AME proposes community based mining at Qenticha

(Photo: Anteneh Aklilu)

African Mining and Energy (AME) has proposed to erect lithium battery facility under the scheme of community based mining at Qenticha.
Moreover, the government has asked the firm to come up with the technical capabilities and financial documentations required for the go ahead node of the project.
The company said that it is under discussion with the Ministry of Mining and Petroleum (MoMP) on its proposal about the operation of tantalum resource that was initially developed at the end of the Derg era which then commenced mines in 1994.
Sammy Million, Stakeholder Relationship Manager of AME, expressed his hope that the talk with MoMP will be closed in the near future.
The company has tabled the scheme that it implemented in other African countries like South Africa. The experience of the company is utilizing the natural resource with community based partnership.
According to its proposal for the government the company said that besides itself, the community at Qenticha and the regional and federal government will partner on the project at the tantalum mines. The mines present a globally important tantalite source in the Neoproterozoic Adola Belt, Qenticha locality in Seba Boru wereda, Guji zone, Oromia region, 600km of Addis Ababa at southern Ethiopia.
For the last almost three decades, the country has exported the ore of the mineral, which faced criticism from experts who claimed it would not benefit the country.
On its call for interested partners, MoMP has placed one of the criteria to be the development of the mining facility with a value addition scheme of the mineral which has several outputs for various industries.
AME has substantial records alongside major project developments in Africa and has been responsible for originating sponsored projects with more than a billion dollar investment throughout the continent.
“We have been here for the past two years on the aim to focus on two major sectors; the tantalum with lithium development and gold project,” the Stakeholder Relationship Manager expressed.
The company comes to Ethiopia on the international bid for the development of Qenticha Mines, which is currently closed with different issues including environmental concern, for the joint development.
The plan is to build refineries as well as new lithium batteries project.
“Currently, we have received a letter from MoMP showing our case has been reviewed. Following the letter, we need to fill the documentation that shows our technical capabilities and financial documentation after which we will be awarded to work on Qenticha. So that is still ongoing,” Sammy said.
“One of the major core values of AME is Community Based Mining. We firmly believe that the world is changing and so is the mining world. So as both these worlds grow the community has to grow as well. Therefore we have resonated with the community based mining,” he added.
He further explained that community uplifting is one of the major drivers to AME’s core value operations throughout the continent.
“Our seven major operations in Africa are based in the community, so the idea we brought in Ethiopia is to share the experience of community, who are directly linked to the resource geographically,”the Stakeholder Relationship Manager said.
The company disclosed that its approach has to be a structural chain geared towards a ‘win-win’ that makes the community have direct revenue share subject similar to that of the business modality.
The company has targeted to invest USD 20 million for redevelopment of Qenticha.
“The total projects for the coming five years will have a USD 250 million injection that also includes the construction of a world class plant to produce lithium batteries, which is on high demand on the modern world technological products by manufacturers,” Sammy said expressing his hope that the new mining policy, which is at its final stage, would have a key role in revitalizing the mining sector as well as expanding the involvement of foreign companies and their various partners.
The value additional project does not only expand the revenue from the resource but also creates job for the society in the area.
Further studies are still being undertaken by the company’s technical partner, DRA Global, at the area. The study is being undertaken to know the future perspective for the establishment of the factory at the locality.
The firm also wants to carry out programs to implement at the project as well as access to education, infrastructure, and a mining school. “One of the major things we want to do to Ethiopia is to open up a drilling school which will be the first for the country,” Sammy echoed.
The mining company has projects in countries that include South Africa, Mauritania, Tanzania, Kenya and DRC.
Under AME Foundation, it has donated water pumps and COVID 19 related materials at Qenticha besides establishing of a children-school that is expected to be finalized within six months at the cost of more than 6 million birr.
“We have seen that the community has lack of trust and mistreatment resulting from past experiences that we want to change. We want to show that AME is not just a mining company but it is uplifting communities by making the society a direct access on the resource. We have also evaluated that the area is very poor regarding basic infrastructures,” the Stakeholder Relationship Manager explained.
The company representatives said that it will follow the international mining guide line ‘environmental social and governance (ESG)’ on the project it put in Ethiopia.
AME Foundation had targeted to construct a school at the initial stage meanwhile the deal has not been finalized with the government.
The Ethiopian Minerals, Petroleum and Bio Fuel Corporation used mines tantalum concentrate for mainly exports to China.
The Qenticha mine has an installed capacity of producing 174 tons of tantalum concentrate, while the government has planned to expand the tantalum mine and build a tantalum processing plant that manufactures value added tantalum products than the ore export.