Aproject to mine niobium – one of the world’s rarest and most valuable minerals – in southwestern Angola is expected to generate around 500 jobs, according to José Grande, deputy director of Sociedade Niobonga – Comércio Geral, the Chinese-owned company that holds the exploration rights.
Niobonga invested around US$100 million two years ago to start exploration work in Huíla province.
In the initial phase of prospecting, around 200 direct jobs were created and residences were built for 499 workers’ families.
The niobium reserve, which is spread over an area of 443.53 square kilometres, is estimated at around 19 million tonnes. At current prices, niobium sells for US$45,000 per tonne.
Angola exports niobium mostly to China.
The area has other mineral resources such as diamonds, quartz and gold, among others, already identified in geological maps of Angola.
Niobium is one of the rarest minerals in the world, used for the manufacture of turbines, spaceships, aeroplanes, missiles and power plants as well as for the production of steel alloys of superconductors.