Partly impacted by the revocation of MIDROC Gold license of Etho-Saudi billionaire Al Amoudi, Ethiopia has missed 95% of its mining export target for the first six months of the current fiscal year started July 8, 2018.
Though the country planned to export different minerals worth $528 million, the country has only got $30 million achieving only 5% of its target, according to the latest report New Business Ethiopia received from the Ministry of Trade. The country eared equal amount of hard currency for the same period last year. Meanwhile the target for the first six months last year was $92 million.
Mining interruption of MIDROC Gold because of the health hazards I the local community has contributed to the decline of the income Ethiopia has earned from mineral exports, according to the report.
MIDROC Gold is owed by the Ethiopian – Saudi billionaire Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al Amoudi, who is released from Saudi Arabia this weekend.
The report of the ministry also stated that instability in some parts of the country, contraband trade of minerals and shortage of foreign currency for importing inputs have contributed to the income decline from the sector.
Other than gold, which is the major export mineral of the country, some of export minerals of Ethiopia include sapphire, opal, tantalum, emerald, gemstones, marble, and other metallic and non-metallic minerals. The country is also endowed with huge deposits of phosphate and potash minerals.
Emerald mining is emerging as a major mineral in Ethiopia. Reports show that it is creating job opportunities for more than 30,000 Ethiopians. Most emeralds are then exported to Switzerland, Australia and the United States.
In 2017, Ethiopia exported 2,290 kilograms of emeralds. The volume has surpassed the export of opal and sapphire which are the current major gemstone types exported.
In 2011 an emerald pendant necklace owned by Elizabeth Taylor sold for $6.5 million, breaking down to about $280,000 paid per carat.
Adola in southern Ethiopia is known to host a long and linear belt of this rare metal occurrence of tantalum and niobium in its Kenticha Belt. The Belt extends for over 100 kilometers and covers an area of more than 250 kilometers.
Located approximately 550km south of Addis Ababa at Adola, the 25 year old, Kenticha mine is considered to have one of the world’s largest tantalum resources.
The Tigray region of Ethiopia in the northern part of the country is known for sapphire deposit. For many years farmers around the area have been engaged in mining sapphire. There are three well-known types of sapphire in Ethiopia namely, Blue star sapphire, fancy sapphire and the ‘colour-changing’ sapphire.
A report by the Ethiopia Geological Survey (EGS), the state agency shows that Ethiopia also produces the rare and coveted pink sapphires known as ‘padparadscha’.
“All indications are that Ethiopia’s newly discovered deposits are ripe for commercial exploitation. Limited geological and geochemical work in the belt to define the mode of occurrence means that the field is wide open for investors to bring these extraordinary gemstones to a global market,” EGS, said in its 2017 report.
Ethiopia has a potential for platinum deposits in a number of favorable host rocks, according to report of EGS. In the western part of the country a more than 150 km long belt hosting a variety of ultramafic intrusive deposits of stratiform as well as of Alaskan type is known. Platinum group elements (PGE) have been found in the Yubdo ultramafic belt.
Primary PGE were discovered in the Yubdo ultramafic rocks by mineralogical study of borehole samples drilled in 1969 by Duval Corporation, USA, as well as sample assays in 2000.
Ethiopia’s gold deposits are clustered in a Proterozoic basement, which covers about 18% of the country, according to EGS. A considerable part of this area has already been surveyed by aerial geophysical surveys and geochemical mapping.
“Good news for investors is that significant gold mineral deposit has been found in three regions: northern, western and southern parts of Ethiopia. The most promising gold occurrences are located in the Tulu-Kapi and Ankore areas,” EGS report says.
Northern greenstone belts
The most promising discovery in this greenstone belt is the Terakimiti prospect where trenching and drilling has revealed grades of up to 16 grams a ton. The deposit contains an estimated total of 20 million tons of ore with a grade of 0.29 grams per ton and there is also 6 million tons of ore that contain 2.24% copper.
Western greenstone belts
The presence of gold mineralization in these areas has been known since the early 1930s, and several of the belts host gold. The most promising gold occurrences are located in the Tulu-Kapi and Ankore areas.
Southern greenstone belts
There are already two gold mines in the Southern greenstone belt. The Lega Dembi mine in the Oromia Region has two active sites already in production – one open pit and an underground gold mine. The Sakaro mine is an underground mine in the Gujji zone in Oromia Region which is still under development.