The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum yesterday granted five mineral exploration licenses for local and foreign mining firms.
The minister of Mines and Petroleum Sameul Hurkato (PhD) signed the mineral exploration agreement with the company executives at the Ministry head office in Addis Ababa. Aleta Land Plc, Rose Ethiopia, Agodayo Metals and AOne Marble and Granite Plc are the four companies that secured their exploration licenses from the ministry. Aleta land secured two exploration licenses.
The four companies with a registered capital of 44.9 million birr will be engaged in the exploration of gold, metals and dimension stones in the Amhara and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State. The companies are expected to create 57 jobs during the exploration phase.
After singing the agreements Samuel said that the Ethiopian government has given due attention to transform the mining and oil sector. "The government is committed to develop the mining sector. Ethiopia is endowed with a vast mineral and hydro carbon resources. In the coming years we should be able to develop these potential and contribute to the fast economic development of the country," Samuel said. He assured the companies that the ministry would provide all the required assistance. "You are lucky that you are starting your work at a time when the government is committed to transform the mining sector," he said. Samuel urged the mining companies to carry out their duties as per their business plan. "Some of the companies that secured licenses from the ministry did not perform well. So I urge you to engage in the exploration projects as per the plan you submitted to us," he added.
Samuel stressed the need to engage local communities in venturing into mineral exploration projects. He said that the ministry started going down to the grass root level to hold discussions with local community leaders and local administrations. "We also visit exploration and mining sites to see what has been done in different parts of the company. If you engage the local community and administration you will not face any challenge. The community will protect your projects," he added.
Samuel disclosed that the ministry has established new directorates that promotes the mining potential of the country and that addresses some of the challenges that investors may face.
The minister revealed that the ministry reviewed about 200 mineral exploration and mining licenses and is taking appropriate measures on those who did not undertake their exploration activities as per the schedule. "Those who keep their license area idle for long time we will revoke their licenses and bring in new investors who are committed to work," he said.
"There are vast resources and we are sure that the mining sector will generate the required foreign currency in the coming years. And we are working to eradicate some of the bottle necks in the sector," he added.
Following the launch of the economic reform program the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum is granting large number of exploration and mining licenses to mining firms. Last year, the ministry issued more than 30 exploration and mining licenses.
Asked about MIDROC Gold Lega Dembi gold mine and Kenticha tantalum mines which suspended operation due to environmental concerns the minister said that the ministry has conducted a study on the stated mining fields. "We have reviewed the mines and there are some remaining works. We want to change the trend. There should be world class mining management," Samuel said.
The mining sector used to generate more than 600 million dollars-the lions share coming from the export of gold. In the past five years the mineral export revenue has been dwindling due to growing contraband trade and sporadic conflicts observed in various regional states. Last year the country earned a meager 170 million USD from mineral exports. The ministry vowed to revamp the sector by overhauling the system and combating illicit mineral trade.