By: Kebba AF Touray
The Minister for Petroleum and Energy Fafa Sanyang, told Lawmakers that total reserve of heavy minerals as at 2004, was estimated at 682,200 metric tons, with 3 percent cut-off grade. Minister Sanyang disclosed this yesterday while responding to a question raised by the National Assembly Member for Serrekunda Halifa Sallah. Halifa asked the Minister to indicate the quantity of mineral deposits at the sites; the quantity that is mined per month; the price of the minerals per ton in the world market at the time of answering the question, and the sum Government aims to accrue from any payment into its coffers by Companies.
Minister Sanyang in response to Halifa’s questions said heavy mineral deposits notably Ilmenite, Rutile and Zircon which is called Heavy Mineral Concentrates (HMC), is mainly found in Batokunku, Sanyang and Kartong; that these were sporadically mined from the 1950s until November 2016. “After several years of mining, the total remaining deposits in all three locations is estimated at 438,778 metric tons,” he told deputies.
Sanyang further responded that in October 2017, a mining Licence was granted to a Gambian registered mining Company called GACH, on an agreed royalty of 60 percent to Government, from net profits derived from the mineral sales; that GACH is yet to start their mining operations because the Company is still in the process of acquiring equipment.
“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 profits generated. The current world market price for HMC ore is US$150 per metric ton, based on the Ilmenite price, which forms more than 70 percent of the concentrate,” Minister Sanyang said.
The Petroleum Minister further told deputies that Gambia Minerals Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of British Titan Products Company, mined a total of 60,000 metric tons between 1965-1959, Carnegie Minerals mined 43,415 tons from December 2005 to February 2008, GAMICO Co Ltd mined 189,982 tons from April 2008-August 2015 and APAM Co Ltd mined 2016 5,649 tons from August 2015 to November 2017.
On the criteria used in issuing license to these Companies especially GACH, was the question raised by the Member for Badibbu Central Sulayman Saho. Petroleum Minister Sanyang responded that licenses are issued in accordance with the Mineral Laws and other assessments, terms and conditions, to issue licenses, upon the satisfaction of the issuing authority.
Matarr Jeng, the Member for Lower Nuimi asked how Government ensures the monitoring of the mining process. Minister Sanyang responded that Government through the Department of Geology, the National Environment Agency and Finance Ministry, is responsible for monitoring the mining process that falls under the purview of these respective Government departments and Ministry.
Responding to the question raised by the Member for Wuli East Suwaibu Touray on the natural resources exploitation earmarked by the Geology department in potential sites in his Constituency, Minister Sanyang disclosed that the mineral resources identified in URR is ‘Kaloni’ clay deposits in Kundam and Fatoto, which is estimated at three million tons.