The mine will be operated by Burundi Musongati Mining, a joint venture of Burundi Mining Metallurgy International and the Burundi government.

Burundi second vice-president Gervais Rufyikiri was quoted by East African Business Week as saying: "The launch of the mining activities is an eloquent sign of peace recovered and stability.

"The nickel deposits also exist in Nyabikere and Waga, but the most important deposit is the one of Musongati.

"Burundi is among the 10 countries in the world that have important deposits of nickel untapped according to the study commissioned by the African Development Bank in 2009."

The Burundian government identified the nickel deposits at Musongati in 1972 with financial backing from the World Bank and UNDP.

During the studies, metals associated with nickel, including iron, copper, cobalt and platinum were also intersected.