Direction des Mines et de la Géologie
Ministère des Mines, de l'Énergie et du Pétrole
BP 576, Libreville

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The contribution of mining to total exports in 2010 amounted to 6.8%

Gabon Mining News

Source: CIA Factbook


Gabon is located at the north-western margin of the Congo Craton. Three major stratigraphic units can be distinguished: Archean basement and Proterozoic supercrustals, which together cover about 75% of the country, and the Phanerozoic sedimentary cover, which is dominantly of Cretaceous age or younger. The oldest units belong to the cratonic basement of West Africa and comprise a granitoid terrane in the south, the Chaillu Massif, and a mixed granitoid-granulite-charnockite assemblage in the north. Proterozoic rocks comprise meta-sedimentary and volcanic of variable grade and a series of high-grade remobilised basement domes plus a major suite of dolerite dykes dated at 970Ma.


Gabon is the Africa’s second largest producer of manganese (28.4%), after South Africa, and is ranked fourth worldwide accounting for 11.4 per cent of total production. Output of manganese in 2008 decreased by 2.5 per cent but the country has the resources and mine capacity to increase production by at least 15 per cent. Other identified mineral resources include iron ore, niobium, gold, uranium, diamond and phosphate rock. A Chinese consortium is developing the 500 Mt Belinga Iron Ore deposit. Project development will necessitate a large investment in the associated infrastructure including a deep-water port, 560km of railway and two hydroelectric plants. Planned production of 30Mt / yr is expected to start in 2011-12.
Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) in Gabon - work of ASM-Protected Areas and Critical Ecosystems (PACE) project: the ASM-PACE Gabon Case Study Report:  "Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) "is a long practiced but frequently informal activity that can play a significant role in local development. However, it can also have negative impacts on the environment due to the mining practices and the presence of human settlements in sensitive environments.  In Gabon, the environmental stakes are particularly high. Gabon has the highest forest cover as a proportion of national surface area of any African country- its pristine forests have brought attention from global conservation organizations, and it has been dubbed the ‘Green Heart of Africa’. Indeed, Gabon is home to five of the world’s 200 Global eco-regions, nine Ramsar-listed sites, one World Heritage Site, and WWF considers the whole country to be a conservation priority "; read the full introduction to the case study on the ASM-PACE website.

Oil & Gas

Gabon’s mineral industry was dominated by the production of crude oil and manganese. The oil sector alone generated a full 50% of GDP. Heavy reliance on exploitation of its natural resources has made the country vulnerable to fluctuating world commodity prices. Gabon is the ninth largest oil producer in Africa accounting for 2.4 per cent of total output. Petroleum production increased by 2.6 per cent in 2008. This is against a backdrop of overall decline in output due to maturing oilfields. Natural gas production, which increased by 1.7 per cent, is relatively small (ranked 12th in Africa). As of the beginning of 2009 proven reserves of crude petroleum and natural gas stood at 272.8 Mt and 28.32 billion m3 respectively.
Oil, Gas Exploration
Société Nationale Petrolière Gabonaise (SNPG) is the national petroleum company of Gabon. The government of Gabon controls petroleum and mineral rights within the state. Gabon's oil reserves are onshore, shallow water and deep water exploration blocks and working fields. Among the companies involved in contractual oil and gas work in Gabon are Africa Energy, Shell, Elf Gabon/TotalFinaElf, Vaalco Energy  (Source: Wikipedia: Société Nationale Petrolière Gabonaise)
Click HERE for an overview
  • Alluvial diamonds have been recovered from Makongonio, in the south near the border with Congo and in the Mitzic region.
  • De Beers commenced diamond exploration in Gabon in 1998. The country hosts a potentially prospective area of 190 000 km². De Beers currently holds some 33 000 km² in three prospecting permits in the central-northern and southern parts of the country. Reconnaissance and follow-up sampling was completed over all of the company’s ground holdings (over 66 000 km²). Four airborne magnetic surveys have been flown to date (two in 2000 and two in 2002) covering a total area of approximately 18,000km². A total of forty-seven new kimberlites and related bodies were discovered by De Beers during the 8 years of operation within Gabon. Currently, no active exploration is taking place, but De Beers still maintains a presence in the country.
  • SouthernEra actively explored for diamond deposits in Gabon from 1999 to 2004 and discovered eight possible kimberlitic bodies sub-cropping in various small streams that were positive for kimberlitic indicators. In addition to the discoveries at the Makongonio Project, two ultramafic dykes were discovered in July in trenches within the Kango diamond permit, in northwestern Gabon.
  • Motapa Diamonds Inc holds 2 exploration permits encompassing 3.3 million hectares. Reconnaissance stream sediment sampling over 75% of the license area had yielded abundant chromite and ilmenite grains indicating the presence of kimberlite in certain areas of the Lebiri license.

Gold in Gabon

Gold Home

Birimian greenstones occur in western Gabon. Archean tonalitic gneisses in a typical greenstone belt setting at Bakoudou with structural features oriented NNW (340°) controlling the mineralization.

  • Morocco-based Managem operates the Bakoudou site near Bakoumba in a 75:25 joint venture with the Gabonese government. (See Searchgold Resources below) Bakoudou is estimated to have around 1.7m tonnes of gold reserves. Managem’s extracting plant opened in January 2012 with a capacity of 1400 kg per year, producing gold bars with between 93% and 97% gold content. However, as the company has been largely in the exploratory phase, production in its first year was well below capacity, at around 600 kg per year, although this outstripped the previous levels of largely artisanal production. In August 2012 the company announced it would double its gold production in Gabon from January 2013, with output expected to reach around 100 kg per month.
  • Goldstone Resources Ltd's Oyem and Ngoutou permits in Gabon were granted during April 2011. Both permits contain robust gold in soil anomalies in excess of 15 kilometres length. Diamond drilling of nine holes has been completed at Oyem. Assay results from the first two drill holes yielded gold concentrations of up to 9.5 g/t in a 120 metre wide deformational zone. Results from the remaining seven drill holes are still outstanding. Diamond drilling at Ngoutou is planned to commence during the first quarter of 2013.
  • Searchgold Resources (Canadian, also active in Guinea) was exploring the Bakoudou deposit with a combined oxide-sulfide measured and indicated resource of 277 380 oz Au (2,100,000 metric tons at a grade of 2,45 g/t Au in oxide ore and 570 000 metric tons at a grade of 6,11 g/t Au in sulfide ore).
  • SouthernEra (Canadian, TSX:SDM; AIM:SRE) investigated the gold occurrence at Koumba, western Gabon.
Iron Ore

  • Ferrex plc secured an 82%* holding in the 309 sq km high-grade Mebaga iron ore deposit in Gabon, West Africa in January 2013. Mebaga is located in an extensive high grade iron ore province which extends from Gabon into the Republic of Congo (ROC) and Cameroon. Iron ore mineralisation in the province is hosted in Archean BIF horizons belonging to the Belinga Supergroup and major deposits in the district include Belinga in Gabon (+1Bt @ 60% Fe); Mbalam in Cameroon (775Mt @ 57% Fe) and Avima in the ROC (690Mt @ 58% Fe). Interestingly, Mebaga is the nearest DSO iron ore project to the Atlantic of any deposits in this prolific iron province and has two infrastructure routes available. There is an existing rail line that runs 200 km to the Port of Qwendo which currently exports 3.5mtpa of manganese concentrate and the potential to barge ore 300km along the Oougue River to the Port of Gentil in Gabon. Mebaga hosts an historical exploration target of 20Mt at 60% Fe estimated by the BRGM based on the results of historical pitting. Based on available magnetic data and reconnaissance geological mapping undertaken by Ferrex, noted experts Core Geophysics estimated an Exploration Target of 90-150Mt at 35-65% Fe (oxide) and 540-900Mt at 25-40% Fe (fresh).  Government geology maps show that BIF within the Mebaga project is exposed over a strike length of more than 19km at widths up to 2km, making it a highly attractive exploration prospect. In addition, in the early 1960s, the BRGM completed reconnaissance evaluation in the project and targeted pitting of high grade iron exposures. A total of 95 pits were excavated, to depths up to 29.4m below surface, on several iron occurrences and a number of the pits returned high grade iron intercepts in vertical channel samples, including results such as 27m @ 58.4% Fe. Pitting also identified a coherent zone of mineralisation extending along strike for approximately 1.8km. Cross sections constructed by the BRGM indicate that mineralisation is interpreted to dip at a shallow to moderate angle and is inferred to be at least 30-35m thick in places. Reconnaissance and detailed geological mapping focused on the BIF trend undertaken by Ferrex returned promising rock assay results from rock samples, with grades of up to 67.51% Fe returned. An initial drill programme of 9 holes for 580.82m has been completed over 1.8km of the identified 19km strike and assay results have returned DSO grades up to 66.03% Fe. This grade equates to a 66% calcined Fe with less than 4.5% combined Si and Al which independent marketers have confirmed will trade at a premium to the 62% benchmark price. In addition, geological mapping of the area successfully identified high grade iron ore mineralisation in the eastern half of the licence, 7km east of the area drilled by Ferrex in 2013 and 3km east of the easternmost BRGM historical pit P72. Rock chips were taken and submitted for assay with a highest grade of 63.6% Fe returned from this programme. Ferrex holds an 82% interest in Mebaga through its holding in Gabonese holding company Ressources Equatoriales SARL.
 Gabon detail


Moanda Manganese Deposit Description (Source:

The Moanda manganese deposits are located in south-eastern Gabon, Africa, approximately 50 km west of Franceville and 450 km south-east of the capital Libreville which is on the Atlantic coast. 

The Moanda manganese deposits lies within the intracratonic Franceville Basin which contains a 1000 to 4000 m thick Paleoproterozoic sequence bounded to the NE by the 'North Gabon Craton' and to the SW by the associated Chaillu Block.   'North Gabon Craton', and the connected Chaillu Block are composed principally of 2900 Ma charnockites, pyroxene gneisses, granitic gneisses and migmatites. Both sections of the craton were granitised at 2700 Ma, although septa of greenstone and schist belts still remain in places, represented by banded ironstones, amphibolites, pyroxene amphibolites, amphibole quartzites and biotite gneiss. 

The overall Franceville Basin depository is subdivided into a number of sub-basins by basement ridges.   The succession within the basin comprises, from the base comprises:
Mabinga Sandstone, 0 to 1000m thick - a basal red sandstone which is coarse, feldspathic and conglomeratic along the margin with the Chaillu Block and has associated dolomite, anhydrite and gypsum, passing upwards into a pyritic and asphaltic facies. 
Bangombe Shales, 600m thick - calcareous and carbonaceous pelites with alternating jaspers and some sideritic and manganese rich iron formations and lenticular channel sandstones, including a lower mafic volcano-sedimentary unit. The carbonaceous section in the upper Mabinga and Bagombe Shales have also been designated as the FB Formation within southeastern Gabon, which contains one of the greatest accumulations of organic carbon of its age. The unit, which is weakly metamorphosed and dominantly pelitic, ranges in thickness from 400 to 1000 m and covers an area of over 35 000 sq. km. It consists of about 80% marine shale with 0.5 to over 10% total organic carbon;
Djoumou Shales, up to 50m thick - a marker unit of mostly thickly banded chert and massive dolomite which oversteps onto the basement;
Bambai Black Shales with associated ignimbritic tuffs at the top;
Lepaka Sandstones - the uppermost unit comprising alternations of sandstone and shale. 

The age of deposition is limited by the 2700 Ma dates on the Chaillu Block basement and 2050 Ma of the contained Franceville uranium mineralisation (see the Franceville record) which is hosted by the upper carbonaceous sections of the Mabinga Sandstone and sections of the overlying basal Bangombe Shale. 

The manganese mineralisation at Moanda is hosted by the Bangombe Shale, higher than the Franceville uranium deposits, and is formed from the weathering of manganese carbonates at the top of the sequence which occurs with banded iron formations containing siderite and greenalite. The primary Mn carbonates, prior to upgrading to 45 to 50% Mn by weathering, carry around 15% Mn. 

The main deposit occurs as a horizontal, elongate lens that is 3 to 7.6 m thick and covers an area of 19 sq. km. 

When compared to other black shales, the average FB Formation black shale is enriched only in Au, Ag, Ba, and Cr. General paucities in U and Mn represent negative anomalies in this area of world class U and Mn deposits. Detailed geochemical profiles of the lower FB Formation show that Fe/Mn ratios increase upwards from the base of the formation to the ores at the top. At least locally, Mn build-up in the sedimentary column is interpretted to be linked to increased oxidation potential caused by photosynthesis. The abundance of decomposing organic matter is believed to have played a key role in further concentrating Mn in carbonate protore during early diagenesis. 

The Moanda Mn orebody had reserves in 1964 of 550 Mt @ 51% Mn. Operational startup was in 1962 at a production rate of 2 Mt of Mn conc. per annum. In 2000 production was reduced to 1.74 Mt, although the operation has a capacity of 2.5 Mtpa of ore and 0.6 Mtpa of sintered manganese ore (USGS 2000). 

The most recent source geological information used to prepare this summary was dated: 2005.     
This description is a summary from published sources, the chief of which are listed below.
© Copyright Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd.   Unauthorised copying, reproduction, storage or dissemination prohibited
References & Additional Information

Mossman D J, Gauthier-Lafaye F and Jackson S E,  2005 - Black shales, organic matter, ore genesis and hydrocarbon generation in the Paleoproterozoic Franceville Series, Gabon: in    Precambrian Research   v137 pp 253-272
  • ERAMET, through its subsidiary COMILOG, is the world's second-largest producer of high grade manganese ore. COMILOG operates the mine at Moanda in Gabon. 
Manganese mining at Moanda

  • On October 21, 2010, China signed an agreement in Libreville to open a manganese mine in central Gabon and market the mineral. The agreement was signed by Julien Bekale and Huazhou's VP Zhang Longzhu. Julien Nkoghe Bekale said Huazhou Mining, a subsidiary of China's CITIC group, would invest 40 billion CFA francs in the mine at M'Bembele, 200 km southeast of Libreville. In the first two years, it was planned to extract 800,000 to 900,000 tonnes a year, rising to 1,040,000 tonnes thereafter over the course of 30 years. The site expected to employ 255 Gabonese and 85 Chinese. The Industrial and Commercial Mining Company of Huazhou (CICMHZ) said production at a manganese mine in the central region of M’Bembélé (Gabon) should reach a peak of 750,000 tonnes in 2013. Capacity: 900,000 tonnes a year, rising to 1,040,000 tonnes thereafter, over some 30 years.

Oil and Natural Gas

Click HERE for an overview

Until recently, oil drilling in Gabon has been confined to the coastal zone and offshore fields, but now, with China as a partner, onshore drilling is taking place under the tropical canopy.
To promote the exploration and exploitation of oil, the implementation of a regulatory framework that will be attractive to investors, along with stronger control of the sector's activities and of the collection of revenue, are on the agenda.

Similarly, to underpin the oil and related industries, the duty-free zone of Mandji island, to the north of Port-Gentil, is currently under construction and will concentrate all the activities of the Gabonese oil sector. The legislative framework, for which a vote was passed in 2002 for this zone, allows companies a ten-year exemption from taxes and duties as well as registration fees and stamp duties. This legislation also stipulates that from the 11th year of exploitation, companies will be subject to tax at a ceiling of 10%. The legislation also includes fiscal incentives for investment and job creation, lower income tax for private individuals and many other commercial and customs incentives.

Gabon’s economy is highly dependent on oil production, with the country’s oil exports accounting for 51 percent of GDP and 63 percent of government revenues. Gabon’s per capita GDP is approximately $5,500, well above most of sub-Saharan Africa.
According to Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Gabon had proven oil reserves of 2 billion barrels as of January 2007, down from 2.5 billion in 2006. Oil production for 2006 was an estimated 240,000 bbl/d, making Gabon the sixth largest producer in sub-Saharan Africa. This figure however, represents a sharp decline from the 1997 peak production of 370,000 bbl/d as most fields are beyond their peak production.
Gabon currently has 122 producing fields and new drilling is expected to increase production figures over the next couple of years. According to EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook, Gabonese oil production averaged around 240,000 bbl/d from January to September of 2007, increasing to 250,000 bbl/d in the fourth quarter of 2007. In 2006, domestic oil consumption was at 12,000 bbl/d, allowing most of the oil produced to be exported to the United States, Europe (mainly France) and, increasingly China and India.
The two major oil companies operating in Gabon are Royal Dutch Shell and Total—although the largest producer is currently Addax Petroleum, an independent company. Other independents operating in the country include Tullow Oil, Vaalco Energy Inc, Maurel et Prom (M&P).
Gabon’s Oil Ministry is responsible for all regulation in the oil industry. The country has a national oil company, Société Nationale Petrolière Gabonaise (SNPG); however, SNPG is not actively involved in development projects.
  • Oil production: 268,900 bbl/day (2005 est.)
  • Oil proved reserves: 1.827 billion bbl (2006 est.)
  • Natural gas production: 100 million cu m (2004 est.)
  • Natural gas proved reserves: 33.98 billion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
  • The onshore Shell-operated Rabi-Kounga field contains the vast majority of Gabon’s proven oil, while additional reserves are located in the offshore Tchatamba Marin and Etame fields.
  • In July 2006, Addax Petroleum purchased the interests of Pan-Ocean Energy in Gabon for $1.4 billion. The acquisition makes Addax the largest producer in Gabon, with total production of more than 100,000 bbl/d. According to Addax Petroleum, some of their near-term development plans include the continued drilling in the Tsengui and Obangue fields (where production has already increased by 20,000 bbl/d in the first half of 2007), completion of an export pipeline, which will transport oil from the onshore Obangue field to the Coucal pipeline system and export terminal at Cap Lopez, and future development of the Koula field.
  • Tullow Oil recently increased its acreage position in Gabon and as a result holds interests in 18 licences including eleven producing fields. Oil production from Gabon during 2006 averaged 15,125 bopd net to Tullow, representing 23% of the Group's total.
    In a recently completed deal Tullow acquired a package of assets from the Gabonese Government through a 50:50 Joint Venture with AIC-Petrofi Limited. The package comprised interests in three producing fields and back-in rights to a further nine Exploration Licences. Two additional fields, where Tullow has back-in rights, are awaiting development approval and are expected on stream over the next 18 months.
    The acquisition adds production of approximately 550 boepd net to Tullow from the Obangue (3.75%), Tsiengui (3.75%) and Oba (5%) fields. This figure is expected to rise to approximately 1,000 boepd by early 2008 as development of the three fields progresses and when the two additional developments are brought on stream.
    The exploration licences are located in areas of significant potential and when combined with Tullow's existing Gabonese interests give the Group exposure to almost 40% of Gabon's currently licensed acreage.
    Development of the first Etame satellite, the Avouma (7.5%) field, was successfully completed in December 2006 and first production commenced in mid January 2007. Detailed planning for a further Etame satellite, the Ebouri discovery (7.5%) is under way with a view to first production during 2008.
    Gabon is regarded as a key growth area within the Tullow portfolio, with a range of exploration, development, commercial and acquisition activities. Opportunities to expand the Gabon portfolio are continually being assessed.
Source: Tullow Oil
  • VAALCO Energy, Inc has a 30.350% (28.074% development and production) interest in the 750,000 acre Etame Marin Block offshore Gabon, West Africa.
    VAALCO also has a production sharing contract with the Ministry of Mines, Energy, Petroleum, and Hydraulic Resources of Gabon for the Mutamba Iroru G4-219 Permit located onshore Gabon containing approximately 270,000 acres.


Click HERE for an overview (MBendi)
  • COMUF, a subsidiary of Areva, mined the uranium deposits in the Mounana area in southeastern Gabon from 1960 to 1999. The most famous of these deposits is Oklo. The ore was mined in a quarry type operation as well as underground. It was concentrated in the site processing plant. COMUF produced a total of 26,000 metric tons of uranium. Mining operations were shut down in June 1999 due to a lack of economically recoverable reserves. The facilities were dismantled and the site is in the final phase of reclamation.

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