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Mozambique admits mining boom won't solve jobs crisis


Mozambique's government on Friday unveiled plans to harness the country's vast mining and gas potential, but admitted it would not create enough jobs to eradicate rampant unemployment.

The impoverished southern African country is fast becoming an emerging mining and energy frontier, thanks to vast quantities of discoveries in recent years.

"We want as many Mozambicans as possible to work in the extractive industry as they are capital intensive industries," said Abdul Razak, the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources.

But he warned that the energy industry does "not employ many people" -- in a country where unemployment is estimated at 27 percent.

Estimates put the number of people who will be directly employed by gas extracting companies in the northern Cabo Delgado province at 10,000 with a further 15,000 to 30,000 indirect jobs.

Coal mining in the central Tete province initially employed 13,000 people officials said but that most had been temporary jobs during the construction phase.

Two years after Brazilian company, Vale opened its coal mine only 1,000 people were now employed there officials said.

The government wants to "ensure that 100 percent of unqualified labour on mining and hydrocarbon projects be composed of national citizens."

Mozambique is said to be sitting on one of the world's largest untapped coal fields, estimated by government at 20 billion tonnes. Meanwhile 150 trillion cubic feet of natural gas has already been discovered.

The government says natural gas alone could add 50 percent to GDP over the next twenty years.

Despite it's confirmed potential, the country is ranked by the UN as the world's fourth poorest, with most of the 23.4 million population living on $1 a day.

The country is still recovering from 16-year civil war which ended in 1992 and is saddled with crumbling infrastructure and shortage of skills.

Razak said jobs would be generated through infrastructure development projects like upgrades on railways and ports.