Burkina Faso manganese export license ban lifted

Burkina Faso manganese export license ban lifted

Burkina Faso has lifted a suspension of mining company Pan African Minerals' manganese exploration licence, which was imposed in March.

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Burkina Faso has lifted a suspension of mining company Pan African Minerals’ export licence, which was imposed in March.

The transitional government had withdrawn the license because the company had violated the terms of its exploitation permit, which included paving a road and constructing a railroad to its Tambao mine. The company is seeking compensation for the suspension from the government.

The suspension by the Ministry of Mining and Energy of a major mining contract with Pan African Minerals at Tambao came after a large-scale protest of local people, who said the company had failed to fulfill its promise to employ locals and to involve community into mine exploration process. Youth United for Markoye Development (JUDECOM) led the protest.

Pan African Minerals said that the suspension was illegal and demanded compensation for losses of income incurred becaues of the suspension. According to PAM, a ton of manganese cost $500 at the time of the first feasibility study to see if the mine would be profitable. After the suspension, a price had dropped to $250 a ton, and nine months later due to the demand for commodities slowing as a result of China’s economic slowdown, it stands at $125 a ton.

Burkina Faso, a small land-locked country in West Africa, struggles to develop its manganese resources. It is believed that the country has the regions largest manganese deposit, estimated at 20 million tons at 52% to 53% Manganese to ore, making it one of the cryptomelane-richest ore resources in the world. However, the site’s inaccessibility and lack of infrastructure have prevented wide scale exploitation.

In 2014, Pan African Minerals received green light from the government of Burkina Faso and launched a $1 billion project to develop the Tambao manganese mine. Pan African Minerals owns 90% of the Tambao mine with the government owning the remaining 10%. Based on preliminary estimations, the mine should contain around 100 million tons of manganese. If the estimation is correct, it would be the biggest manganese mine in the world.

Image source: AFP

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