Libreville, Gabon — MININGREVIEW.COM — 11 January 2010 – French metals firm Eramet has announced that it intends spending almost US$300 million (R2.25 billion) in Gabon to build a manganese plant, and intends employing at least 1 000 people in the new venture.
This was revealed here in a joint statement between the company and the Gabonese government.
Bloomberg News reports that Gabon’s President Ali Ben Bongo, who won disputed elections last August, has made the diversification of the country’s oil-reliant economy a policy priority as reserves begin to run down. Manganese and timber are Gabon’s other major natural resources.
The Moanda plant “’ to be situated around 400 km east of the capital, Libreville “’ will produce 20 000 tonnes per year of manganese metal, and 65 000 tonnes per year of silico-manganese, an alloy used in steel.
“During the construction phase, 1 000 people will work for three or four years,” prime minister Paul Mba said at a signing ceremony with the firm.
“It’s a major US$286 million (R2.15 billion) undertaking, and is an important development project for Gabon,” said Marcel Abeke, managing director of Comilog “’ Eramet’s 67%-owned Gabonese subsidiary.
Former President Omar Bongo, the new head of state’s father, laid the first stone at Moanda last April, but work stalled after his death and the election that followed.