Benin is an important mining country in West Africa. It’s near Africa’s second largest gold producer; Ghana.
It is in the same geological location as the leading gold producers in Africa within the West African geographical formation. Most of the gold in Benin is mined by artisanal gold miners from the gold rich veins close to the villages of Tchantangou and Kwatena in the Atakora Mountains in the Northwest regions in the country. Gold has also been mined from alluvial gold sediments from the Perma River and its major tributaries.
Artisanal Mining Areas in Benin
Not much in the way of commercial gold mining has been done in the country, but the state departments that manage mining matters in Benin, the Office Béninoise des Mines (OBEMINES) has been working with other government organs to revise the country’s mining laws with the main goal of attracting foreign investments in the gold sector.
Gold mining in Benin is not new. It dates back to the pre-colonial period when alluvial gold was mined along rivers for the king. Most of the gold traded in the Trans-Saharan trade came from rivers in what is now Benin and Ghana.
Throughout the history of the country alluvial gold has been mined by artisanal gold miners along the rivers and in mountains areas. Several surveys have been conducted in the past to establish the presence of gold in the country but limited commercial mining has been started. This leaves a huge potential to be explored by gold miners in the country.
Exploration Permits Being Issued
The government has awarded quite a good number exploration licenses to international gold mining companies for gold exploration in the country in recent years. Most of these companies have recorded positive initial results that suggest that the country could have far more gold resources to be explored.
Quite a significant amount of gold mineralization has been discovered in both the Alibori and Atacora regions. Alluvial sentiments containing gold have also been found in several places outside of these regions indicating potentially widespread deposits. Further exploration is still undergoing to determine the commercial viability of the gold resources. Some of the major players in the country’s gold sector include the following.
Commercial Mining in Benin
Premier African Minerals Limited is an important AIM-traded, natural resources and commodities company with gold mining interests in Benin. The company through its subsidiary G&B African Resources Benin SARL holds exploration rights in Benin. The company has an exploration license to a 249.75km2 mineral block located in the eastern parts of Central Benin. The property is about 75 km north of the town of Parakou and has great history of artisanal gold mining. Preliminary studies done on the block shows great potential from gold mineralization although further studies are still needed before commercial gold mining can begin.
The location of the gold property is in particular underlain by way of Proterozoic migmatic gneisses. Since the early 2000’s, the area has intermittently seen artisanal mining activities for tantalum ore and colored gemstones like tourmaline and blue beryl (aquamarine).
The Ministry of Mines in Benin has lately stopped all artisanal mining activities to facilitate mineral exploration and further commercial gold mining. An initial survey by the company using satellite imagery of the license regions has identified 39 important areas for gold, tantalite and gemstones. Those targets are grouped in three pegmatite belts, one covers a length of about 10 km, a second one a length of about five km and the third one a length of about three km. The latter is especially potential for colored gems, the other two for both gold and tantalum.