“It is unheard-of that four out of five mining companies that have been engaged in mining exploration have developed resources into tangible mineralization. It was not easy to find above five serious explorers in 2007 just before the global finance crisis. But now, there are about 20 companies.” Such expression strongly attests to the speedy development of Eritrea’s mining industry to which Mr. Alasdair Smith, geologist and managing director of the Sahar Minerals lauded the progress being made in the country’s mining industry saying “It is advancing better than anywhere else in the world.” But, what factors have consistently been pushing the mining sector a head? What are the views of expertise who have been engaged in Eritrea’s mining industry?
Ever since the discovery of mines deposit in Bisha and other areas of the country a number of companies have been flocking to Eritrea and also investing in the mining sector. It is evident that various factors have encouraged them to consistently engage in such undertaking with an added momentum. According to Mr. Smith, since the deposits still to be found out in Eritrea are going to be big and economic, mining companies would continue to come.
Even though gold deposit took a major coverage in the Asmara Geo-congress held last week, Eritrea is largely very prospective for base metals like the volcanogenic massive sulfide ore deposits (VMS) type. With this regard, Greg Hall, Placer dome geologist, said that projects that have already started to develop in Bisha and the Asmara project that has been developed by Sun Ridge mines are of VMS type.
Almost all the participants of the Geo-congress are appreciative of Eritrea’s high quality potash deposit at Colluli located only 65 km away from the sea which is also expected to commence production by the year 2016. “I am really impressed by the world class potash deposit in the Denakil depression which is going to last long. It has the characteristic of being close to the surface; so it doesn’t require building an underground mine,” Mr. Hall said. “So there is a big future for Eritrea as potash producer.”Also according to South Boulder’s Country manger and Chief Geologist Zeray Leake, owing to the closeness of the potash deposit to the surface; the initial investment would be very minimal which makes the Colluli quite attractive to investors.
Participants of Asmara Geo-Congress 2011 have also traveled to varied mining sites and also to the port city of Massawa and Dese Island that is located some 18 km away from Massawa. Sam Haimer who traveled form Asmara to Ghindae by train expressed appreciation saying “I have never done quite anything like today’s trip. We had a great time. Traveling by a train, I felt like I was back to the 1950 or earlier.”
Many of the participants and particularly expertise of the Mining companies who have been operating in Eritrea are really impressed by Eritrea’s mining deposits and the country’s mining act which is mutually beneficial. Dan Hamer describes Eritrea’s mineral prospect as extraordinary. Pointing out that the mineral endowment in Eretria is exceptional; Mr. Slater said “In the mineral business, Eritrea is doing really well. The potential to find more deposits is certainly great.” In connection with Eritrea’s becoming a center of mining industry in the Arabian-Nubian Shield Mr. Hamer said that Eritrea has already established itself in that position. “The conditions in the country are certainly favorable for mining industry and that is why companies working in Eritrea have been successful,” He added. It is the right atmosphere which provides the companies realize the potentials of the country in a partnership with the Government.
As regards his four years stay in Eritrea, Mr. Hamer said that he spent four happy years thoroughly enjoying the company of the people of country. “That is why I am back here to participate in the Geo-Congress. And If there is an opportunity in the future I am looking forward to come back to the country,” he said. “The steam train trip was a unique journey and I feel the privilege to do this trip though it is not my first time to do that. Even though it is the sixth time to do this, I still love it. Every time I come to Eritrea, this time of the year, it is an opportunity to do the train trip which I like to do it every time.”
Many of the investors strongly emphasize that, above the endowment of deposits, it is the investment environment they are guaranteed in Eritrea which prompts them to come to the country. In this regard, Mr. Zeray also said that the royalty for potash is just around 3.5 % and the top most quality is the mining law and a corruption free state which greatly attracts the investors.
There is also growing competition among the mining companies to win bids as per the requirements of Eritrea’s mining law. Mr. Zeray pointed out that the Ministry of Energy and Mines has been doing its assignment to attract as many investors.
An ever-growing interest on the part of investors in general and the prospects for finding as many precious metals and industry minerals in particular are expected to boom Eritrea’s mining industry. The more the exploration is carried out, the more the findings would be. Thanks to the favorable investment atmosphere, investors would continue to come. As the saying “bake as long as the oven is hot” implies, investors would consistently invest in Eritrea as the mining law, the country’s minerals deposit and most significantly the cordiality and hard working nature of its people is still an asset that they would cherish in their memories.