The Balama Project is situated in the Cabo Delgado province of northern Mozambique, some 200km west of the port town of Pemba. Mozambique gained its independence from the Portuguese in 1975 which lead to a protracted fifteen year civil war lasting until 1992. Two years later Mozambique held its first multiparty elections and has remained a republic ever since. The country has maintained political stability and has gone from strength to strength - it is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. Although a great portion of their economy is based largely on agriculture other industries such as aluminum and petroleum production, chemical manufacturing and tourism are growing.
Balama graphite was first documented in 1893 by John H. Furman, a geologist and engineer working for the Nyassa Company. The Nyassa Company was incorporated as a Portuguese company but it was part owned by British and French interests. The company was granted a charter, to establish economic development and administer the leased territories (Cabo Delgado province as well as islands off the coast of Mozambique) by the Portuguese government. Accordingly, the company sent a number of experts on expeditions through these areas to establish an inventory of resources.
In his report John H. Furman states, "north of Mualia [now the village of Maputo], I discovered the greatest deposits of graphite, of a most excellent quality, which I think have ever been found. They extend several miles in length and will aggregate more than 700ft [214m] in thickness." Now it seems that Mr Furman was prophetic in his observation because 120 years later, in 2013, Syrah Resources announced the largest graphite resource ever defined at the time.