Director General Mines
Phone: +291 1 20-28-89
Fax: +291 1 12-45-09
P.O. Box 272

Source: CIA Factbook


Eritrea is underlain by Precambrian meta-sediments and older gneissic basement, Neoproterozoic terranes illustrating the effects of the Pan-African event, and locally extensive Tertiary to Recent volcanic rocks. Numerous thin basalt flows are found in the Miocene sediments of the Red Sea coast; the Aden Series basalts range in age from Pliocene to Holocene and were probably extruded contemporaneous with the major Pleistocene phase of uplift and rifting. Marine sediments of Mesozoic to recent in age are exposed in the coastal area along the Red Sea.
Geological: Ethiopian Institute of Geological Surveys P.O. Box 2302, Addis Ababa Tel: (251) 1 159 172 fax: (251) 1/5138 77 1:250 000 (2 maps), 1:500 000 (1 map), 1:2 000 000 (2 maps); Geological map of Eritrea (1999)  


Salt, gypsum, kaolin and construction materials were produced in 2008 and only salt and gypsum exported. Salt production increased by 350 per cent in 2008 but the country is still a relatively small producer (16th in Africa). Eritrea reportedly has significant mineral resources including asbestos, baryte, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, zinc, silver, magnesium, potash, talc, possibly petroleum and natural gas. Several high-grade polymetallic volcanic massive sulphide (VHMS) deposits have been discovered in recent years (e.g. Adi Nefas, Debarwa, Emba Derho, Bisha) and mining is expected to begin in the near future although exploration and mine development is impacted by political tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia following independence.

Maps and images

Gold Home

Volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) Cu-Zn-Au-Ag deposits and gold mineralization in albite-sericite altered mafic volcanics at Melhoy and Adi Kelbay
  • Nevsun Resources Ltd (Canadian, AMEX:NSU; TSX:NSU, operates the Tabakoto/Segala Mine in Mali, also active in Ghana) is developing the Bisha deposit. It has proven and probable open-pit ore reserves of 20,08 million t ; an oxide zone of 4,02 million t grading 7,99 g/t Au, a supergene zone of 6,35 million tons grading 0,83 g/t Au and 4,40% Cu and a primary zone of 9,71 million t grading 0,76 g/t Au with 1,14% Cu and 7,21% Zn. Life of mine (10 years +) gold production is estimated at 1,06 million oz. Nevsun is also exploring the area covering the Augaro and Damiscioba mines which were the largest operating gold mines in Eritrea during the 1930's when they were under Italian management. The China Import-Export Bank will lend $60-million to Eritrea so that its State-owned mining firm can buy 40% of the Bisha gold mine from Canada's Nevsun Resources, the Ministry of Commerce said in November, 2007. Nevsun Resources Ltd. announced in October, 2007, that the Eritrean National Mining Corporation would buy into the Bisha gold mine at fair value. The government of Eritrea has awarded a mining licence for the Bisha gold and base metals project, Nevsun Resources said in January, 2008.
    The company, together with the State-owned Eritrean National Mining Company, which owns 40% of the project, would now seek finance for the project, Nevsun said in a statement.
    The mine is expected to cost $250-million to build, and the Bisha Share Mining Company,which owns the project, would be “actively seeking” debt finance for its development.
    The licence is a key milestone for the company, which was ordered by the Eritrean government to halt exploration at the project in 2004.
    The firm was allowed to resume operations in the country in early 2005, after agreeing to allow the government to buy a 30% interest in the project, on top of the free 10% interest it receives according to the country's law.
    “The government of Eritrea continues to show its strong support to the redevelopment of mining as an important sector of its national economy,” Nevsun said.
    Construction of the Bisha mine is expected to take 24 months, a Nevsun spokesperson said in December, 2007.
    The company expects to produce 471 000 oz of gold during the first year of operation at Bisha, and 424 000 oz in the second year, at a cash cost of $150/oz.
    Copper production will begin in the second year, and peak at 184-million pounds of copper in the fifth year of operation.
    The mine will begin producing zinc in its sixth year.
    Nevsun Update
    Nevsun Resources (TSX: NSU) produced 101,000 ounces gold in the fourth quarter, 2011, at its Bisha mine in Eritrea, hitting guidance of about 100,000 ounces gold for the quarter more or less right on the button.  All told in 2011 Nevsun churned out 379,000 ounces gold at Bisha, where it is mining the gold-rich oxide portion of the Bisha Main deposit. Gold recovery held steady at 88 percent in the fourth quarter while throughput was in line with previous quarters in 2011, the first year of commercial production at Bisha. The best quarter of the year in terms of gold output was the third quarter in which Nevsun pumped out 110,000 ounces gold by milling 446,000 tonnes ore. In comparison Nevsun recovered the fourth quarter's 101,000 ounces gold from 455,000 tonnes of ore. While Nevsun has yet to publish ore grade for the fourth quarter, it was undoubtedly lower than the stellar third quarter, given that gold output was somewhat less on higher tonnage. That falls in line with comments Nevsun President and CEO, Cliff Davis, made to  last year when he noted grades were especially good in the third quarter and that they would probably come down to reserve grade in ensuing quarters

    Bisha Gold Mine
  • Sunridge Gold Corporation (Canadian) is exploring VMS deposits at Debarwa, Adi Nefas and Emba Derho, as well as the Gupo gold deposit. Previous drilling at Gupo has outlined an inferred gold resource of 1,965 million t at a grade of 2,99 g/t Au or 189 000 oz of gold. In January 2007 Sunridge was going to implement the following drilling program: Known Deposits: Emba Derho zinc, copper, gold VMS deposit: 10,000 metres in-fill and 5,000 metres exploration and extension drilling. Currently 103 holes have been drilled over a strike length of 900 metres, a width up to 300 metres and a depth of approximately 300 metres. Assays have been reported for 71 holes and further assays for holes 72 to 103 will be reported as received by the Company. Debarwa copper, gold, zinc VMS deposit: 400 metres for water well and geotechnical drilling. An independent resource estimate was expected by January 2007 and a Preliminary Assessment Study by mid-February, 2007. Adi Nefas zinc, gold, copper VMS deposit: 2,000 metres for in-fill drilling and a down-hole EM conductor program. An independent resource estimate was expected in January 2007 and a Preliminary Assessment Study by mid-February, 2007. New Targets: Kodadu VMS target: 4,000 metres exploration drilling. To date, seven holes have been drilled and assays will be reported as received by the Company. Adi Moussa VMS target: 2,000 metres exploration drilling. Large gravity anomaly produced by recent regional gravity survey adjacent to known mineralized outcrop. Adi Rassi VMS target: 1,000 metres exploration drilling. Large gravity anomaly produced by recent regional gravity survey adjacent to known mineralized outcrop. Adi Lamza VMS target: 1,000 metres exploration drilling. Large gravity anomaly produced by recent regional gravity survey adjacent to known mineralized outcrop.
  • Sanu Resources Ltd (SNU.V)has four prospecting licenses (Guluj, Fanco, Kerkebet, and Dieba River) in western Eritrea.
  • Northern Mining Explorations (MDN) holds a 75% equity interest in Eritrean Minerals Corporation ("EMC"), an Eritrean corporation holding mineral rights in Eritrea. The remaining 25% of EMC is owned by African Minerals Incorporated, a local Eritrean exploration company founded and controlled by Dr. Seife Berhe, an Eritrean geologist. EMC holds 100% ofthree exploration targets in Eritrea, comprising: The Harab Suit exploration licenses, covering an area of approximately 205 km² located in the north west of Eritrea, within mixed sedimentary, volcanic and mafic-ultramafic intrusive terrain. The property contains several outcropping shear zones, and includes the abandoned Tamanti Gold Mine developed in the late 1930's during the Italian colonial period. This mine was developed on a large ridge underlain by outcropping sheared and altered quartz porphyry diorite, containing pervasive quartz veining and pyrite-chalcopyrite disseminations. The main shear zone of interest outcrops for a strike distance of 9 km and has an apparent width of 35 to 110 m. Geologic mapping indicates that this shear contains gold mineralization at various intervals along its length. During May and June 2006, MDN Northern Mining completed a program of 37 reverse circulation drill holes on two targets for a total of 3,029 metres. The Seroa Hill exploration license is located to the north of the important town of Keren, northwest of the Eritrean capital Asmara, and covers 14 km². Within the license there are a number of areas of intense hydrothermal alteration, breccia formation and quartz veining. The main area of interest is centred on the Enjahai gold-polymetallic occurrence. The Matite license covers 25 km² to the north of the town of Nacfa and is underlain by a sequence of Proterozoic felsic volcanic tuffs. The area has no history of previous significant exploration or mining. The main gold occurrence of interest is the Wina Breccia discovered by EMC, which consists of a small 6x9 m outcrop of very high grade quartz-carbonate-base metal mineralisation within a mafic to intermediate composition dyke at the contact with silicified felsic volcanic tuffs. Sampling carried out in 1998 confirmed the very high-grade nature of the gold mineralization with values up to 78 g/t over 2 m and even higher grab samples.
  • Sub-Saharan Resources (Anvel Mining has an 18% stake in Sub-Saharan Resources) is exploring the Zara gold project in Eritrea which covers an area of 196 square km and is situated in northern Eritrea approximately 160 km northwest of the capital city, Asmara. The estimated resource is 760,000 oz of gold.
  • Eritrea awarded gold, iron and base metal exploration licenses to Chinese companies in October, 2007.
    A license for the country's Augaro gold mine was granted to Beijing Donia Resources Co and Eritrea-China Exploration and Mining Share. The company was formed earlier in 2007 as a joint venture between the state-owned China National Geological & Mining Corporation and the Eritrea National Mining Corporation.

Oil and Natural Gas

  • Hydrocarbon exploration, primarily offshore in the Red Sea, began in the 1960's when Eritrea was still federated with Ethiopia. In 1995, Eritrea signed a production sharing contract (PSC) with U.S.-based Anadarko Petroleum (Anadarko) for the offshore Zula Block. Anadarko signed a second PSC for the offshore Edd Block, located south of the Zula Block, in September 1997. Anadarko announced, in December 1997, that it had reached an agreement with ENI/Agip (Agip) to swap interests in exploration acreage. Anadarko received a 25 percent interest in a Tunisian block operated by Agip, and Agip received a 30 percent share in the 6.7-million acre Zula Block and 30 percent interest in the Edd Block. Burlington Resources, a U.S.-based independent who later merged with ConocoPhillips, later joined the consortium by acquiring a 20 percent interest in both acreages. Anadarko's first two exploration wells, both drilled on the Zula Block, were unsuccessful. In January 1999, a third dry well, Edd-1 on the Edd Block, was drilled. Citing the disappointing exploration results, Anadarko and its partners ceased exploration activities and relinquished their rights to the offshore blocks.
  • Another attempt also did not meet with success. In May 2001, U.S.-firm CMS Energy signed an exploration agreement for a 14,000-square kilometer block in northeastern Eritrea, but the company did not find oil. CMS Energy sold its exploration interests to Perenco S.A. of France in late 2002.
  • Australia-based South Boulder Mines has handed the reclusive state of Eritrea an increased stake in its Colluli potash mine. South Boulder, which had held a 90 percent stake in the potash project, said in May 2013, it and the Eritrean Mining Corporation (ENAMCO) would now each hold a 50 percent stake of a newly formed company, Colluli Mining Share Company. South Boulder said lin 2012 the asset held 1.08 billion tonnes of 18 percent grade - or 194 million tonnes of contained potash.