By Yankuba Jallow

Honourable Halifa Sallah, the National Assembly Member for Serrekunda Constituency has asked the Minister of Petroleum and Energy about the quality of Ilmenite, Rutile and Zircon minerals, the quantity being mined per month, and the current price per ton in the world market. Sallah also asked about the sum Government aims to accrue from any payment into Government coffers by the company.

The government has issued a licence to he China, Angola and Gambia Company (GACH) to harness these minerals. These are found at Batokunku, Sanyang and Kartong.

In his response, Minister Fafa Sanyang said the heavy mineral deposits notably ILMENITE, RUTILE and ZIRCON which are called Heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) are mainly found in the three locations of Batokunku, Sanyang and Kartong.

“These heavy mineral deposits have been mined sporadically from the 1950s until November 2016. The total reserves of heavy minerals, as at 2004, were estimated at 682,200 metric tons with a 3% cut-off grade. After several years of mining, the total remaining deposits in all three locations are estimated at 438 778 metric tons,” Minister Sanyang detailed.

He said in October 2017, a mining licence was granted to a Gambian registered mining company, GACH (Gambia Angola China Company) to harness these heavy minerals.

“The agreed royalty was 60% to Government and 40% to GACH, derived from the net profit of the mineral sale. GACH is however yet to start their mining operations as the company is still in the process of equipment mobilization. GACH has so far exported 4,376 metric tons derived from the APAM heavy mineral stockpile. This export by GACH has accrued a payment of US$205,672 to Government as per our share of the profit generated. The current world market price for HMC (non-separatedore) is US$150 per metric ton based on ilmenite price which forms more than 70% of the concentrate” the Minister explained.

Minister Sanyang said The Gambia Minerals Ltd which was a subsidiary of British Titan Products Company) used to mine a total of 60,000 metric tons between 1956-1959; Carnegie Minerals Gambia 43,415 tons from December 2005- February 2018; and GAMICO Co. Ltd 5,649 tons from August 2015- November 2016.

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