By Kaleyesus Bekele, The Reporter Newspaper
Newmont Mining Corporation, an American mining giant considered to be one of the world’s largest producers of gold, has shown keen interest in gold exploration and extraction projects in the Tigray Regional State. Tolosa Shagi, Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoMPNG), has told The Reporter that Newmont is getting ready to engage in gold exploration and development projects in two concessions in the Tigray Regional State.
“We believe that the mining sector should significantly contribute to the fast economic development Ethiopia is registering. So we have drafted a new strategy that enables us to lobby and attract giant international mining companies,” Tolosa told The Reporter in an exclusive interview.
Founded in 1916 by William Boyce Thompson as a diversified holding company, Newmont is currently headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado with active mines in Nevada, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Ghana and Peru. Holdings include Santa Fe Gold, Battle Mountain Gold, Normandy Mining, Franco-Nevada Corp and Fronteer Gold. Newmont also has many joint venture relationships. As of the third quarter of 2014, Newmont was the world’s secondlargest producer of gold, behind only Barrick Gold and remains to be the only gold company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
The coming of the mining giant is also expected to pave the way for others to join the sector. The ministry is also in the process of bringing in more companies. According to Tolosa, Ethiopia has not fully utilized its mineral resources. So his ministry has drafted a new scheme that enables it to unleash the country’s mining potential. So far, MIDROC Gold, KEFI Minerals,and Ascom are some of the companies engaged in gold exploration in Ethiopia. Back in October 2015 the three companies had completed their feasibility studies to start production in the early years of the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II) period.
Apart from large-scale mining, currently, more than one million people are engaged in artisanal mining primarily focused on gold. Artisanal miners pan eight tons of gold every year fetching a significant amount of foreign exchange to the country. Presently, artisanal miners generate more than USD 400 million, the lion’s share coming from gold export.