What are the most important mandate areas of INAMI?
INAMI was established in 2014 as a regulatory body with financial autonomy for the mining sector with the passing of a new law concerning mines. INAMI now manages all areas of the sector under the same roof, from exploration to licensing and governance —areas that were previously under the directive of different ministerial bodies. Since the start of activities, our main ongoing concern has been modernizing the mining licensing process through digitalization. By the end of 2019, we introduced the latest update to the system. The end goal is to improve interaction between all interested parties by transforming analog paperwork into a digitalized process. Our next step, to ensure cyber-security, will be to transfer all data onto a government-controlled cloud. Through our portal, all information regarding licensing has become visible to everyone anywhere in the world, ensuring the maximum level of efficiency. Another priority area of our mandate is geological research through publishing reliable geological information about the country and delivering it to the public. Since 2007, the government has embarked on a concerted effort to thoroughly map the whole country on a 1:250,000 scale; so far, INAMI has executed the airborne geophysical survey of 75% of the national territory. INAMI has also mapped in higher detail the mineral-rich provinces of Niassa, Cabo Delgado Tete, and Manica, on a 1:50,000 scale. In 2015, INAMI started mapping a 950,000-sqkm area between the provinces of Nampula and Zambezia potentially filled with mineral resources. In 2019, we started producing 25 maps of this area on 1:50,000 scale and five maps on 1:250,000 scale. We have already finished 10, and we expect the remaining 15 to be ready by 2021.
What is Mozambique's record with transparency in the sector?
Mozambique is making significant progress in transparency, and our online portal is an example of this process. We are walking towards the goal of being Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)-compliant by the agreed deadline. The biggest remaining challenge concerns deadlines for mining titles and licensing. The process is now fully in place, and companies operating in the field must be informed on ongoing procedures.
What are the main opportunities in the mining sector?
Mozambique is a rich country in terms of mineral resources, with countless opportunities for investment. We have mineral resources for energy production, coal, natural gas, and uranium. Beyond these, there are precious metals, gold, silver, iron, magnesium, chromium, titanium, copper, aluminum, cobalt, nickel, and rare metals such as niobium. In 2016, we granted about 1,400 licenses; today, we have granted 2,000 licenses. Opportunities are growing, and so is the interest of international investors in the field.
With Vale's operations currently scaled down, do you think the coal industry in Mozambique is eventually destined to phase out?
I do not think so, as the prices of mineral resources are highly volatile and reflect shifts in demand. Despite a general decrease of the price of raw materials on the international market in the last couple years, the demand for coal is still high in countries with high energy demands, such as India. This has happened all the more so through the recent introduction of “clean coal” on the market, a treated type of coal that pollutes very little. We might even see an increase in the demand in coal.
What are INAMI's objectives for 2020?
We are working alongside the National Institute of Statistics (INE) to establish a census of small-scale artisanal miners to understand where they are, who they are, and what they do. This is pivotal information we do not possess yet. We will also continue the process of geologically mapping the country; we want to finish five maps made on a 1:250,000 scale by the end of 2020. We will also follow up with companies in order to make sure processes and production starts within the established deadlines.