Opportunities and challenges in the mining sector of Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF-led) government has been criticized for not giving due attention to the mining sector.

Critics say that the senior government officials do not consider the mining sector an engine of growth. The government on its part argues that it does not want to venture into the mineral exploration and production sector, which is capital intensive and risky. Instead, the government wants to gather basic geological data, promote the mining sector, encourage foreign and local companies to engage in exploration and mining activities and regulate the sector.

The Ministry of Mines last week organized a two-day consultative workshop for the media and communication professionals as well as the mining companies in the Bishoftu town. State minister for the Ministry of Mines, Tewodros Gebregzabher, who chaired the meeting, said that since mineral resources are non-renewable, mining activity should be wisely undertaken. “Mining activity should be undertaken in a very transparent manner. We recently have been accepted as candidate member of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.

 

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Our intension is not securing a license from a foreign entity. Since we are working for our people we should be accountable to our own people, ” Tewodros said. He said that the Ministry of Mines is tasked with licensing, administering and promoting the mining sector. He acknowledges that the media has a paramount role in promoting the mining sector.

“Our economic development does not hinge on the mining sector. We are implementing agricultural led industrialization strategy. But the mining sector could assist this transition by generating more foreign currency and substituting imports. We want to use the mining sector for expediting our economic development.

” Ethiopia has an immense mineral potential. Gold is being discovered in different parts of the country. A huge potash deposit was discovered in the Afar Regional State estimated at more than one billion tons. Tantalum has been mined in the Borena Zone of the Oromia Regional State. Platinum is mined in the Yubdo locality in Western Wollega.

Gemstones including opal, emerald and sapphire are found in the Amhara, Oromia, Afar and Somali Regional States. Iron ore and coal are also available in bulk in the Wollega, Illubabor and Chilga localities. There is a huge geothermal reserve in the East Africa Rift System in the east and northeast parts of the country with a potential to generate 5,000 MW of electric power.

Source: The reporter (Addis Ababa)

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