ASMARA – Eritrea expects to have four mines in operation by 2018 producing gold, copper, zinc and potash as one of Africa’s poorest nations looks to build an industry that can kick-start its economy, a top mining official told Reuters.
Eritrea’s artisanal miners have long scratched for gold nuggets on deposits that stretch along the Red Sea, a geological formation known as the Arabian Nubian Shield, but the country currently has just one working commercial mine.
The industry is growing, however. A new gold mine, a joint venture with a Chinese firm, will start commercial production by the end of March, the director-general of the Department of Mines told Reuters.
It will be followed by a mine that will in stages produce gold, copper and zinc, which is expected to start operations by the end of 2017, then a potash mine, Alem Kibreab said in an interview in his office in the capital Asmara.
“In 2018, we will have four mining companies,” he said, giving one of the most detailed outlines yet for the development of the industry. “Eritrea is very prospective. It is investor-friendly.”
Alem said the government was looking to the nascent industry to boost economic growth in the small Horn of Africa country, which officials say has a population of 3.6 million and that has long relied heavily on remittances from Eritreans abroad for foreign exchange.
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