We abide by new laws, says graphite mining firm

Walkabout Resources Ltd becomes the first company to have been granted a mining licence by the government since the sweeping amendments of the mining laws which sought to make sure the country benefits from the extractives industry.

Lindi Jumbo Graphite Project geologist Rikard Taljaar speaks during an interview. PHOTO|SAID KHAMIS 
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INTERVIEW. Walkabout Resources Ltd becomes the first company to have been granted a mining licence by the government since the sweeping amendments of the mining laws which sought to make sure the country benefits from the extractives industry.

The Australian Stock Exchange-registered company is currently developing the high-grade Lindi Jumbo Graphite Project. BusinessWeek Reporter Khalifa Said interviewed Walkabout geologist Rikard Taljaar

What is a brief description of the project?

The Lindi Jumbo Graphite Project is situated in south-eastern Tanzania, approximately 200km from the port of Mtwara.

The company has taken the project from discovery in October 2015 to the completion of a highly robust Definitive Feasibility Study within 16 months and has recently been the first company to receive a mining license under the new Tanzanian Mining regulations.

The very high grade and exceptional distribution of large graphite flakes within the Lindi Jumbo Project area provides significant competitive advantage in capital and operating cost reduction and also in metallurgical performance through the potential production of a sought after, premium natural graphite flake product.

The company is fast-tracking the development of this project to capitalise on the predicted high demand for premium flake concentrate.

What is the estimate of the mining reserve in the area of your licence?

Walkabout declared a global mineral resource of 29.8 million tonnes (Mt) at an estimated grade of 10.9 per cent Total Graphitic Carbon (TGC) and is reported in accordance to the 2012 JORC code. The high grade Measured, Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource contains a super high-grade core of 4.7 million tonnes at 22.8% TGC for 1,076,500 tonnes of contained graphite making this the highest mineable graphite resource in Tanzania. The Proven and Probable Ore Reserve of 5 Mt @ 16.1 per cent TGC is based on 42 per cent of the Measured and Indicated Resource only with the mining plan utilising high grade (>17 per cent TGC) plant feed in the first three years and +16 per cent TGC over the Life of Mine (LOM). The Ore Reserve has resulted in a Life of Mine of approximately 20 years to produce 40,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate per annum. The LOM can possibly be extended through upgrading of the high grade portions of the Inferred Resource of the deposit or treatment of the lower grade stockpiles (16 per cent TGC).

Why did you choose Tanzania?

The small but experienced Lindi Jumbo team of technicians, geologists and directors have vast amounts of experience and knowledge about Tanzania. So this combined with the strong, reputable and long-standing mining industry of Tanzania has made the mineral-rich Tanzania an attractive investing destination.

What is the lifespan of the project?

The ore reserve has resulted in a life of mine of approximately 20 years to produce 40,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate per annum. The LOM can possibly be extended through upgrading of the high grade portions of the Inferred Resource of the deposit or treatment of the lower grade stockpiles (16 per cent TGC).

Are you aware of the recent sweeping amendments in mining laws? What’s your opinion about them?

Yes, we are well aware of the new laws. We have accepted all the new laws and are fully compliant with them. We have engaged with the Prime Minster, Minister of Minerals, Commissioner of Minerals and the newly formed Mining Commission to fully understand the new regulations put in place.

We have had incredible positive discussions with these parties, not only in working on the new mining regulations, but also the new local content plans. We understand that this is all very new for everyone, and the Minerals ministry has given us encouraging re-assurance that we will work together on this drive of perfecting and adhering to the new mining regulations and local content plan.

Are roads, electricity and running water sufficient at your mining site?

At the moment it is still just remote bush and farmlands. We are 15km from the Town of Ruangwa, Lindi. We are busy with the valuation process. Once this has been completed and compensation has been paid, construction of the processing plant on the mine site will begin.

This will take between 9-12 months before we can start producing graphite concentrate. This week I have been on site with our Lindi Jumbo team, engineers and the other contractors to finalise our designs and mine development plans. So we are moving at a rapid pace to kick-start this project.

How much money will be injected into Tanzania throughout the project?

The injection of foreign funds into Tanzania will include the following: 16 per cent free carry share that the government has in the project, royalties ($21.5 million), taxes ($131.5 million), Tanzanian government dividends ($51.5 million) salaries, and Tanzanian contractors.

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