Eritrea is on the move to expand its mining operations by 2018 to produce gold, copper, zinc and potash as it looks to open up more industries to diversify its economy, a top mining official told Reuters.
The country is banking on the Arabian Nubian Shield that have long scratches of gold nuggets that stretches along the Red Sea. Till now, the country has been operating just one commercial mining site.
It is now expected that the country will kick start its mining operations of gold, copper and zinc in stages by 2017 and later follow with potash, Alem Kibreab said in an interview in his office in the capital Asmara.
At the moment we have one working mine and the first quarter of this year - 2016 we will have a second mine
“At the moment we have one working mine and the first quarter of this year – 2016 we will have a second mine, which is a gold mine Zara Mining Share Company and we will have two on the pipeline also, which I think will be operational in 2018. One will be similar to Bisha, producing gold, copper and Zinc which is in VMS (Volcanic Massive Sulfide) deposits and the other is a different material, it is going to produce potash,” said Alem.
According to the mining official, the country was looking for international companies to work with in order to boost the economic growth.
“Mining as a foreign currency earner and as an employer has its impact but right now we only have one mine. We are in to the second so the contribution is not that much. It is minimal but after these four mines kick off then mining will be a booster to the other economy. After all, mining is depletable not a renewable resource, so it works as a kick off for other sectors, economic sectors,” he said.
Many investors have been worried about the threat from Ethiopia over a boundary war. The African Development Bank estimates growth in 2015 was 2.1 percent from 2 percent in 2014.
The country’s only mine, Bisha, began to produce gold in 2011, though the output has been phased out as excavations have grown deeper. Companies have now resorted to mining copper and soon will mine zinc.