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Ministry drafts mining policy

The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum has drafted a national mining policy that would aimed at bolstering the local mining industry.

A senior official of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum told The Reporter the draft mining policy would enable the Ministry identify the country’s mineral potential and harness the natural resource. The official said that the policy would encourage the private sector investment into the mining sector.

The Ethiopian Mining Council last week held stakeholders consultative meeting on the draft Mining Policy. The consultative meeting which was chaired by Assefa Kumsa, State Minister of Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, deliberated on the huge potential of the sector to transform the country’s economy, as well as the major challenges the sector faced. “The draft policy aims to clearly articulate the potential contribution of the sector to the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan, and how best to harness the benefits the sector could deliver,” Assefa said.

In the course of the consultative meeting participants noted that the absence of cross sectoral inter-linkages, reduced investment, lack of value addition, insufficient awareness on the importance of the sector and lack of access to organized data as the main challenges that need to be addressed. 

The draft Mining Policy will be further enriched by incorporating comments and feedbacks received from stakeholders before being tabled for the Council of Ministers’ approval.

The Ministry believes that the national mining policy would enable it to boost the mining sector’s contribution for the overall economic development of the country. “The overarching goals set for the sector are to contribute to the country’s Sustainable development and bring about a structural reform,” the Ministry said.  Once ratified the Mining Policy envisages to boost revenue, generate additional employment opportunities by encouraging and attracting investors in the sector.

The mining sector has been seriously affected by the political instability that rocked the country in the past four years. Growing contraband trade has significantly reduced the mineral export earnings. The annual mineral export earning has nosedived from USD 600 million to 130 million.

According to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum Ethiopia offers excellent opportunities for mineral prospecting and development. There is favorable geological environment hosting a wide variety of mineral resources. The Ministry claims that Ethiopia’s green stone belts offer one of the finest areas for gold mineralization anywhere in the world, and more than 500 metric tons of gold deposits have already been identified by exploration. Precious and metallic minerals such as tantalum, and platinum have been mined in small scale. There are more than 200 foreign and local licenses mining companies engaged in exploration and mining of minerals.   

With regards to petroleum resources the country has five sedimentary basins. The Ogaden basin covering 350,000sqkm of land is the largest basin in Ethiopia. Natural gas and crude oil reserves have been discovered in the basin.

There are five international oil firms engaged in oil and gas exploration and development projects in different parts of the countries. Poly GCL Petroleum Investments Ltd, New Age, Africa Oil, South West Energy and Gazprom are the licensed companies to prospect and develop hydro oil and gas reserves.

Mining firms operating in remote parts of the country have reported that security concerns have hampered their activities. Last week five persons working for a mining company in Wellega near Nejo town were killed by unidentified gunmen. Senior official of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum told The Reporter that the security problems need political solution adding that that situation is beyond the control of the Ministry.