By Barry Malone, ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia has almost tripled earnings from gold exports to $300 million in 2009/2010 from $105 million in 2008/2009, outpacing plans to double revenue this year, its mines minister said on Monday.
“We’ve gone up to $300 million mainly thanks to stabilising the market and introducing incentives for our artisan miners,” Minister for Mines and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu, told Reuters in an interview.
The independent miners, who were now guaranteed steady prices from the central bank, had brought in $100 million of the revenue, he added.
A fledgling gemstone industry raised $1.245 million, the minister said.
Alemayehu said Ethiopia had identified possible gold reserves of up to 500 tonnes in different regions and wanted to attract investors interested in exploration.
“We have 86 Ethiopian and international companies exploring for gold, base metals and gemstones like opal, emerald and ruby but we’re ready to offer a total of 180 licenses so we’re inviting investors,” Alemayehu said.
Out of the 86 companies, 30 are exploring for gold, according to the ministry.
Saudi Arabia’s Midroc Gold Co. and Britain’s Golden Prospecting Mining Co. discovered recoverable deposits estimated at more than 40 tonnes of gold last year and were awarded extraction licenses.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector lender, in May invested $5 million in the fledgling sector through Nyota Minerals (NYO.L).
Nyota has announced a maiden inferred resource of 690,000 ounces of gold at the Tulu Kapi project, 500 km (310 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa.
Overwhelmingly reliant on exporting commodities like coffee and sesame, the Ethiopian government predicts growth of about 10 percent for 2010/2011. The International Monetary Fund says the economy will grow by 7 percent.
Ethiopia has made $450.5 million from about 48 tonnes of gold exports in the last 10 years, according to the central National Bank of Ethiopia.