Copper export banned

Geza Ulole

Geza Ulole

JF-Expert Member
Oct 31, 2009
Geza Ulole

Geza Ulole

JF-Expert Member
Joined Oct 31, 2009
16,591 8,897 280

Published on: Fri, 01/29/2010 - 8:02pm


Will Copper be smelted here?

The Express Reporter

COPPER Industry stakeholders in Tanzania are in great suspense awaiting an official announcement by the government banning the exportation of copper ore, The Express reveals today.
The decision, which was issued January 6 this year according to our sources, and which is yet to be gazetted according to our information, can be either a blessing or a curse depending on how a trader is positioned to capitalize on the new arrangement.
Despite the notice not appearing, The Express can reveal that a letter to that effect from the Ministry of Energy and Minerals has been circulated to various offices and implementation has started. This paper is informed that those with copper ore at the Dar es Salaam port have been given three months to clear the consignment, with fresh copper cargo coming to the harbour prohibited forthwith.
The Express has been told by some stakeholders that the present situation in this country concerning the copper industry needs revolutionary economical changes, since the copper content of the exported copper is very high compared with the content in the large portion of what has been excavated.
The exported copper ore is required to be of thirty to forty percent and above copper content, which is very rare not only in Tanzania but also in other countries, even in those high copper producing countries Zambia and DRC.
This means taking approximately six months or more to produce only about three to four tonnes of such copper ore, while the normal mining is about ten tonnes or more in only seven days, where only three to four tonnes is needed and the other is wasted.
If the smelting is done properly the wasted part will be used and be able to enter the market together with the ore of high quality.
Musa Ally is director general of the Ngosha Blacksmith company in Tanzania, a local manufacturer of the copper ore smelting furnaces, who said the situation may be an advantage to Tanzanian copper stakeholders but depending on the strategy adopted by the government, which may be harmful or helpful.
“I think this situation may be a problem to some extent, but if proper plans are made by the government it will be a great opportunity for copper stakeholders to take off, because it can double their profits from the raw material”, said Ally.
Ngosha Blacksmith’s furnace machines for smelting copper ore and other related materials are in various sizes and are cheaper than imported versions. “We are now making a very big machine with capacity to smelt about four hundred tonnes in only ten hours, a machine which can cost about a hundred million Tshs, which I think will be beyond the reach of the majority of local smelters to afford, but it can be an asset to foreign investors”, he said.
According to Ally, the manufacture of a normal furnace with a capacity of thirty tonnes takes about thirty days, while the big one takes two to three months to complete. He further noted that all the smelters are made according to a standard design.
In the words of Ngosha Blacksmith’s managing director Haruna Swalehe, if the decision to ban copper ore exports is aiming to help indigenous copper stakeholders in this country it is a big step in the right direction, because keeping copper ore here is of benefit both to local miners and local furnace makers, “But we cannot know if it is an advantage to us until we understand the main plan, because if we cannot be empowered it will be like nothing”, said Swalehe, by which I suppose he wants financial support from the government. He asserted: “We don’t care about the competition because we have the ability to produce competitive machines; we have our skills and technology, if we are empowered we can do wonders”.
Abel Titus is a local miner and a copper ore business man from Mpwapwa, in Dodoma region, who told The Express that they are making a loss because they spend about six months mining about one half to one tonne of copper ore which is required for export, which has thirty to forty percent copper content. At the same time they are excavating twenty to twenty-five tonnes a month of which the largest portion is said to be below export quality. “We are making losses in thousands of tonnes, maybe with this new government process we can realize a good profit, because our copper will be being smelted here in Tanzania”, surmised Titus.
The notice is expected to gazetted by the government to correct a state of affairs where almost all produced copper ore in Tanzania is exported abroad, and it is said that the benefit goes to the exporters while local miners and local traders are gaining nothing.
Copper ore is said to be a substance containing only a small percentage of copper metal bound up within valuable minerals, with the remainder of the ore being unwanted rock or minerals, typically silicate minerals or oxide minerals in which there is often no value.
The average grade of copper ores is below 0.6 percent, with the proportion of ore minerals being less than 2 percent of the total volume of the ore rock. A key objective in the metallurgical treatment of any ore is the separation of ore minerals from gangue minerals within the rock.
The first stage of any process within a metallurgical treatment circuit is comminuting, where the rock particles are reduced in size, such that ore particles can be efficiently separated from gangue particles, thereafter followed by a process of physical liberation of the ore minerals from the rock. The process of liberation of copper ores depends upon whether they are oxide or sulfide ores.
According to our sources, the government move is meant to intervene in the copper industry and save the country from foreign exploitation. It has been established that copper ore contains many other minerals, some of which are incredibly valuable.
The Express is informed the ore contains Manganese, Silicon, Sulphur, Potassium, Calcium, Titanium, Cromium, Zinc, Iron, Nickel and Lead. This paper is informed that some businessman has been exporting copper ore simply to extract from it Nickel and Titanium, which are very valuable and rare metals.
As a result, on the one hand the government has been losing tax, which would have been paid on the exported minerals. On the other hand, local sellers of copper ore lose a lot of money, because they sell only the copper and not the other minerals which go along with it.

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