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Burundi has exploitable nickel reserves

Central Bujumbura –
capital city of
Bujumbura, Burundi — MININGREVIEW.COM — 09 October 2008 – The government of the central African state of Burundi has revealed that it has 4.2 million tonnes in nickel reserves, which could be expected to allow for exploitation over a minimum of half a century.

Reuters reports from here that mines and energy minister Samuel Ndayiragije told the news agency in an interview that mining of the metal could not start for five years, however, due to insufficient energy. “After that,” he added, “research studies showed that our nickel could be exploited over a period of 50 years or more.”

The minister explained that the central African government needed between US$300 (R2.4 billion) and US$400 million (R3.2 billion) to build a 60 megawatt-capacity hydro-electric dam to power nickel exploitation. That was nearly double national capacity of 32.5 MW.

Reuters reports that the government of Burundi has already presented the energy project to World Bank and African Development Bank. “Nickel research and exploitation is not an easy task, and it takes a long time,” the minister said. “This is the reason why we need support from donors.”

The news agency says Burundi has three nickel deposits in the southeast and central parts of the country. The authorities have issued six research permits to multinational miners.

Officials say nickel resources could transform Burundi’s economy, which now relies mostly on coffee and tea exports.