Geological Survey of Ethiopia
P.O. Box 2302, Addis Ababa
Phone:   +251-1-46 33 21      
Fax: +251-1-46 33 26 

CIA Factbook
Political rights and civil liberties (Freedom House)
Arabic-English online dictionary
Travel and accommodation

The contribution of mining to total exports in 2010 amounted to 8.9%

Ethiopia Mining News

Source: CIA Factbook


Rocks of Precambrian age underlie large parts of northern and western Ethiopia and smaller areas in the south and east of the country. The Precambrian geology is poorly understood pending modern investigations but appears to comprise Archaen to Proterozoic metamorphic rocks, including granulites, all of which have been effected by the Neoproterozoic Pan African event. Ethiopia lies at the northern tip of the continental part of the East Africa Rift System. Voluminous piles of mainly Cenozoic volcanic rocks occur in large parts of western Ethiopia. Mesozoic and Cenozoic sediments occupy the east of the country unconformably overlying peneplaned basement.. The rift valley is covered with relatively young lacustrine sediments and volcanics. Volcanic rocks are more extensively developed in Ethiopia than anywhere else in the East African Rift and are most thickly developed in the central region and along a N-S axis situated immediately west of the main rift. The volcanics are characteristically alkaline, typified by fissure basalts of the Trap Series which can reach 2000m in thickness at the plateau-rift margin(s).


Ethiopia’s minerals sector contributes less than 1% to the country’s GDP. Ethiopia’s main mineral export is gold. In 2008 gold production increased by 10 per cent for the country to become the ninth largest producer in Africa. Silver production increased by 19.5 per cent for the same period. Ethiopia is the fifth largest producer of tantalum in Africa (8.2%) and accounted for 4 per cent of global production. Tantalum production had decreased by nearly 30 per cent in 2008. The country is a relatively small producer of natural soda ash, salt, gypsum, opal, kaolin, feldspar and construction materials. Ethiopia additionally has small reserves of platinum, copper, potash, lignite, crude petroleum and natural gas. At the beginning of 2009 proven reserves of natural gas stood at 24.92 billion m3.
The Ministry of Mines has granted 200 mineral exploration licenses since 1992. In 2011-2012 the mining sector earned 618 million dollars from mineral exports- 2/3 coming from artisanal mining. The mining sector is expected to generate 2 billion dollars by 2024 employing 8000 citizens

Maps and images

Mining in Ethiopia

The mineral sector was opened up to private investors in 1991 with new legislation and the Mineral Operations Regulations in 1994 which helped to create an environment conducive to private investment.  The development of Ethiopia’s mineral wealth is one of the Government’s leading economic objectives which serves as one of the catalysts for the export-orientated development strategy in place. Geological surveys indicate that Ethiopia is endowed with a variety of mineral resources.

Metallic minerals include gold, which is the most developed with a huge potential of exploration. A proven reserve of natural gas, in the amount of 880 billion cubic feet, has been found which is ready for commercial exploration, whilst deposits of platinum (and other PGE), tantalite, iron, copper, lead, zinc, nickel and other base metals do exist. Petroleum and gemstones have also been identified. Industrial and construction minerals such as quartz, feldspar, mica, kyanite, kaolin, talc, chromites, graphite, magnesite, industrial olivine, marble, and granite, potash, rock salt, soda ash, sulphur, silica sand, diatomite and bentonite have been identified and some are under production. Such mineral wealth, in combination with a skilled and highly motivated workforce guarantees a thriving and profitable mining sector. The Mining Proclamation recognises the significant role of private investment in capital formation, technology acquisition and marketing of minerals. 

Current mining operations and investments 

Gold is considered to be the mineral with the most potential for mining investment and the Government estimates that production could rise to 40 tonnes a year given sufficient investment.

The Legedembi primary gold mine, which has been transferred from public to private ownership, is the largest gold mine, while there are several  mines in the Gambella, Somali, Tigray, Amhara, Gambela, Benishangul and Suothern People’s region. Export of gold provided more than US$ 360 million in 2010. Revenue from gold exports is expected to increase as the price of gold is growing in the international market. Under this background, foreign and local investment is expected to increase. 

As a result of the conducive fiscal and legislative environment, the country is now enjoying the participation of both foreign and local investors in exploration and mining. To date the Ministry of Mines and Energy has granted 119 exploration licences of which 86 are foreign and 33 on joint venture basis and 52 mining licences of which 24 are foreign and 17 are on joint venture and 11 locally owned.

The total number of licences issued has reached 171 granted to 86 companies.  These are for gold and base metals, platinum, industrial and construction minerals, notably; potash, diatomite and high quality ceramics raw materials. Intensive exploration programmes are also being conducted for oil and gas, precious stones such as diamonds and sapphires and other gemstones in different parts of the country.

Foreign companies already investing in Ethiopia’s mining sector come from all over the world including the UK, China, South Africa, Canada, USA, Guyana, Italy and Norway. In 2009 foreign investment in the mining sector reached to US$ 1billion. 

Gold in Ethiopia

Gold Home

Gold occurrences are widespread in Ethiopia and exploitation of placer gold dates back at least 3500 years where the Egyptians sailed along the Red Sea and travelled up into what later became Ethiopia to trade gold. During the following millenniums large amounts of gold were extracted from placer deposits. Today two greenstone belt-hosted gold mines in South Ethiopia are in operation and feasibility studies are underway of greenstone hosted gold prospects in Western Ethiopia.

Southern greenstone belt
This area hosts two active gold mines both owned by Midroc Gold Mine Plc. One combined openpit and underground mine at Lega Dembi and one underground mine at East Sakaro.
Lega Dembi openpit mine. This is an operating mine with proven gold reserves of ca. 66 tonnes with an average grade of 3.7 g/t. The mine began pilot-scale operation in 1987 and upgraded to industrial scale in 1989. Following the new investment policy of Ethiopia, the mine was privatised in 1998 after extraction of ca. 12 tonnes of gold by the government. Currently the annual production of the mine is 3500 kg of gold per year and its life time is expected to be only a few years.Lega Dembi underground mine. Underground work began in 2000, and to-day the present length of tunnels is 8.8 km. The gold reserves are estimated to be ca. 11 tonnes with an average grade of 3.59 g/t. The actual operation started in June 2009 and has an average annual gold production of 1086 kg. The life time of the underground mine is estimated to be only a few years.
East Sakaro underground mine. A feasibility study finalised in January 2008 by Midroc Gold Mine shows that the mineable gold reserve is ca. 18 tonnes with an average grade of 10.42 g/t. The study only includes two gold quartz vein systems. However, exploration work has identified very encouraging results indicating more gold than expected. This mine is situated less than 5 km from the openpit mine and the ore will be trucked to and treated in the Lega Dembi plant.

Western Greenstone belt
The most promising gold occurrences are located in the Tulu-Kapi and Ankore areas. The gold mineralisation in the Tulu-Kapi main area is associated with  a sheared, altered syenite unit trending in NW-SE directions and dipping  shallowly towards south-west. The mineralogical studies showed that the  paragenesis of the gold accumulation in the Tulu-Kapi area is influenced by  two stages of albitisation processes followed by sulphide-carbonate-quartz  and gold mineralised fluids along structures. The gold is always associated  with sulphides. Metallurgical tests showed that the gold recovery will be  more than 95% on a gravity-flotation-leach circuit with cyanide treatment  for 24 to 36 hours.
In May 2010, after 30 RC holes were drilled by Nyota Minerals Limited,  the resource update was conducted by South African based Venmyn Rand  consultants, covering an area 600 m long, 450 m wide and 200 m deep. This  nupdate resulted in inferred resources of 46 tonnes of gold with an average  gold grade of 1.68 g/t at a cut-off of 0.5 g/t Au. (Source: Geological Survey Ethiopia)

A recent survey increased estimates of gold resources to 500 tonnes. The government says production could rise to 40 tonnes a year from just over four tonnes last year, earning the country around $1.7bn (£1.1bn) at current prices. 
  • MIDROC Gold Mine plc (owned by Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al-Amoudi) operates the Lega Dembi mine in southern Ethiopia. Production averages 3,5 t gold per year. It is an open pit operation and reportedly has reserves of 70 00 kg gold. MIDROC announced in February, 2008, that drilling of the Sakari deposit indicated a resource of 17 250 kg of gold. Wardell Armstrong International is doing the exploration on behalf of MIDROC. Gold was discovered at Sakari in 1975 by prospectors and subsequently confirmed by Russian geologists. MIDROC is also exploring at Metekel Zone to the west in the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State and at Ulaulo, south of Lega Dembi mine.

Lega Dembi Gold Mine
  • National Mining Corporation (also owned owned by Saudi tycoon Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi, who was born in Ethiopia) announced a mineable gold discovery at Dawa Dagiti in southern Oromia region. The company has concession right to explore for minerals in 85 square kilometres in the area. The company was also studying evidence of large silver deposits in northern Amhara and Tigray regions.
  • Nyota Minerals Limited is focused on the exploration and concurrent development of Tulu Kapi in Western Ethiopia. The Tulu Kapi mine lies in the northern sector of Arabian-Nubian Shield which is depicted as a granite-greenstone terrain. The deposits of the mine are hosted in Upper Proterozoic age intrusive rocks which cut through a volcano-sedimentary succession to form mafic and sericite schists. Gold mineralisation is hosted by a coarse-grained syenite pluton into which a stream of dolerite dykes and sills were intruded. The mine also hosts Precambrian to Tertiary age group rocks. The Precambrian rocks comprise granite, low rated volcano-sedimentary rocks consociated with mafic to ultramafic intrusions and meta intrusive rocks. Gold mineralisation occurs in veins, breccia and crackle zones of the Proterozoic syenites along with intrusions of porphyritic syenite, diorite and dolerite. It is affiliated with albitisation zones which contain quartz and sulphide veins. The ore present in the deposits is expected to contain gold mixed with pyrite and silicate gangue. The mine comprises four lode structures, designated 1, 2, 3 and 4, which are parallel to each other below the earth surface. The structures are separated by +60m or - 60m barren syenite area. The lode structures one and two contain a simple mineralogy consisting of gold along with pyrite, sphalerite and galena. The lode structures three and four comprise sulphide metals, sphalerite, galena, arsenopyrite, chalcopyrite as well as gold and pyrite. Total Inferred JORC Resource containing 1.46 million ounces of gold (15.96 million tonnes @ 2.84g/t gold).  The indicated resources of the Tulu Kapi mine as of July 2011 stand at 4.67 million tons (mt) graded at 3.04g/t Au. Inferred resources are estimated to be 11.29mt graded at 2.76g/t Au. The mine is expected to produce 100,000oz to 115,000oz of gold a year for the ten year initial life-of-mine. The Company is actively exploring several priority targets proximal to Tulu Kapi as well as regional gold targets in the northern blocks which Nyota believes have the potential to become future standalone projects. Nyota Minerals Limited, a British company, announced last week the discovery of a new gold anomaly at the Company's 100pc owned northern block exploration areas located in Western Ethiopia. Boka-West gold-in-soil anomaly extends for two kilometres in length and is up to 500m wide.
    Nyota, which found a reserve in Tulu Kapi, located in Oromia regional State has had an exploration license since May 2005. The presence of gold in Tulu Kapi has been known since the 1930s, when an Italian company conducted surface mining activities. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) along with the Ministry of Mines(MoM and Energy also conducted a detailed geological mapping and systematic exploration activities in 1970's.
    The delineation of a large target at Boka-West is testament to the success of our systematic exploration programme in the Northern Blocks, said Richard Chase, Chief Executive Officer of the Company.
    Nyota applied in May 2011 for a 10-year license to start mining on 11,000sqkm area. The company submitted technical feasibility study, confirming the presence of the gold reserves, and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA).

    Gold mineralisation at Tulu Kapi is associated with albitisation zones which comprise quartz and sulphide veins. Image courtesy of Nyota Minerals
  • Minerva Resources plc is drilling extensions of mineralised zones at Tulu Kapi. The Company is targeting a 500m section of a larger gold zone delineated by numerous mine workings and recent exploration activity. The drilling to date confirmed that there are three broadly continuous sub-parallel zones of mineralisation, which dip to the southwest. Each of the three zones appears to be approximately 10m thick, with good strike and depth continuity. In addition to further drilling at Tulu Kapi, drilling will also be undertaken at the nearby Guji prospect and a number of satellite prospects close to Tulu Kapi and Guji.

Gold nuggets from soil at Tulu Kapi
  • WCP Resources Ltd is exploring the Agusha-Gumu Dunga licence which is 100% owned by Addis Resources Development Pty Ltd (ARDCO) and is located 5 kilometres to the northwest of Asosa, the administrative capital of the Benishangul - Gumuz regional state of western Ethiopia. The licence, MLN-35-EL-95, covers an area of 19.76 square kilometres and lies within a greenstone belt having favourable geological and structural settings for gold mineralization.
    Four "target areas", comprising shear-hosted gold mineralisation have been defined at Tsilfa, Hulook, Kushmangal and Gumu Dunga. They have been subjected to initial and follow-up detailed early-stage exploration. Geochemical soil results have outlined significant Au anomalies.
    In particular, the Gumu Dunga gold prospect consists of intensely veined and altered rocks over an area 2,900 metres long by 350 metres wide, defined by loam, soil, rock chip, crush and channel sampling and occur in association with galena-chalcopyrite-pyrite mineralisation.
  • ASCOM, Citadel Capital's geology and mining business, announced in January, 2008, the acquisition of gold concessions in northern Ethiopia near Eritrea and the city of Mekele. The concessions, located on four different plots of land are owned by a newly established company called Nubia Mining Development plc, a partnership between ASCOM Ethiopia, which owns 55%, and Ezana Mining, a private-sector Ethiopian mining company, which holds 45%.
  • Avion Resources Corporation (TSX VENTURE:AVR) completed its purchase of the exploration assets in the North and West regions of Ethiopia from Aberdeen International Inc. Avion has purchased the rights to a 100% undivided interest in exploration licences in Ethiopia. The area covers approximately 2,674 km2 in the Northern Regional State of Tigray and 1,766 km2 in the Western regional State of Asosa. The exploration licenses lie within the southern extension of the metal-rich Nubian-Arabian Greenstone belt. Over 60 massive sulphide zones, including Nevsun's Bisha deposit and several gold deposits have been discovered in these greenstone belts.
  • Alecto Minerals plc holds a 1,953 sq km Aysid-Metekel gold exploration licence in the  prospective Aysid-Metekel region of north western Ethiopia, 600 km NW from the capital city, Addis Ababa. The licence, which is located within the prime Arabian-Nubian shield on the Western Akobo Greenstone belt, has been granted for an initial three year period during which time the main objective of exploration by Alecto will be to define and evaluate targets of merit. Six exploration targets have been identified by Alecto through an initial reconnaissance type exploration programme and the evaluation of historical data for the project. The Company is currently developing a further and staged programme of exploration. The licence is located approximately 50 km north and north-east, respectively, of the highly prospective Towchester and Brantham tenements of AIM quoted Nyota Minerals Limited and approximately 80 km from the Fiti skarn gold deposit discovered by MIDROC Gold Mine plc, the owner-operator of the Lege Dembi gold mine in southern Ethiopia. The licence area is located amongst several existing gold exploration licences in western Ethiopia and the region is believed to be geologically favourable to host gold mineralisation in economic quantities. Gold mineralisation has been recorded in three principle mineralising environments/styles: Firstly associated with altered syenite intrusions; secondly, young igneous bodies intruded into marble country rock generating skarn gold type mineralisation and finally, fault-shear hosted gold mineralisation in metasediments. The area comprises of Precambrian basement rocks that range from low to high grade and partly covered by Tertiary volcanics. Though there are several suggested and used classification methods of dividing the Precambrian rocks of the area the most practical would be the division based on low grade high grade criteria. The high grade belts consist of high grade pre Pan African rocks, consisting of biotite-amphibole gneisses with intercalations of quartzofeldspathic gneisses and quartzites. The other major subdivision is the low grade belt characterised by metavolcano-sedimentary rocks. Alecto’s exploration licence area lies within the metallic minerals occurrence belt along which the newly identified gold resources of Tulu Kapi is also found. Currently there are a number of multinational to junior mineral exploration companies actively exploring for gold, precious metals and industrial minerals in other regions of Ethiopia. MIDROC, the owner-operator of the Lege Dembi mine in southern Ethiopia discovered the Fiti skarn gold deposit some 80 km to the south east of Alecto Minerals’ licence. Historical reconnaissance exploration and geological mapping was conducted by the United Nations Development Programme UNDP in the 1970s, identifying a number of syn–late orogenic fault related gold mineralisation shows within the licence. A substantial number of alluvial–eluvial gold shows were also noted. Additionally, regional airborne geophysical surveys conducted can be used in mineral exploration efforts in the area. Several mineral exploration projects have been launched by the Geological Survey of Ethiopia. Among these projects the Guba-Oda integrated mineral exploration project, and a regional air borne geophysical survey conducted in Benshangul Gumuz are of note, the data from which can be used in mineral exploration efforts in the area. Additionally, the Beles Dinder Ethio-Nor Gold and Base Metals Exploration project was undertaken on the proposed exploration area. During this time, reconnaissance geological mapping, geochemical drainage sampling, heavy mineral concentrate sampling, and extensive rock chip sampling was conducted. This work outlined important geochemical gold anomalies and gold pathfinder minerals that deserve further detailed exploration work and can be used as starting points for the proposed exploration. Alecto acquired the 945.5 sq km Waya Boda gold licence in the highly prospective central-southern Adola greenstone belt in southern Ethiopia in November 2011. The exploration licence is valid for three years and has good access to infrastructure. Importantly, there are multiple areas with extensive strikes open along strike and at depth, due to extensive historical and current artisanal high grade quartz vein gold mining activity. This provides the Company with ready made initial exploration targets for future exploration. The central-southern Adola greenstone belt comprises a series of meta-volcanics and meta-sediments intruded by a sequence of syn- and post-tectonic granitoids and syenites; these, in turn, are overlain by sequences of sediments. The region, which also hosts MIDROC’s Lege Dembe gold mine, is characterised by shearing, faulting and folding creating a complex geological profile. These shears, faults, thrusts and associated quartz veins have historically been a source of gold production in this part of Ethiopia. Alluvial and bedded gold deposits are located in the region but mineralisation styles in the bedded deposits are varied and complicated and appear to be structurally controlled. In summary, interest is focussed largely on metavolcanics and associated intrusives. The suite of rocks that make up the Birbir Group host 90% of the known gold and base metal mineralisation in Ethiopia. A review of geological maps shows the clear relationship between known deposits and the metavolcanic and schist zones. The United Nations Development Programme (‘UNDP’) notes that the metavolcanic-metasedimentary belt is “structurally favoured for the emplacement of other intrusives, granodiorites, some alkaline bodies, and younger granites, some of which are mineralised”. In terms of former UNDP reconnaissance, the organisation also states that “numerous gold occurrences that have been noted during surveys are located in these areas”. Mineralisation in the Wayu Boda licence area currently consists of two minerals: Gold: vein / shear hosted gold in the north of the licence and Emerald: hosted in quartz / pegmatite veins in the south of the licence. The gold at Wayu Boda is currently being extracted in two locations by artisans from quartz veins and shears at Wayo Boda in the north of the licence area. Alluvial gold has also allegedly been extracted from nearby drainage ditches. Due to the drought conditions in the region little water is available for panning gold. A number of the workings are more than 25 metres deep and follow the steeply westerly dipping quartz veins. There are two spatially distinct mine sites; one 270m to the north of the miner’s village and the other located some 1,000m to the SSW. The northern pits occur along a strike length of approximately 70m at a bearing 022 – 202 degrees. The dip direction, when non vertical, is orientated towards 270 degrees. The northern workings are located on the western side of a subdued hill with little outcrop or obvious quartz veins and associated shears. This deposit appears to be open both to the north and south. The southern pits, located in a small valley, are more extensive, occurring along 140m strike length with a north south strike and again a slight westerly dip when beds are not vertical. The northern extension of the quartz veins disappears under recent alluvial cover. The southern extension was observed to be untested by the miners. The quartz veins and shear zone were out cropping in many locations and mineralisation appears to be open to the south. When seen in plain view they appear not to be part of the same structure but faulting may be a factor in this area. The visible gold mineralisation is structurally controlled and appears to be confined to vertical and sub vertical quartz veins and shears. The ore rock was observed to be concordant with the dip and dip directions of the country rock, dipping very steeply westward or vertical. The width of the main quartz vein is approximately 0.5m and the shear zone approximately 1.5m wide. Visible gold is common in the quartz veins but it is not known if the adjacent shear zones or country rock are mineralised. No rock samples have yet been geochemically analysed using any modern methods and this will be essential to show if they also contain gold mineralisation.
  • Sheba Exploration plc explored the Amora Hill gold prospect in 2005.
  • No information on the Adola gold mine in southern Ethiopia.
  • No information on the Bure and Abergele gold and base metal prospects.

Graphite occurs in the Moyale area, located 750 km south of Addis Ababa, on the Kenyan border The graphite occurrence is about 6 km west of Moyale town. Investigations of the Moyale graphite have comprised mapping the graphite body by geological and geophysical methods, analysis of the graphite carbon content, and determination of the size and texture of the graphite grains. Preliminary efforts have also been made to concentrate the graphite by flotation techniques.
Graphite occurrences in the Moyale area are hosted by quartzite, quartz-feldspar-mica schist and rarely by amphibole schist. Pegmatitic graphite bodies, though less common, usually occur discordant to the main schistosity.
The average grade of the Moyale graphite schist ranges between 7 and 11% (mean 9.1%). The Moyale graphite schists therefore have moderately low, graphite carbon contents. However, the graphite grains have their longest axes greater than 100 µm, which suggests that flake size is optimal and that it is technically feasible to produce graphite concentrates using the available technology. The Moyale area contains an indicated mineral resource of about 450 000 tonnes of graphite. With one or two exseptions the geomorphological conditions are also favourable for open pit mining.

Ethiopia's current proven hydrocarbon reserves are minimal, but the potential to increase reserves to commercial viability is seen as promising. The country's geology is similar to that of its oil-producing neighbors to the east (on the Arabian peninsula) and the west (Sudan). In April 2001, the Ministry of Mines and Energy reported that hydrocarbon seeps had been discovered in several regions. The government plans to conduct feasibility studies to establish the extent and viability of the deposits.
Hydrocarbon exploration in Ethiopia's Ogaden Basin began over 80 years ago (Standard Oil in 1920). The Ethiopian government formed the Calub Gas Share Company (CGSC) to develop the fields. In 1994, the World Bank approved a $74 million loan to develop the Ogaden Basin fields. The Ethiopian Privatization Agency (EPA) put the CGSC up for privatization in 1998, but the EPA, citing weak bids, withdrew the tender. In December 1999, Houston-based Sicor Inc announced that it had signed a $1.4 billion joint-venture deal to develop the Calub natural gas project. Under the terms of the agreement, Gasoil Ethiopia Project (GEP), the joint-venture firm, will acquire 95 percent of the CGSC under the Ethiopian government's privatization law. Currently, 5 percent of the CGSC is held by local private investors. The Ethiopian government will hold a 20 percent interest in GEP with Sicor holding the remaining share. In December 2002, the Russian state-owned companies Methanol and Stroytransgas were negotiating with the Government to buy 50% of CGSC.
GEP plans to construct a 375-mile, 24-inch pipeline to transmit natural gas to the town of Awash, which is approximately 75 miles east of the capital Addis Ababa. At Awash, plans call for construction of a cryogenic liquids plant and two gas-to-liquids process systems with capacity to process 200 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d) of natural gas. The end products would be synthetic fuels and petrochemical feedstocks plus steam to generate electricity and help produce 20,000 bbl/d of potable water. A planned refinery would produce products including diesel, gasoline, kerosene and jet fuels. The gas-to-liquids system would also produce some 500 tons of ammonia per day as feedstock for a urea plant to be constructed. Construction of the pipeline had originally been planned for 2002; however, gas development in Ogaden has not yet begun.

In June 2003, the Ethiopian government signed an oil exploration deal with Petronas for 5,800 square mile tract in Gambela, in the far western part of the country. The region is closely related to the Sudan oil fields. Petronas has committed to investing in regional infrastructure, employing local staff, improving health services, and developing the skills of the ministry of Mines. Petronas is also interested in natural gas exploration in Ogaden, but no official plans have yet been made.
  • Oil proved reserves: 214,000 bbl (1 January 2002)
  • Natural gas proved reserves: 24.92 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)


  • Minerva Resources plc, through its subsidiary Golden Prospect Mining Company, owns 51% of the Yubdo Gold and Platinum Mining Company (Yubdo Mining), Ethiopia. Platinum has been mined in Yubdo since the early 1930's. Yubdo Mining is the sole platinum producing company in Ethiopia. It is a small scale operation, currently producing approximately 100 ounces of platinum a year. The Yubdo Mine is 520km almost due west from Addis Ababa. Minerva Resources is investigating the viability of increased mechanisation and expansion of the current mining operations.
    Minerva Resources, through its subsidiary GPMC, entered into a joint venture with a local entrepreneur in 2001 , Mr Benti Tassisse (47%), to mine the Yubdo platinum deposit. The mining licences cover 27.26 km2, within the Yubdo Exploration Licence, 100% held by Minerva Resources. The remaining 2% of YPDG is held by Dr Kebede Belete. Minerva Resources has managed the project since July 2005 and produced 150 ounces (77 ounces attributable) for the eighteen months to the end of 2006 through test production. The Company is currently commissioning a Pilot Gravity treatment plant to improve gravity recoveries from the ore. The Pilot Gravity plant is expected increase recoveries from 5% to 13% and allow throughput to double. Annual production should therefore increase to a rate of over 500 ounces per annum. In 2006 Minerva Resources carried out a programme of pitting over the ridge above and to the southwest of the present small-scale mining operation southeast of Yubdo village, in order to estimate the resource in this small area. Thirty pits were completed on a 60m x 60m square grid covering an area of 420m x 240m. Each pit was hand dug at a nominal 75cm diameter down to decomposed bedrock encountered at an average depth of about 10m. Channel sampling at one metre intervals down the side of the pits returned platinum values ranging up to 1.8 g/t Pt, with acceptable repeatability of duplicate samples suggesting that conventional sampling and assay procedures are effective for establishing the total platinum resource.
    Based on the results of the pitting GPMC has used a polygonal method to estimate a resource of 23,760 ounces (793kg) of platinum in 1,470,000 tonnes of laterite material with an average grade of 0.54 g/t platinum within the limited area covered by the pitting programme. Importantly, the average grade of the laterite below a barren 1.5m soil layer was 0.82g/t platinum. The pitting programme also indicated that both laterite thickness and platinum grades are lower over the ridge area than on its flanks. Geological mapping shows that potentially mineralised laterite extends along strike for several kilometres on the Yubdo ultramafic intrusion. Mapping of bedrock exposed in the pitting and in outcrop shows fractures containing quartz-carbonate with pyrite in the form of boxworks and planar fracture fillings occurring in zones trending east of north with generally steep westward dips, cutting the serpentinised dunites and pyroxenites of the Yubdo Ultramafic Complex. Pit sampling shows PGM values in this material relative to fresh rock which support the contention that PGMs are concentrated by hydrothermal action associated with zones of fracturing.

The local partner at the Yubdo Platinum Mine

Potash has been  mined in in the Tigray's Dallol area in Ethiopia since the 14th Century. A railway from the port of Mersa Fatma in Eritrea to a point 28 km from Dallol was completed in April 1918. Built from 1917-1918, using the 60cm-gauge Decauville system it transported salt from the "Iron Point" rail terminal near Dallol, via Kululli to the port.

Potash production is said to have reached about 50,000 metric tons after the railway was constructed. Production was stopped after World War I owing to large-scale supplies from Germany, USA, and USSR. Unsuccessful attempts to reopen production were made in the period 1920-1941. Between the years 1925-29 an Italian company mined 25,000 tons of sylvite, averaging 70% KCl, which was transported by rail to Mersa Fatma. After the Second World War, the British administration dismantled the railway and removed all traces of it.
The Dallol Co. of Asmara sold a few tons of salt from this site to India in 1951-1953. In the 1960s, the Parsons Company of the USA, a mining company, conducted a series of geological surveys at Dallol. By 1965, about 10,000 holes had been drilled at 65 locations.
  •   Yara Dallol BV, a subsidiary of Yara International, is finalizing a potash exploration project in the Afar Regional State with an outlay of 100 million dollars. Sanjay Singh Rathore, executive director of Yara Dallol BV, in September 2014, said that his company has been prospecting for potash in the Afar Dallol depression. Sanjay said that his company had discovered a substantial amount of potash in its concession. The company has already undertaken a feasibility study. "We are now in the process to complete the definitive feasibility study. If approved we will be producing 0.6 million tons of potash annually by applying solution mining," Singh said. If the definitive feasibility study is approved by the board of the company, Yara will build a potash mine in the Dallol depression. It will also construct a potash fertilizer factory. The total cost of the project is estimated at one billion dollars. Drilling activity started at site in 2010, and most drilling and drilling-related activities were completed in 2012. The project development phase will be finalized with the Definitive Bankable Feasibility study which is expected to be finalized soon. According to Yara, the study will be the basis for a decision on whether to proceed with project execution and realization, with production start-up 2-3 years thereafter. According to the company, the estimated capacity for the Dallol project is 1-1.5 million tons of potash per year, with resources of more than 30 years mining. Yara hopes to supply ten percent of the current global potash market. Yara International is an agricultural chemicals giant that has been supplying fertilizers to Ethiopia. Allana Potash of Canada is also in the process to build a potash mine in the Dallol depression. The company secured a mining license from the Ethiopian ministry of mines a year ago. A local company, Ethio-Potash Corporation is also exploring the Dallol depression. According to a recent World Bank study on the Ethiopian extractive industry the mining sector accounts for around one percent of the Ethiopian economy, which is expected to reach 10 percent in ten years time. The study says potash is likely to be one of the first industrial minerals to contribute to the growth.
  • Allana Potash Corporation is a Canadian publicly traded corporation currently developing its previously explored Dallol Potash Project, in Ethiopia. Total Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources of 1.297 Billion tonnes from all four potash horizons with an average grade of 19.3% KCl for a total of 251 Million tonnes of contained KCl.; An additional Inferred Mineral Resource of 588.2 Million tonnes from all four potash horizons with an average grade of 18.6% KCl for a total of 109 Million tonnes of contained KCl; Total Measured and Indicated Sylvinite Resource of 171.4 Million tonnes with an average grade of 31% KCl for a total of 53 Million tonnes of contained KCl.; Total Inferred Sylvinite Resource of 46.6 Million tonnes with an average grade of 30.3% KCl for a total of 14 Million tonnes of KCl. (The foregoing mineral resource estimates are as at June 14, 2012.) Allana may begin exporting potash at the end of 2014 and produce 2 million tons a year by 2018.  Allana Potash announced in May 2013 that its drilling results of the Dallol project could be extended beyond the original resource estimate. The company expects the results to increase its share prices. Results from drill holes at the company's Dallol property in Ethiopia's north-eastern Danakil Depression showed a mineralization grade as high as 52.4pc potassium chloride over 0.80 metres in a zone rich with sylvinite - an important ore for potash production. Drilling at the sylvinite zone showed 2.70 metres of mineralized ore with a grade of 39.38pc potassium chloride starting at a depth of 254.40 metres, according to the press release issued by the company. Allana Potash is a publicly traded corporation which focuses on the acquisition and development of potash assets internationally, with its major focus on a previously explored potash resource in Ethiopia. Allana controls 160SqKm of the Danakhil Depression at Dallol, the site of extensive historic potash exploration
Ethiopian (Danakhil) Potash Project, Afar, Ethiopia

Danakhil potash project is located in Ethiopia's north-eastern Danakhil depression, a desert area in the region of Afar. The project initially included three potash concessions covering an area of approximately 150 square kilometres. A fourth concession covering 11 square kilometres was acquired from Haro Exploration in 2010. It includes two deposits: the Mushley deposit and the smaller Crescent deposit.

The project is owned by Allana Potash, which began phase one drilling on 5 April 2010. The drilling programme continued through 2010 and 2011, exploring potential potassium mineralisation in the concessions. China Investment Corporation is considering investing in the project.

Tesla-IMC International conducted a 2D seismic survey on the project from October to December 2010. The feasibility study of the project was awarded to ERCOSPLAN in September 2011. The preliminary economic assessment of the project was completed in November 2011.

Reserves and geology of the potash project

The deposit contains an estimated 588.2 million tons of inferred potash mineral resources according to the revised estimates reported in June 2012. The composite grade of the resources has been estimated at 18.6% KCI. The total measured and indicated resources are estimated at 1.29 billion tons at 19.3% KCI. The mine lies within the Danakhil depression, a northern extension of the Afar depression.

The north-west / south-east striking depression extends across 200km from Lake Badda in the north-west to Lake Acori in the south-east. The geological structure of the depression is ten kilometres wide in the north and broadens up to 70km in the south. It is characterised by elevations as low as 50m to 128m below sea level.

Towards the north-west, the Danakhil depression is surrounded by the Danakil Alps. The Alps, with 1,000m elevations, contain a 40-70km-wide horst structure that divides the depression from the Red Sea. The south-western border of the depression has elevations of 2,100m.

A 1,000m series of evaporite is formed close to Red Sea due to the high rates of subsidence. The shoulders of the Danakil Alps and Ethiopian highlands include gneisses and phyllites belonging to the Precambrian age. It also comprises Jurassic-age sediments and granites, and intruded basalts belonging to the Palaeozoic and Neogene age.

The border zone between the highland and depression consists of Tertiary to Quaternary alluvial fan sediments. Largely unconsolidated, the sediments interfinger and lie above the Pleistocene and Holocene sediments of the depression.

Basement rocks of the deposit consist of gneisses, phyllitic schists, limestones, sandstones and conglomerates of the Palaeozoic and the Precambrian age. Found mostly in the eastern, western and border areas of the zone, the basement rocks do not outcrop. They are overlain by a series of Mesozoic rocks, including Adigrat Sandstones, antalo limestones, marls and upper sandstones. It is overlain by a series of tertiary and quaternary rocks.

The structure of the potash members found within the deposit dip gently by less than 50 in the north-east direction. The deposit is segmented into blocks depending on the thickness, grade and depth of the surface of the horizons.

Mineralisation at the Danakhil potash project

The deposit hosts four main potash bearing minerals including sylvite, carnallite, polyhalite and kainite. Three layers that comprise different constitution of potash minerals dominate the deposit.

The sylvinite layer ranges up to 11m in thickness and comprises large amounts of sylvite along with trace amounts of carnallite, anhydrite, clay and dolomite.

The kalnitite member that averages nine metres in thickness is dominated by kainite with lesser amounts of kieserite, carnallite and insoluble material.

Mining and processing at Ethiopia's deposits


The deposit will be mined using either solution or open pit mining methods. The feasibility of these options is being investigated. Hydrogeological investigations will reveal the potential of open pit mining for the deposit. Mining will be carried out either through solution mining or conventional mining, if the deposit's depth is increased further. A combination of solution and conventional mining techniques can also be adopted.

The alternatives currently under consideration for processing the minerals include MOP production from solution and conventional mining of the sylvinite member and production of SOP and K-Mg sulphate from conventional and solution mining of the kainitite member.

Under the solution mining method of the sylvinite member, MOP is produced from the brine received by solution mining of a sylvinite deposit. MOP production from conventional mining of a sylvinite deposit includes mechanical separation and hot leaching of the ore to form a KCI liquor that is further crystallised.

Under conventional mining of the kainitite member, SOP and K-Mg sulphite are produced by separating kainite and kieserite from halite. K-Mg sulphates are converted into K sulphates through reaction with additional KCI. SOP and K-Mg sulphite production through solution mining of the Kainitite member is not a proven process. A pilot operation is conducted before the composition of the final brine / slurry is determined.

Drilling at Allana Potash's project

The phase one drilling programme of the deposit was initially planned to include seven holes extending between 2,500m and 3,000m. The number of holes have however been increased with more potential potash mineralisation being identified.

Designed to confirm the accuracy of the historical drilling results besides increasing the resource limit, the drilling programme is being conducted at the potash horizons closer to the current resources. The potash horizons hosted in the centre of the evaporite basin are also being tested.

The other companies operating in the Danakil are Canada’s Nova Potash Corp. and Ethiopotash BV, while South Boulder Mines Ltd. has a concession across the border in Eritrea.
  • Ethiopian Potash Corporation is a Canadian company based in Toronto, Ontario, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and has 481 sq km of shallow mineralization potash development concessions in the fairway of the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia. The company has an existing 128 mil tonne resource at 21% potash. A 6,000m drilling campaign on shallow targets began in June 2011, targeting a 1 billion tonne+ resource by the end of Q1 2012. The company will then focus its drilling on a 3,000m program to delineate an additional open-pittable 1 bil tonnes on its Colluli prospect.

Economic geology of energy sources

Economic geology of nonmetal deposits

Economic geology of ore deposits

Economic geology, general

Economic geology, general, deposits

Economic geology, general, economics

Economic geology, geology of energy sources

Economic geology, geology of nonmetal deposits

Economic geology, geology of ore deposits