Algeria is one of many gold-rich countries in Africa. Although not among the top three gold producers on the continent, Algeria has great potential for gold development given the fact that not much gold exploration has been done in the country. Much of the country is a desert and its past political history has played a role in limiting gold exploration activities.
The history of gold mining in Algeria predates the Roman conquest of North Africa. The Atlas Mountains in Algeria have a rich history as a source of gold. It is estimated that mining the gold deposits within the Atlas Mountains in Algeria could produce between 200,000 and 300,000 ounces of gold a year, but mining for gold in these mountains is yet to be done on a large scale given the political challenges at the present time. Locals, however, have been able to mine small amount of gold in several places over the mountains although most of it is yet to be exploited to the fullest.
Gold has for a long time been mined in Algeria by the locals on small scale in the mountains and along riverbeds.
Large Gold Mines in Algeria
Commercial Gold exploration in Algeria began in the 1980s with government playing a leading role by licensing a number of firms to carry out the exploration. In recent time, GMA resource Plc and Sonatrach AVAL have been conducting joint gold exploration, development, and mining under the Tirek Amesnessa gold concession in the southern part of the country near its border with Mali.
So far the Tirek gold mine that was started in 2001 is the oldest gold mine in the country and is managed by Enor, which is a joint venture between the UK-based GMA Resource plc (52%) and the government of Algeria through the Sonatrach (48%). The gold deposit in this mine is estimated to be about 20 tons of gold and with an average gold grade of 9.57 grams per ton.
The Amessmessa mine is so far may be the most promising gold mine in Algeria with gold deposits estimated to be about 70 tons of gold. The gold mine was discovered and developed by GMA Resource Plc about 60km to the south of the Tirek gold mine. The valuation of this gold mine pushed the estimated amount of gold within Algeria to over 5 million ounces. This is in consideration with the other smaller gold mines within the zita area which lies in between the two mines. Gold deposits of commercial value have also been discovered in the Tiririne Hanane and Abagui regions, which lay to the Southeast border of the country.
To continue with the exploration of gold, the government of Algeria licensed the Canadian Cancor Mines in 2007 to explore and develop gold resources in the Ouzzal North Property, which is a 500km region adjacent to the Amessmessa mine. Today the company has several gold exploration permits to explore and develop gold resources in the country. In addition to the permit to explore gold and silver in the Ouzzal North property, the company also holds the permit for the exploration and development of gold and copper resources in the 20,000 hectors Chaffao East property and another gold and copper exploration permit for the 44,580 hectors West property. The company was also was awarded a permit to explore for gold and silver in the 98,990 hectors Tirej North property. All these four licenses cover the entire Hoggar region located in Southern Algeria.
Future Development of the Mining Sector
While there are many large gold mines in Algeria, this huge country still has much potential for future development in mining a variety of different mineral resources.
Oil and gas will likely remain as the major resource in Algeria for the foreseeable future, but the exploitation of other minerals should certainly continue. In addition to gold, sizable reserves of silver, zinc and lead have been found in recent years. In the interest of diversifying the resources mined within the country, it is likely that there will be expansion of this industry in the coming decades.