Nyabikere and Waga deposits which have combined inferred resources of 81.4Mt grading at 1.39% nickel and 0.034% cobalt.

Anglo American is investigating the Miremera and Rutovu nickel sulphide prospects.

Mineral Law & Legislation

The Burundi Ministry of Energy and Mines is responsible for monitoring Mining in Burundi.

Major Players in the Industry

  • The Burundi Mining Company (Buminco)
  • Machanga Ltd. of Uganda
  • Argosy Minerals

Key Figures

  • Gold production: 3,900 kilograms (2006)
  • Niobium & Tantalum production: 43 metric tons (2006)
  • Peat production: 4,900 metric tons (2006)
  • Tin production: 10 metric tons (2005)
  • Tungsten production: 100 metric tons (2006)

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