Eritrea is the next logical site for Chinese minder Sichuan Road & Bridge Mining Investment Development Corp. By 2019, the firm is looking to increase mining operations here for copper, gold, silver, and zinc production. It will be the third miner to operate in the area following the end of a 20-year-old border dispute with Ethiopia.
The company will be mining in Asmara, along with other mining companies like Nevsun Resources as well as Shanghai SFECO. The other companies operate in Bisha and Zara, respectively, according to Mining.com. The project is a fruitful harvest of precious stones and minerals; the company expects to ship out around 574,000 tons of copper; gold will come about at 930,000 ounces; and zinc, a component in most manufacturing materials, will come to about 1.2 million tons.
The end of the conflict gripping the region represents a renewed interest in Ethiopia, home to Africa's most promising economic resource. The close proximity of Eritrea to Ethiopia is also a boon to China's mining interests-Eritrea is home to ports which could be used to bring the mined minerals back home.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that another mine, the Colluli site, is under construction. An Australian company-Danakali Ltd.-and the local government is partnering to put the mine up. As for the Asmara mine, it is expected to give up its minerals for 17 years and will be in operation early next year.
Alem Kibreab, the director-general for mining of the Energy and Mines Ministry, explained that the mining operations are scheduled to be done in phases. The first phase will yield high-grade copper ore, with the other succeeding phases coming as most of the mine is explored and dug out.
Eritrea's mining industry has been the main lifeline of the country's economy. This is evident in how the mining authority in the country, the National Mining Corporation, runs things; 10% of the profits of every operation is directed to them. It also has the power to buy stocks, similar to how the Australian mining code has enabled profit-sharing with the government.
The Bisha mine has become the country's most profitable operation, yielding at least $755 million of resources. It has been in production since 2010, and the government of the country is in a 60/40 sharing with Canadian mining company Nevsun.