MAC: Mines and Communities

Titanium mine incident floods nearby village in Mozambique

Published by MAC on 2010-10-18
Source: Irish Times

In an uncanny replication of last week's red mud disaster in Hungary, a settling pond gave way on October 8th at the Moma wet-dredge titanium mine in Mozambique.

Flood waters coursed into a nearby village, leading to the disappearance - and likely drowning - of a four-year old girl.

Kenmare Resources, Irish owner of the mine, immediately halted output, while its share value plummeted on the London Stock Exchange.

Moma came into full production only a year ago and is the newest of its kind in Africa.

The continent's biggest titanium operation, managed by Rio Tinto in southeastern Madagascar, began delivering in early 2009.

Another proposed mine, on the east coast of Kenya, has been "beached" for the past 15 years, thanks to opposition by local farmers and environmentalists. In September 2009, the Chinese company Jinchuan withdrew its previous offer of funding. See: Tiomin loses Chinese funding for Kwale titanium project

Kenmare shares fall after mining incident

By Barrry O'Halloran

The Irish Times

9 October 2010

KENMARE RESOURCES has stopped production at its Mozambique titanium mine after an incident there flooded part of a nearby village and led to the disappearance of a four-year-old girl.

The Irish mining company's shares plummeted in Dublin and London yesterday following the news. It closed 12.7 per cent off at 19.2 cent, while it shed 18 per cent in London to close at 17.2p.

Kenmare said its priority was the search for the child, finding accommodation for those affected and rehabilitating the parts of the village, Topuito, that were damaged as a consequence of the flood.

A spokesman said only one house in the village was destroyed, but about 40 per cent of the village has been hit, as between six and 12 inches of water flowed through Topuito. About 115 households were affected.

The company's managing director, Michael Carvill, travelled to the mine in Moma and said everything would be done to locate the missing child and support the people affected.

The incident happened during the early hours of yesterday morning. Water backed up in the second of three ponds used to clean sand and clay from which titanium ore is extracted. The retaining wall gave way and a combination of water and mud flowed from the facility into the village, which is about 300m away.

The company uses two dredges to mine at Moma. The titanium ore is extracted from the sand using a concentration plant, and the waste sand and water is then processed through the three settling ponds and re-used.

Kenmare has halted production and was not in a position to say when it would resume operations. The company has a month's worth of stock built up and a spokesman said it anticipated returning to production before that is exhausted.

The company is bringing in experts from South Africa to inspect the site and has also pledged to investigate the incident and to co-operate with any inquiry undertaken by the authorities in Mozambique.

The accident happened less than a month since Kenmare was included in London's benchmark FTSE 250 index, a development that it believed would broaden its shareholder base and help boost its value.

The Moma mine came into full production in the closing months of last year.

The company's efforts to bring it to that point were delayed by problems with a contractor.

Settling Pond Breach at Moma Mine

Kenmare Resources announcement

8 October 2010

At approximately 2am today (Friday, 8th October), a settling pond adjacent to the Moma Mine breached its southern wall. This caused a non-toxic discharge of water, sand and clay that flowed through part of the nearby village of Topuito.

A full scale search is currently underway for a 4 year old girl, who has been missing from the village since the incident.

The priority for Kenmare, the local community and Government is the search for the missing child and moving those people affected by the discharge to other parts of the village and to temporary accommodation provided by Kenmare.

The Kenmare Moma Incident Management Team was immediately mobilised by Jacob Deysel, Kenmare Operations Director, who is at the Moma Mine. The Kenmare team, local community and Government officials are working together to locate the missing child, make the area safe, assist with evacuation of the affected population and assess any possible injuries or damage caused. It is believed that approximately 115 households have been impacted by the flow of water, sand and clay.

Mining operations have been suspended for the moment and restoration work has already commenced at the village of Topuito.

Mining at Moma is undertaken using two dredges and a floating concentrator plant. Once the minerals are extracted, sand and clay tailings are deposited behind the plant through a series of settling ponds. A containment wall on one of these settling ponds failed during the early hours of the morning.

Kenmare has always regarded the health and safety of the community and its employees as its highest priority and is treating this incident with the utmost seriousness.

Managing Director, Michael Carvill, is en route to Moma and will arrive there later today. Speaking en route to Moma, Michael Carvill said: "Everything will be done to locate the missing child and to relocate and support the individuals affected by the incident. Kenmare will fully investigate the incident and will also co-operate with the authorities in this regard."

A full assessment is in progress and updates will be issued as new information becomes available.

For further information, please contact:

Kenmare Resources plc
Tony McCluskey, Financial Director
Tel: +353 1 6710411
Mob: + 353 87 674 0346

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