Ethiopia has identified 20 new mineral deposits this year which include gypsum, limestone, marble and potash says a report from the Geological Survey of Ethiopia (GSE).
The discovery of the various deposits in the northern African state, has led to an increase in the national total up in the 2013/14 fiscal year, says Africanbriefonline.com.
Acccordingly, 19 of these deposits are found in Oromia, with seven in the Gugi zone, six in south-west Oromia and six in Holeta and Meki.
The 20th, which is a coal deposit, was found in Wolkite town in the Southern Regional State.
The GSE has the mandate of collecting fundamental geosciences information from the whole country and publicize to all stakeholders.
It is required to carry out geological mapping and investigations related to mineral resources, oil and natural gas, hydrogeology and engineering geology.
It also undertakes geochemical analysis of solid and liquidsamples, physical property testing and petro graphic and mineralogical studies.
Ethiopia located in the Horn of Africa covers a land area of about 1.14 million km with a population of over 73 million. Kenya,
Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea are some of the neighboring countries.
Ethiopia has adopted federal administrative system comprising of 9 regional states and two City Administrative Councils.
The geology of Ethiopia mining ranges from oldest (Precambrian) to recent volcanic and sedimentary formation.
The oldest (Precambrian) rocks host most of the economic metallic mineral deposits include primary and secondary enriched (placer) gold, platinum, platinum group elements (PGE), nickel, tantalum, base metals (like copper, lead and Zinc).
Industrial minerals are (like phosphate, iron ore), gemstones (like ruby, emerald, sapphire, garnet, etc) and also decorative and dimension stones such as marble, granite and other coloured stones.
The sedimentary (Mesozoic) rocks also host, other than the natural fuel minerals (oil, gas, oil shale, including coal), some other metallic ores like malachite, manganese, gypsiferous minerals as well as enormous construction and cement raw materials resources.
The volcanics and sedimentary rocks of the recent age (Cenozoic) host most world class industrial minerals such as potash, rock salt, bentonite, soda ash, diatomite, opalized stones and numerous types of construction and cement raw materials.
So far developed large scale gold mine in the country is the Lege-dembi gold mine, located in the southern greenstone belt region, being operated by private company with estimated reserve of 82 tons and an average annual production of 3.6 tons of gold.
There is also small scale open pit mine of columbo-tantalite at Kenticha in the Adola belt.
The deposit is both a weathered crust ore (the top 60 meters) with proven reserve of 2400 tons of tantalum pentaoxide and 2300 tons of niobium pentaoxide, and primary ore with proved reserve of 2393 ton Ta2O5 and 2362.5 ton Nb2O5.
The Mine has been operating since 1990 with a pilot plant3 producing about 20 tons per year. At present, it is producing over 190 tons of tantalite concentrate of tantalite colombite ore per annum.
Secondary enriched (placer) gold has been mined traditionally (artisinaly) for years back to biblical times.
Formalization of the artisanal miners has been strengthened since the early 2000’s that about 1000 Kg of gold is purchased from the local miners and dealers by the National bank of Ethiopia that in turn increases in generation of foreign currency.
Soda ash is being mined at Lake Abiyata in the rift valley about 200 kilometres south of the capital.
The reserve at Lake Abiyata and the surrounding lakes exceeds 460 million tons of sodium carbonate at salt concentration ranging from 1.1 to 1.9 percent, according to the national data.
The plant is producing about 5,000 tons soda ash per year at semi industrial scale. The consumers of the soda ash are local caustic soda factory, soap and detergent manufacturers.
Kaolin, quartz and feldspar are also being mined from the Adola belt in southern Ethiopia by government enterprise. The consumers of the products are the Awash-Melkasa Aluminium Sulphate and Sulfuric Acid Factory and the Tabor Ceramics Factory.
Silica sand is also being mined and utilized by local industries. The cement factories of the country are using high quality limestone, clay, gypsum and pumice as a raw material for cement production.
There is also large input of construction minerals such as sand, gravel, scoria, crushed stones, aggregates, pumice, and scoria, to the construction industry (including buildings, roads, dams, bridges, among others).
Other mineral products including platinum from laterite, industrial minerals, gemstones (opal, peridot and other precious stones) and decorative and construction materials are also produced by licensed foreign and local mining companies in the southern, western, central and northern regions of the country.
There are also some other advanced stage primary gold exploration and development activities in different parts of the country which so far has identified close to 100 tons of indicated reserve of gold and other precious metals.