Service Géologique
Ministère des Mines et de l'Industrie
B.P.199, Nouakchott
Phone: +222-525-3225 
Fax: +222-525-3225/6861

Source: CIA Factbook



The geology of Mauritania can be subdivided into four major domains: The Archean Reguibat Shield in the north of the country which strikes into Western Sahara (southern Morocco) and Algeria, comprising gneiss, amphibolites and marble; the Neoproterozoic N-S striking Mauritanide belt, comprising dominantly sediments folded and thrust during the Variscan orogeny; the Taoudeni Basin of predominantly fine-grained clastic sediments of Neoproterozoic to Phanerozoic age, covering most of central and southern Mauritania; and parts of the Senegal basin in the southwest of the country with marine sediments of Jurassic to Recent age. Sand dunes cover about 50% of Mauritania’s surface, which forms a vast peneplain studded with inselbergs on the folded belts.


Minerals and hydrocarbons constitute about 80% of the total value of the Mauritania’s exports. The country has extensive deposits of iron ore and its mineral sector is traditionally dominated by iron ore mining and beneficiation which accounted for nearly 40 per cent of total value exports. Other mineral commodities produced included copper, gold, gypsum, salt and crude petroleum. Mauritania was the second largest iron ore producer in Africa (after South Africa) accounting for 17.1% of total production in 2008. Worldwide it was ranked 14th equal with Mexico. The reserve base was estimated at 1.5 billion tonnes of iron ore with about 1 billion tonnes of contained iron. Copper production, which resumed in late 2006, increased by 16.85% in 2008 and Mauritania was the fourth largest copper producer in Africa accounting for 3.4% of total output. Gypsum production decreased by 9.75% in 2008 to approximate output levels achieved in 2005-06. Mauritania was the eighth largest gypsum producer in Africa. In recent years Mauritania has also become a significant gold producer and more than doubled output in 2008 to become the eighth largest producer in Africa (1.2% of the total). The Tasiast gold deposit is located within the Archean age Aouéouat greenstone belt, a 70 km long by 15 km wide north-south trending belt of mostly supracrustal rocks situated within the south-western sector of the Reguibat Shield (or Dorsale Reguibat). The Guelb Moghrein gold deposit appears to be of Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG) type, and is hosted by gently dipping mafic volcanics and sediments, adjacent to a small gabbroic intrusive. Copper-gold mineralization, which comprises coarsely disseminated chalcopyrite and cubanite, with minor free gold, cobaltite and arsenopyrite, is associated with disseminated magnetite and intense siderite alteration of a mafic volcaniclastic unit.

Oil & Gas

Crude petroleum was discovered offshore in 2001 and production commenced in February 2006 making Mauritania Africa's newest, if small-scale, oil producer. Production decreased by 19.85 per cent in 2008 and follows on from a 51.45 per cent decline in 2007. Oil prospects, while initially promising, have largely failed to materialize. There may be additional oil and gas reserves inland in the Taoudeni basin. The natural gas resource remains undeveloped. As from the beginning of 2009 proven reserves of crude oil and natural gas were estimated at 13.64 Mt and 28.32 billion m3.

Maps and images

Taleb Abdival, Minister of Mines, Ministry of Mines, Mauritania, August 2012:

What is the Ministry doing to attract international mining companies to set up business in Mauritania?

Transparent and clear procedures
• Very attractive mining law
• Important incentives, including total exemption during the exploration phase and during the first years of mining
• GIS based transparent mining registry
• Mining licenses granted on the principle of first come first served
• Very good quality data (geology, geophysics, reports...) to support the mining industry

How many international projects are already underway in the region?

6 major mining projects are under development
• 4 other middle-sized projects are also underway

Which metals/minerals hold the best opportunity in your country?

• Uranium
• Diamond
• Copper and base metals in general
• Titanium and industrial minerals in general including phosphates

What do international mining companies need to know about operating in Mauritania?

That the country is underexplored
and the opportunity to discover world
class deposits is still possible
• The country is safe and the people
are very friendly
• The mining law is very clear
• Major companies are exploring the
• New mineral provinces are recently

Link to a Minerals Database for Mauritania



Click HERE for an overview
  • Rex Diamond Mining Corporation took up 100,000 km² of diamond exploration permits in the northern part of Mauritania in 1997. The permits covered the Reguibat craton, one of the last then remaining unexplored diamond exploration terrains in the world. Rex flew about 250,000 line kilometres of aeromagnetic and radiometric surveys and took more than 20,000 surface loam samples of about 60 kg. These efforts led to the discovery of 20 kimberlite bodies, 6 of them being diamond-bearing. Unfortunately, none of the kimberlites had any economic potential. As a  side-benefit, checking of the magnetic anomalies led to the discovery of a nickel-platinum-palladium deposit. Even though grades in nickel, platinum and palladium are high, the deposit was too small to be economic. The geological studies were based on radiometric dating and on the interpretation of aeromagnetic maps from surveys financed by Rex and by the World Bank. This resulted in a good definition of the boundaries between truly Archean terrains and the  surrounding Lower Proterozoic ones.  The systematic verification of outstanding magnetic and indicator anomalies led to the discovery of close to one hundred lamprophyre bodies. The bodies are swarms of dykes and small pipes. The lamprophyres are highly altered, and some have affinities with lamproites and kimberlites. Their mineralogy is however unfavourable and they do not seem to possess any diamond potential. The winnowing out of the outstanding anomalies and the better definition of the Archean terrains, allowed Rex to reduce the surface area of its diamond  exploration permits by half. The permits then centered around the promising areas of Tenoumer and Touajil, where previously most kimberlite indicator minerals and diamonds were found. In 2000 Rex entered into a joint venture agreement with De Beers on the Akchar permits. The joint venture covered a surface of 13,426 km² and De Beers had to spend US$ 24 million or deliver a bankable feasibility study over 5 years to earn a 60% interest. De Beers flew an  aeromagnetic and radiometric survey over the area and followed up the anomalies. In the field, anomalies were checked with indicator surveys, ground magnetic and gravimetric surveys, followed by drilling on promising targets. In 2003 De Beers informed the Company that they have relinquished some parts of the Akchar Joint Venture area. By January 2002, 34 exploration licences for diamonds were held concentrated in Northern Mauritania where Ashton Mining and Rex Diamond Corporation started work in 1995. Diamond exploration remained the focus of several foreign companies in Mauritania including Ashton, Rex Diamonds, Dia Met and De Beers. In 1998 Ashton also discovered  diamonds and kimberlites reported from the Reguibat Shield, and subsequent work  confirmed the prospectivity of the region for economic diamond deposits. Ashton and Dia Met had a joint venture exploring 19 granted exploration licences covering approximately 224 000 km2.  Processing of selected drill samples recovered 78 diamonds and diamond fragments weighing a total of 2.86 cts.

Gold in Mauritania

Gold Home

The Tasiast deposit is located within the Archean age Aouéouat greenstone belt, a 70 km long by 15 km wide north-south trending belt of mostly supracrustal rocks situated within the south-western sector of the Reguibat Shield (or Dorsale Reguibat). The rocks to either side of the greenstone belt consist of granitoids and gneisses.

The Guelb Moghrein deposit appears to be of Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG) type, and is hosted by gently dipping mafic volcanics and sediments, adjacent to a small gabbroic intrusive. Copper-gold mineralization, which comprises coarsely disseminated chalcopyrite and cubanite, with minor free gold, cobaltite and arsenopyrite, is associated with disseminated magnetite and intense siderite alteration of a mafic volcaniclastic unit.
  • Rio Narcea Gold Mines, Ltd (Canadian, TSX:RNG; AMEX:RNO) is developing the Tasiast gold deposit. The Tasiast gold project has measured and indicated resources of approximately 12,07 million tonnes averaging 3,06 g/t Au, or 1,19 million oz, which includes proven and probable reserves within four open pits of 9,01 million tonnes averaging 3,06 g/t Au, or approximately 886 000 ounces at a gold price of US$370 per ounce. In addition, inferred resources total 12,4 million tonnes averaging 2,25 g/t Au or approximately 899 000 oz. Tasiast is forecast to produce an average of 105 000 oz of gold annually over the current 8-year mine life at a cash operating cost of approximately $240 per ounce. This includes an initial stage of approximately three years during which Tasiast will produce approximately 120,000 oz annually at a cash cost of approximately $220 per ounce. Lundin Mining Corporation (Canadian, LUN.TO, LUNCF.PK) made a friendly C$1-billion all-cash bid for Rio Narcea Gold Mines Ltd in April,2007. Lundin plans to sell Rio Narcea's interest in the Tasisast gold project to Red Back Mining Inc. for $225-million (U.S.) in cash and the assumption of C$42,5-million in debt.
  • Red Back Mining Inc took ownership of Tasiast in August, 2007, and 148 000 t of ore have been batch treated at a head grade of 4, 44 g/t and 96% recovery, resulting in production of 20 138 oz of gold. It is anticipated that approximately 23 000 oz will be produced for 2007, and going forward, budgeted production at the expanded Tasiast for 2008 is 100 000 oz to 110 000 oz.
  • Kinross Gold Corporation acquired its 100% interest in the Tasiast gold mine on September 17, 2010 upon completing its acquisition of Red Back Mining Inc. The Tasiast mine is an open pit operation located in north-western Mauritania. Gold mineralization occurs in two parallel trends: the Piment Zone, which is continuous over a 4.5 kilometre strike length, and the Greenschist Zone (West Branch), with a strike length of approximately 1.5 kilometres. Kinross will focus its 2012 exploration efforts at Tasiast along the mine corridor, and testing high-quality geological, geochemical and geophysical targets throughout the 75-kilometre greenstone belt. Current mining operations consist of conventional open pit mining methods. High grade ore processing is based on three stage crushing, ball milling, and a carbon-in-leach circuit. Lower grade oxide ore is processed in a run-of-mine heap leach facility. In 2011, Kinross completed the construction of the West Branch dump leach and ADR (Adsorption, Desorption and Refining) facilities, the initial phase of the exciting project expansion at Tasiast.
Kinross Gold Corp.purchased: Red Back Mining Inc.for $7.9-billion in 2010, but the valuation was slashed at the Tasiast mine in Mauritania as capital and operating costs increased.
  • OreCorp Mauritania SARL has entered into a package of four granted exploration licenses at the Oua Oua project in the southern Mauritanide Belt. Under the terms of the agreement the company may earn up to a 90% interest by meeting staged exploration expenditure and vendor payments In addition, within the OOP a significant stream sediment pan concentrate Au anomaly over 20km2 has been outlined by historical work, with values over 200g/t Au recorded. Limited channel sampling generated results of up to 4m @ 3.06g/t Au with highly anomalous lead, zinc, arsenic and barium values OreCorp has commenced initial field reconnaissance and geochemical sampling over priority areas in the OOP including areas of mineralisation identified in historical exploration campaigns
  • Shield Mining Ltd (Australian, SLMDF.PK) holds five Group 2 permits (gold and base metal) that cover a total area of 7381km2. The permits are located in the north-west corner of Mauritania, close to the international border with Western Sahara (north) and Algeria (north-east), between 800km and 1200km north-east of the capital Nouakchott. Applications were submitted during the middle of 2005 for a further six Group 2 permits with a total area of 8210 square kilometers. It has also signed a joint venture agreement with General Mining Services S.A. of Mauritania to explore their Saboussiri permit in southern Mauritania. The terms of the JV are such that Shield will immediately acquire a 60% interest in the permit. Shield will undertake and fund the exploration of the permit up to a bankable feasibility study at which point both parties will contribute proportionally. Both parties have pre-emptive rights. BRGM discovered copper mineralisation in jaspilites and hematite breccias at the main prospect of Diaguili in the early 1970’s and undertook two campaigns of drilling resulting in very significant, but conflicting results. General Gold carried out soil sampling campaigns which delineated a number of Cu-Au anomalies. Subsequent drill testing of these failed to produce any significant results. BHP Billiton identified the potential for IOCG (Iron Oxide Copper Gold) targets on the property and undertook remote sensing and airborne geophysical surveys in the period 2000 - 2003. Despite identifying a number of anomalies the company relinquished the tenement before testing any of them.
  • Alecto Minerals plc holds three gold and base metal licences located in Chegar (756 sq km), Wad Armour (613 sq km) and Zreibya (459 sq km) in Mauritania, providing the Company with exposure to a highly prospective and emerging mineral district. The main type of mineralisation targeted by work to date is Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG) style mineralisation. An IOCG deposit is defined by iron oxide rich hosts, regional scale alteration and a close relationship to I or A type granites. They are associated with large pre-existing crustal scale structures, needed to produce the carbonate alteration ground preparation and the plumbing for the mineralising fluids. Mineralising fluids are often magmatic derived, iron rich and sulphur poor leading to the iron oxide rich nature of the ore. The emplacement of the intrusives and mineralisation are broadly contemporaneous with a compressional or transpressional event. The nearby Guelb Moghrein deposit in the central Mauritanide region is thought to be an example of this style. Mineralisation is hosted as sulphides in Ferro-Magnesian carbonate pods, with copper occurring as chalcopyrite in lenses, veins and disseminations. Outside the main sulphide zone magnetite is prevalent. Magnetite mineralisation accompanies the sulphide mineralisation and is the dominant mineral phase. At Guelb Moghrein the main sulphide zone has a resistant supergene iron-silica cap and an enrichment of copper oxides and gold within an oxide blanket. At Guelb Moghrein as with other IOCG deposits worldwide an early structurally controlled carbonate alteration phase is thought to be an important pre-cursor to mineralisation. The area is under-explored, and in line with this, a four phase exploration programme is underway to advance the licences. Two of the phases have now been completed by leading Consultants SRK Exploration Services. The Board believes the Zreibya and Wad Amour licences have the most potential with highly prospective exploration targets. Having delineated two defined copper anomalies with strike lengths of over 800m and 900m at the Wad Amour licence, the Company is likely to implement a scout drilling programme to improve understanding of the mineralisation at the licence areas.
  • SNIM’s operations are located in the north of Mauritania and are connected to the port of Nouadhibou by a 700km-long railway. The Guelb El Rhein site, located 25 km Northeast of Zouérate in the Tiris-Zemmour Wilaya, has an annual output of 10 million tons of crude iron ore. Due to the low iron content of the ore (approximately 34% to 37%), it must be upgraded by dry or wet concentration to a little less than 66% content. SNIM intends to double the site’s yearly production to 20 million tons of crude ore by the end of 2012, corresponding to a concentrate production of approximately 8 million tons a year. To that end, a new enrichment plant should be built to produce half of this quantity (approximately 4 million tons a year). The iron ore feeding the new plant will be exploited over 20 years onwards from 2012.
  • Sphere Minerals Ltd., controlled by Glencore Plc, slowed plans to develop a $900 million iron ore mine in Africa after prices of the steelmaking material plunged. The board is reviewing the Askaf project in Mauritania, Sphere said on 27th October 2014 in a statement, after approving development in April. Askaf North had been expected to begin output in early 2017 and is forecast to yield about 7.5 million tons a year once developed. “Taking into account the time involved in this review it is currently expected that the start of production will be delayed,” Matthew Conroy, company secretary of Sphere, said in a statement. Sphere is 88 percent owned by Glencore’s Sidero Pty, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Iron ore has declined 40 percent in 2014 as the largest producers, including Vale SA and Rio Tinto Group, increase low- cost output from Australia and Brazil, adding to a global glut. Global seaborne output will exceed demand by 26 million tons this year and 41 million tons in 2015, according to UBS AG. The Mauritanian government reached a preliminary agreement with Glencore to share a port and railway to serve the Askaf project, according to an April filing. Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore, which has two other undeveloped iron ore projects in West Africa, holds 79 percent of Askaf, it said in its annual report.

  • Charter Pacific Corporation Ltd has completed the first phase of its trench in Kaoua El Khadra project estimated at 4.4 billion tons of potential magnetite ore which extend 130 km. Examination of deposits outcrop sampling and a program of intensive magnetic field assessment resulted in this estimate. The program would have helped cut Charter Pacific to detect bands of banded iron formations hitherto unexplored in the eastern part of the 792 permit Kaoua El Khadra project covers about 960 km2, 250 km northeast of Nouakchott. Charter Pacific Corporation Ltd is an investment company which owns a controlling interest in mining assets in Mauritania and capital shares in publicly traded companies.

Oil and Natural Gas

Mauritania's offshore region became a new oil province with Woodside Petroleum Ltd's Chinguetti, Banda, Tiof and Tevet discoveries between 2001 and 2004 which have oil reserves of several hundred million barrels. In February 2006, Mauritania began producing its first oil from the Chinguetti oilfield , which is located offshore 56 miles southwest of Nouakchott. The field has estimated proven reserves of 123 million barrels of oil. The field was producing around 15,000 barrels per day (bbl/d), but output was expected to reach capacity of 75,000 bbl/d by the end of 2006.
The Mauritanian government created the national oil company, Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures, in 2004.
In March 2005, the Mauritanian government created a separate ministry of oil and energy to handle the energy portfolio. The ministry is headed by Mohamed Aly Ould Sidi Mohamed. In 2005, Mauritania imported 24,000 bbl/d of petroleum products, as its refinery is not in use.
  • Oil production: 75,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
  • Oil proved reserves: 1 billion bbl (2005)
  • Woodside Petroleum operates the Chinguetti field with a 47.38 percent interest and is joined with partners Hardman Resources (19.01 percent), Mauritanian-government controlled Société Mauritanienne des Hydrocarbures (12 percent), BG Group (10.23 percent), Premier Oil (8.12 percent) and Roc Oil Company Ltd (3.25 percent).
    In addition to Chinguetti field, Mauritania possesses several other promising offshore oil and gas fields. The Tiof oilfield, which is located 16 miles north of the Chinguetti field, may contain up to 350 million barrels of oil. The Tiof-6 exploration well was drilled successfully in February 2005. Woodside and its partners believe that the field may start producing at 50,000 bbl/d in mid-2007, with production potentially rising to 150,000 bbl/d in 2008.
  • The Banda field, located 12 miles east of Nouakchott, may contain natural gas reserves of 3-5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf).
  • UK-based Dana Petroleum is working with LNG operators to determine development options for the Pelican field. The Pelican natural gas field is estimated to hold 1 to 1.5 Tcf.
  • With Mauritania's best offshore blocks under contract, other companies have lined up to explore onshore blocks, particularly in the Taoudeni Basin in the northeastern part of the Mauritanian desert. Spain's Repsol, China National Petroleum Co. and Woodside Petroleum are among the companies that have been awarded Taoudeni blocks.
  • In January 2005, France's Total signed two production sharing contracts there, covering nearly 22,394 square miles.
  • Tullow Oil holds interests in eight blocks offshore Mauritania, the majority of which were acquired as part of the Hardman Resources takeover. These blocks cover nearly 47,000 sq km, extend along 750 km of coastline and include most of the prospective offshore basin area. Since 2000, over 30 exploration, appraisal and development wells have been drilled. Of the exploration wells, Chinguetti, Tiof, Tevet and Banda all resulted in significant oil and gas discoveries, while the Pelican well discovered gas (with the possibility of a downdip oil leg). Exploration success to date is roughly 50% at the Miocene stratigraphic level and 25% at the Cretaceous.
Source: Tullow Oil


  • Alba Mineral Resources has a 50% holding in a private mineral exploration company, Mauritania Ventures Limited (MVL),which was established to investigate the uranium potential of north-eastern Mauritania. It has been awarded two uranium exploration permits with an additional four uranium exploration permits pending. Work programmes have commenced and field programmes are scheduled for January 2007. The permit areas are contained within a zone considered prospective for unconformity-type uranium mineralization.
  • Murchison United NL (Australian) has been granted two uranium exploration licences in the Republic of Mauritania and is waiting for the outcome of a further four licence applications being processed. Murchison United reported in December, 2007, that drilling had started focusing on one of its key exploration licences at Bir En Nar in the Zednes region, in Mauritania.
    The drilling programme is the first drilling undertaken by Murchison United within its portfolio of uranium interests in Mauritania.
    It follows the successful completion of the company’s maiden drilling programme earlier this year at the Firawa prospect in Guinea, which returned encouraging initial results.
  • Shield Mining Ltd was awarded its first licences to explore for uranium in Mauritania, the company said in December, 2007. First work on the acreage was expected to start in 2008. Shield said that it was also looking to rapidly grow its new uranium position by at least a further 60% through four uranium exploration applications currently with government authorities. The maiden approvals cover two licence areas totalling 2 815 km2, although the granting of all four of the current applications would extend those uranium-only exploration rights to nearly 4 400 km2. The uranium licences generally cover Shield's existing gold and base metal licences.

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 ore deposits