Eritrea is one of the emerging gold producing countries in Africa. Having gained its independence in 1992, the country is relatively young when compared to other African countries. Eritrea has been working on developing its mineral resources for some time and today several projects are underway. It is expected that about four major mines will be operational by the year 2018.
The country only has one commercial gold mine, with most of its gold mined by small scale artisanal miners. Nearly all of the large gold deposits remain intact.
Eritrea has a long history of gold mining. Early gold miners in the country were artisanal miners who mined gold from gold deposits along the stretch of the Red Sea especially around the Arabian Nubian Shield. Being part of the Ethiopian empire, Eritrea never had the influence of white colonialist and thus most of its resources were discovered and mined by the locals who didn’t have the capacity to mount large mining operations.
The civil war with Ethiopia that led to the independence of the country in 1992 disrupted most of the mining activities in the country and this could also be pointed out as the main reason why the country’s mining sector is least developed.
The government has for the past few years been working hand in hand with foreign investors to establish a strong gold mining sector in the country. Most of these companies are involved in exploration activities in several places although some are already working on developing various gold deposits. Some of the major international players in the country’s gold sector include:
Junior Sub Saharan Resources
This is an Australian firm that owns about 80% in three major exploration licenses in Eritrea. The company has rights to the Dabarwa block, Adi Nefas block and Medrizien block which all cover about 1,200km2. These are highly prospective grounds around the country’s capital city, Asmara. The company is also working on developing and mining the Zara gold project after it 70% of the project from Dragon Mining NL in 2003.
So far the company has recorded success in its gold projects around Asmara with sizable gold mineralization having been discovered in the old workings at the Woki Duba and Medrizien sites. Several other minerals such as zinc, lead sulphides and copper have also been found in the major exploration sites.
This is another important gold mining company in Eritrea. The company has for the past few years been actively involved in gold and several other base metals exploration in several places within the country. Its major gold project is the Adi Nefas Project located north of Asmara. Today the projected has been estimated to have about 4.4 g/t grading and about 165 g/t silver. Other important projects that the company owns include the Nefasit-Mount Subab project, the Tekeze area gold project and the Kefina project. The company also owns about 40% stake in the Anglo American’s Augaro gold project.
Nevsun Resources Ltd
This is an important Africa focused gold mining company. The company has four exploration licenses on a project that cover about 1,188km2 in the Augaro area. The company also owns 60% in the Bisha Mining Company with the remaining shares being owned by the Eritrean National Mining Corporation (ENAMCO). The company mines gold, copper and zinc from several mines within the country.
Sanu Resources Inc.
This is another important gold mining firm with interest in Eritrea’s gold sector. The company is from British Virginia Island and has exploration and mining licenses for the Kerkebet and Gieba regions in the northern parts of the country.