6 minute read

Guest editorial

EIC guest editorial

by Åsa Gilbert

International Business Development Manager, SafeLane Global

The little-known barriers that could devastate your energy project in Mozambique (and how to overcome them)

Mozambique boasts a wealth of renewable energy potential, yet explosive remnants of war and an insurgency threat are barriers to harnessing this unrivalled potential. SafeLane Global (formerly BACTEC Mozambique Lda) has been working in Mozambique, demining and mitigating the risks of all explosive threats since 2004 – both on land and in the marine environment. In this article, Åsa Gilbert explains the explosive threats you need to be aware of, and how you can mitigate them to keep your project on track, your reputation intact and your personnel protected.

The renewable energy potential and natural resource opportunities in Mozambique

Together with the government, the Mozambique Energy Fund (FUNAE) conducted a renewable potential feasibility study focusing on: • Solar

• Hydro • Biomass

• Wind

• Geothermal

• Maritime Resources

Together, they identified a total potential in excess of 23,000GW – with solar the most abundant at 23,000GW alone. Solar is followed by hydro (19GW), wind (5GW), biomass (2GW) and geothermal (0.1GW). Mozambique is also blessed with an abundance of natural resources including iron ore, tantalite, gold, graphite, marble, bentonite and limestone. However, because of historic conflict which resulted in the nation being widely affected by landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination, these resources have been under-explored and under-utilised – until now. Thanks to political stabilisation after the peace accord of 1992 and the years of demining and battle area clearance (BAC) that followed, Mozambique is now a safer country – ripe for investment. However, it’s critical that investors are aware of the remaining explosive threats when planning their energy project activity in Mozambique; these explosive barriers to safe development must be fully understood, planned for and mitigated against.

Understanding Mozambique’s conflict history

For centuries, Mozambique was colonised by Portugal. When the collapse of colonialism began in the 20th century, Mozambique was no exception in seeking independence with the Mozambican War of Independence lasting a decade from 1964 to 1974. Independence was declared and Mozambique as we know it was born in 1975. However, political uncertainty was common in many newly independent countries; in Mozambique, this unrest resulted in the 15 year-long Mozambican Civil War, 1977-1992. The deadly and devastating effects of the Mozambican Civil War included the country being heavily contaminated with landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). After the years of conflict ended, intense focus was placed on decontaminating the land and returning it safely to the Mozambican people. In 2015, after two decades of clearance operations the country was declared free of anti-personnel mines in all known minefields. The Mozambican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation has explained that there may still be areas that are contaminated: “It would be unrealistic to say that there will never again be accidents related to mines or other explosive devices. History shows otherwise.” His comment regarding ‘other explosive devices’ is of critical consideration to those who wish to develop Mozambique and invest in its natural resources. Further consideration must also be given to the explosive threat impact presented by the recent RENAMO insurgency, and the ongoing Islamist insurgency.

Planning to enable investment in Mozambique’s future

As well as its natural resources, its solar levels and trade winds make Mozambique an ideal location for investment into the development of renewable energy. Consequently, many of the world’s energy companies are planning developments, and the government is hugely supportive because, in spite of a steadily growing GDP, Mozambique is still a developing country affected by poverty. New green energy developments can create employment for local nationals, as well as helping the world move towards a future fuelled by clean, renewable energy.

Although Mozambique has been declared anti-personnel mine free in known minefields, other items of explosive ordnance (EO) still pose a risk to the advancements of the nation today. These include the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) utilised by insurgents as well as UXO such as mortars, grenades and rockets as a result of past conflict.

Mitigating the explosive risk to your energy project

Unlike victim activated anti-personnel landmines or IEDs, historic ordnance has not been designed to detonate due to pressure. However, as a result of lying dormant for decades, this ordnance becomes increasingly unstable due to degradation and erosion. When items are disturbed by flooding or exposed to heat, vibration or shock, a deadly detonation can be triggered – just as a mine or an IED can be triggered by someone walking or driving over them. This means both current and historic explosive threats can impact the safety of personnel and project delivery for any intrusive project such as infrastructure, mining, construction or energy developments. Once these threats are understood however, they can be mitigated against, thus enabling the utilisation of the nation’s inimitable resources and the advancement of your project.

A safe solution for your project

SafeLane has been operational globally for over 30 years and has been mitigating the risks of all explosive threats in Mozambique since 2004. The team knows the landscape, the risks, and has proven their value for humanitarian, governmental, and commercial clients alike, keeping clients’ personnel safe and projects on track and on budget.

SafeLane is operational in improvised explosive device disposal in some the world’s most complex conflict zones including Yemen, Mali and Somalia, it also offers effective IED threat mitigation (IED-TM) services and prevents classified and ‘attractive to criminal and terrorist organisations’ (ACTO) items from falling into the hands of proscribed terrorist organisations.

Is your project at risk from historic ordnance contamination?

Understanding the contamination history of your project site is the first step to determining what steps – if any – you need to take to ensure explosive remnants of war don’t impact progression. SafeLane provides you with this intelligence in the form of a detailed desktop threat assessment. Further, as an end-to-end explosive threat mitigation service provider, if there’s a requirement to survey or clear some or all of your site, provide a watching brief or train your staff, it packages services.

Providing protection against the current complex IED threat

Where projects or personnel may be at risk from the current insurgency threat, SafeLane supplies accredited and experienced detection and protection canine services. The dogs are trained to detect any scent target – from explosives (commercial, military and homemade) to narcotics, for example. Protection dogs can provide full security for your site, camp or mine. As SafeLane is also operational in improvised explosive device disposal in some the world’s most complex conflict zones including Yemen, Mali and Somalia, it also offers effective IED threat mitigation (IED-TM) services and prevents classified and ‘attractive to criminal and terrorist organisations’ (ACTO) items from falling into the hands of proscribed terrorist organisations.

For a cost and obligation-free initial assessment of your Mozambican project’s potential explosive ordnance risk exposure, contact International Business Development Manager Åsa Gilbert

asa.gilbert@safelaneglobal.com +44 (0)1594 368 077

Any EIC members who wish to be profiled in this section please contact Mark Risley, Head of Marketing and Communications


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