Mining company to resume operations

The Australian mining company, Argosy Minerals, will resume its operations at its Musongati nickel project, southeastern Burundi, after a two-year suspension, a statement from the organisation said on Tuesday.

The company suspended its operations in April 2000, due to escalating political tension and the resulting deterioration in security in the country at that time, the statement said.

However, over the past year, according to the company, there have been significant political changes in Burundi resulting from the peace initiative introduced by Burundi's peace process facilitator, Nelson Mandela, it said.

"This initiative culminated in the deployment of a South African peacekeeping force in October last year and the establishment of a transitional government in November 2001. These measures have resulted in the easing of political tensions and improved security conditions ahead of ceasefire negotiations," the statement said.

Following the World Mining Ministers Forum held in Toronto, Canada, recently, Argosy management met Burundi's Minister of Energy and Mines and the Director-General of Geology and Mines, the company said. Their discussions focused on the improving political and security climate in Burundi and the means by which the world class Musongati nickel laterite project could be advanced, including addressing infrastructure issues in association with multilateral agencies, it noted.

The Musongati complex lies within what has been referred to as the East African nickel belt, but is more correctly termed as the Kabanga-Musongati Ultramafic Alignment - a recognised metallogenic province hosting nickel and cobalt sulphide mineralisation to the north (Kabanga, Kasese), and platinum mineralisation to the south (Mibango), the statement said.

The complex comprises three distinct areas - Geyuka, Rubara and Buhinda - extending over some 16 square kilometres, an area which is overlaid by a high-grade nickel laterite with an inferred resource of 185 mt grading 1.31 percent nickel, 0.08 percent cobalt and 0.2 percent copper, according to the statement.