Australian Firm Revives Namekara Vermiculite Mine

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In short
An Australian firm- Black Mountain Resources resumed operations early this year with its first vermiculite orders from North America in April. It has since entered into five supply contracts, which run for 12 months, for supply of material into the UK, Europe and Japan.

Namekara Vermiculite Mine in Eastern Uganda could be headed for the better with more foreign importers placing orders. The Vermiculite Mine in Busumbu, Manafwa district is thought to be the largest and one of the highest grade vermiculite mines in the world.

The mine had in the past struggled to operate under different mining license holders. It stopped production in 2013 under Gulf Resources.

In February 2016, an Australian firm- Black Mountain Re­sources bought the mining rights from Gulf Resources. The acquisition was completed in late October last year. Black Mountain Resources resumed operations early this year with its first vermiculite orders from North America in April. It has since entered into five supply contracts, which run for 12 months, for supply of material into the UK, Europe and Japan.

Black Mountain's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Julian Ford said sales into North America - the world's largest vermiculite market - is a very important development for the company and provides excellent validation of the Namekara product in a very large market.

"The solid progress made on sales confirms our belief that the Namekara project has the potential to become the premier vermiculite mine globally, and the value of Namekara continues to grow," says Ford.

He said they are encouraged by the performance of the plant and the growing visibility of it product is gaining among customers and potential customers. Black Mountain says its Namekara Vermiculite deposit resource is about 4.6 million tonnes at 19 percent vermiculite in Uganda. It is now producing 30,000 tonnes per year.

The Australian firm intends to spend just over USD 3 million in the first phase at Namekara. The largest amount of this investment will go towards the upgrade of the processing plant.

The company says demand for vermiculite is growing at 0.75mt per year for all sizes, although the large flakes of vermiculite at Namekara make it of high quality.

Joseph Okedi, an Assistant Commissioner for Mines, also former Senior Inspector of Mines is hopeful that Black Mountain could turn around Namekera going by what is going at the Mines.
 
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The resumption of activities at Namekera comes at the time when the global prices for vermiculite are increasing. Vermiculite is crucial in the agricultural industry as it is used in fertilizers. The high demand is being fueled by demand for fertilizer.
 
Some reports say the growing construction industry is expected to drive the overall growth of the vermiculite market. Vermiculite has good potential in animal feeding, fire protection; also it is a good alternative to asbestos