The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia: Egyptian Company Taps Largest Gold Reserve in Ethiopia

An Egyptian company, Ascom Precious Metals Mining, has discovered what is said to be the largest gold ore reserve ever discovery in the history of gold exploration in Ethiopia. The discovery is made in the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State, in south- west Ethiopia. Ascom has been prospecting for gold and base metals in the Benishangul region since 2010.

Two weeks ago Ascom made a presentation to senior officials of the Ministry of Mines about the new discovery. Tolossa Shagi Moti, Minister of Mines, told The Reporter that the ministry was happy with the discovery. "This is the largest gold discovery ever made in the country," Tolossa said. According to Tolossa, Ascom Mining will conduct a feasibility study and will start developing the mine.

"We hope that the company will conduct the feasibility study and start production after one year," the minister said. Tolossa said that the ministry will grant large-scale gold mining license to Ascom Mining after the company conducts the feasibility study. The ministry declined to disclose the reserve of gold ore discovered. "We have been talking about 30 or 40 tons of gold discoveries so far. What Ascom discovered is much more than that," Tolossa said. Ascom is expected to announce the discovery in the coming few weeks.

Gold has become Ethiopia's major foreign currency earner next to coffee. The country earns more than 600 million dollars from mineral exports and gold contributes 90 percent of the earning. To date, MIDROC Gold is the only company engaged in large-scale mining. MIDROC annually exports four tons of gold, mainly to Switzerland. MIDROC Gold has discovered a new gold reserve in the Sakaro locality.

Recently, the Ministry of Mines granted a large-scale gold mining license to Ezana Mining, a local mining company. National Mining Company, one of the subsidiary companies of MIDROC Ethiopia, has also discovered a large primary gold deposit in the Tigrai and Oromia regional states. A British mining company, Nyota Minerals, discovered a high-quality gold ore in Wellega Zone, Tulu Kapi locality. Artisanal miners are also playing a major role in gold export. More than one million people are engaged in artisanal mining. Last year artisanal miners sold 8.3 tons of placer gold valued at 420 million dollars to the National Bank of Ethiopia.

MIDROC Gold is expected to start mining at the Sakaro gold mine next year. National Mining Company is conducting a feasibility study. The company will soon make an announcement about the result of its feasibility study. Nyota Minerals is revising its feasibility study. The company made the gold discovery and the feasibility study before the price of gold plummet. The company is forced to revise its feasibility study due to the price decline. Geologists say Ethiopia has a large area covered by greenstone belt, gold bearing rocks. "More gold discoveries are made. Gold seems to be Ethiopia's future," they commented.

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