Namekara Mining Operation, the largest vermiculite mine in Uganda, has been sold for the second time in one year. Rio Tinto, the company that owns and operates the vermiculite mine, has sold it to Gulf Resources an Australian company. The mine, which straddles the districts of Mbale and Tororo, is considered to be one of the largest high grade vermiculite mineral deposits in the world. A statement from Gulf Resources says it has entered into a formal sale and purchase agreement to buy Namekara Mine from Rio Tinto. Last year the Namekara Mine was sold to Rio Tinto by IBI Corporation, a Canadian mining company. However with Rio Tinto hard hit by the global economic downturn, it has sold all, but its most lucrative mining interests in Africa. Vermiculite is a natural mineral, used as a soil conditioner and as a carrier for dry handling and slow release of agricultural chemicals. It is also used in glassblowing, lamp work and glass bead making to allow finished hot pieces to cool slowly.