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    14 November, 2014
Montepuez marble production to resume
Maputo, 14 Nov (AIM) – The state-owned Mozambican Mining Exploration Company (EMEM) on 14 November signed an agreement with the Sarla Group of India to resume the production of marble at Montepuez, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

The agreement was signed by EMEM chairperson Casimiro Francisco and Sarla representative Prabhat Jain.

There is a long history of marble mining in Montepuez, but the marble quarries fell silent four years ago, when the Portuguese Visabeira Group closed its operations, allegedly because it had run into technological problems in extracting the marble.

The new mining company will be 51 per cent owned by Sarla and 49 per cent by EMEM. Francisco told reporters that the Sarla group is investing US$10 million in the quarries, while the EMEM contribution consists of the land rights, and the existing equipment and premises.

He expected the marble quarries to resume production by the end of 2015. Currently there are three quarries on the 850 hectare concession, but the new venture could open more. The revived quarries are expected to provide 150 jobs.

The initial target, Francisco added, is to produce 10,000 cubic metres of marble a year. The next step will be to build a marble cutting and polishing plant in the Cabo Delgado provincial capital, Pemba. Such a plant would require additional investment of US$5 million, and considerably more if production was expanded beyond 10,000 cubic metres a year.

Jain praised the quality of the white marble in Montepuez which, he said, is similar to the marble used to build India’s most famous monument, the Taj Mahal.

He said that the Sarla Group’s marble company was set up in 1984 and was “a pioneer in India in new technology for marble processing”.

Jain said that initially the EMEM-Sarla joint venture will sell the marble produced within Mozambique and in other southern African companies. But there was strong demand for high quality marble across the world, so he also expected Montepuez marble to be sold in Asia, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
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