Dam bursts at Mozambique mineral mine

2010-10-11 15:56

Maputo - A four-year-old girl is missing after a dam burst at a mineral mine in Mozambique, flooding an area housing 3 000 families, the company said Monday.

Irish mining firm Kenmare Resources said a settling pond breached its wall at the company's Moma titanium and zircon mine in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula on Friday, flooding the area with a mixture of water, sand and clay.

Three people were critically injured in the flood and 115 homes destroyed, the online daily Mediafax reported. Six hundred rescue workers have been dispatched to manage the disaster, it said.

The four-year-old girl has been missing from the village of Topuito since the breach, Kenmare said.

Financial director Tony McCluskey said Monday the company has broadened its search for her.

"That for us is the dominant issue, together with ensuring that the affected community is taken care of," he told AFP.

McCluskey said displaced families are staying with relatives in Topuito or living in a nearby tent city set up by the company.

Heavy minerals

The company, which pledged to conduct a full investigation of the accident, said it has closed the breach and suspended operations at the mine.

The dam was part of a filtration system that separates heavy mineral sands from material dredged at the mine's artificial pond, extracting the valuable industrial minerals titanium and zircon.

Mozambique's government has been keen to lure international investors to mine its heavy mineral sands deposits, but has seen only limited revenue so far.

The country's share in revenues from the Moma mine totalled about $194 000 in the first four months of 2010, according to government news agency AIM.

A second potential mining project at Chibuto, in the southern province of Gaza, fell through last year when mining giant BHP Billiton pulled out of the venture, saying it did not have the technology to make it viable.

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