In 2009, Burundi’s production of gold, limestone, niobium (columbium) and tantalum ore and concentrate, peat, sand and gravel, tin ore, and tungsten ore was not significant in global terms. Burundi was not a globally significant consumer of minerals. Manufacturing, mining, and energy accounted for nearly 11% of Burundi’s gross domestic product in 2008 (the latest year for which data were available) (Banque de la République du Burundi, 2009).
Mineral production was estimated to have remained nearly unchanged in 2009. In 2008, tantalum production increased by 79%; niobium, 64%; tungsten, 35%; and peat, 30%. Tin output also increased sharply.
Structure of the Mineral Industry
Privately owned Comptoir Minier des Exploitations du Burundi S.A. (COMEBU) and artisanal miners produced Burundi’s gold, niobium, tantalum, tin, and tungsten. State-owned Office National de la Tourbe was the country’s only producer of peat.
Cobalt, Copper, and Nickel
Nyota Minerals Ltd. of Australia (formerly Dwyka Resources Ltd.) and BHP Billiton Ltd. of Australia engaged in exploration at Nyota’s Muremera nickel project in northeast Burundi. BHP Billiton withdrew from Muremera in March. Nyota planned to spend a total of $2 million on exploration in 2010 and 2011 (Winter, 2010).
In June 2007, the Government cancelled the license for the Musongati, the Nyabikere, and the Waga nickel-cobalt-copper deposits held by Argosy Minerals Inc. of Australia. Argosy filed complaints with the International Court of Arbitration in France in an attempt to regain control of the deposits. In March 2009, Argosy decided to withdraw from arbitration after the Government reportedly awarded Musongati to a Chinese company. In December, the licenses to Musongati, Nyabikere, and Waga were reportedly awarded to Samancor Chrome Ltd. of South Africa (Africa Mining Intelligence, 2009).
Gold and Vanadium
International Gold Exploration AB (IGE) of Sweden suspended exploration at the Butara gold deposit and the Mukanda vanadium deposit at the beginning of 2009 because of the worldwide economic crisis. At the end of the second quarter, IGE returned its licenses to the Government (International Gold Exploration AB, 2009, 2009).
In October, the Government awarded exploration licenses for Blocks A, B, and C on Lake Tanganyika to Terra Seis International of Canada, Surestream Petroleum Ltd. of the United Kingdom, and South African Mineral Resources Corp. of South Africa, respectively. Surestream also held Block D (Africa Energy Intelligence, 2009).
In July 2008, the Government awarded IGE an exploration license for the Musigati area in northwest Burundi. The company suspended exploration at the beginning of 2009 because of the worldwide economic crisis and returned its license to the Government at the end of the second quarter (International Gold Exploration AB, 2009, 2009).
Source: United States Geological Survey