Mozambique is a country in Southeast Africa bordering the Indian Ocean to the west. It is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Zambia, and Malawi to the northwest, South Africa and Swaziland to the southwest, and Zimbabwe to the west. The Mozambique Channel separates it from Madagascar, Comoros, and Mayotte. Maputo is the country’s capital while the largest city is Matola. Mozambique covers a total area of approximately 801,590 square miles, making it the 35th most extensive country in the world. As of 2016, the country has a population of about 28.8 million inhabitants, making it the world's 50th most populated country. The majority of the population (97%) are Bantus.
Economy And Overview Of The Natural Resources
Mozambique is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world. Since 1987, the government has been carrying out microeconomic reforms in a bid to stabilize the economy. These reforms, together with donor assistance have led to significant economic growth. In spite of the gains made, Mozambique still relies on foreign assistance for much of its annual budget. The majority of the population lives below the poverty line. Subsistence agriculture remains the major employer of the country’s workforce. Mozambique has rich and extensive natural resources that have remained largely unexploited. The country’s principal natural resources are natural gas, coal, mineral, sand, hydropower, and most likely oil. The key metallic resources are iron ore and tantalite of which the country may be having the largest deposit in the world. Gold, graphite, bentonite, and limestone are also mined and quarried. Below are the major natural resources of Mozambique:
Hydropower is a renewable resource that is mainly used in the generation of electricity. In Mozambique, hydropower has always and still is the main source of electricity generation, with an estimated potential of 12,500 megawatts (among the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa). However, only 2,000 MW is currently being explored almost exclusively through the Cahora Bassa hydro dam. 80% of the hydropower potential is located in the Zambezi Valley. Mozambique has 13 river basins all of which have great potential for grid expansion and development of off-grid population centers. Currently, the national grid is supplied by 6 hydropower plants, namely Cahora Bassa, Chicamba, Cuamba, Corumana, Lichiga, and Mavuzi. In 2015, the rate of electrification in Mozambique was 39%. However, about 15% of the population lacked electricity. The country remains the net exporter of electricity to the member countries of the South African Development Community. Approximately 70% of the electricity generated at Cahora Bassa hydro dam is exported, a major source of revenue.
The discovery of natural gas in Mozambique about a decade ago created hope for economic development and improved standards of living. With proven reserves of about 100 trillion cubic feet, the country ranks 12th among the countries with proven natural gas reserves. Most of the discovered gas reserves are located in the Rovuma Basin in the Cabo Delgado state. The basin is located next to the Tanzania-Mozambique border. In 2010/2011 a recoverable reserve of about 150 trillion cubic feet was discovered in the area. The exploration was conducted jointly by America’s Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Italy’s Eni Company. The extraction and liquefaction were launched in 2018 and Mozambique is set to become one of the largest liquefied natural gas producers in the world. Sasol, a South African company, began producing natural gas from the Temane field in 2004 and managed to produce 3.8 billion cubic meters in 2011.
Mozambique has huge coalfields, especially in the northwestern Tete Province. The country has one of the largest coal deposits in the world. The development of the coal mine in Moatize basin by the Vale of Brazil significantly increased coal production in the country. Initially, the mine was forecast to produce 12.5 metric tons of coal (both coking and thermal) per year by 2010 but by 2012, it only produced 2.6 million tons. In 2017, the company mined about 10 million metric tons between January and October, a significant increase from the previous year which was 5.9 million metric tons for the whole year. In 2012, the Minas Moatize Basin Coal Mine was estimated to hold 25 million tons of proven reserves and another 17 million tons of thermal coking coal. The development of the mine has relied heavily on the rehabilitation of the railway line from Beira to Tete. The Benga coalfield is estimated to have 500 million tons of coal reserves.
Mozambique is believed to have the largest tantalite reserve in the world. The country is among the top 8 tantalum producing countries. It was ranked the 4th largest producer in 2014 with 85 tons. The country’s major tantalum mine is the Marropino Mine, owned by the Fleming Family and Partners through the Highland Africa Mining Company. The other major mine is the Morrua Mine which is capable of producing over 200,000 kilograms per year. Although tantalite is a major resource in Mozambique with great potential to generate foreign income, its development has been slowed by illegal mining and periodic closing of the mines. The mines and mine workers have also suffered attacks from the locals.
Mozambique is one of the tourist destinations in Africa. Apart from wildlife and natural environment, the country has a coastline along the Indian Ocean. The coastline is lined with different attractive and serene beaches that offer total bliss. The beaches that are very far from towns and urban centers such as those in Cabo Delgado, have clean water and environment. The most popular beaches are located on the Quirimbas Islands and the Archipelago of Bazaruto in the province of Inhambane.
Other Significant Natural Resources
Mozambique is the 2nd largest producer of aluminum after South Africa. The Mozal aluminum smelter produces an average of 550,000 metric tons of aluminum per year. Gold is produced mainly by the artisanal miners and is mainly characterized by illegal mining. Cement, clay, gemstone, uranium, and zirconium are also produced in the country. The government, through foreign companies, is still exploring for oil.