Chinese-owned company Sociedade Niobonga – Comércio Geral is set to start to exploit 19 million tonne reserves of Niobium, a rare mineral used in manufacture of spaceships, missiles and turbines.
José Grande, deputy director of Niobonga said the company, that holds the exploration rights, invested around USD 100 million two years ago to start exploration work in Huíla province.
The project in southwestern Angola is expected to generate around 500 jobs, according to Grande. 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 USD 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.