Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — 26 April 2013 – AngloGold Ashanti Limited, the world’s third-biggest gold producer, and its partner Stratex International plc are expected to begin drilling for the precious metal in Somalia on the horn of Africa in September.
The two companies, which obtained 10 exploration licences in Somalia, have identified two blocks that may hold “high concentrations” of gold, according to Abdourahman Omar Haga, director of natural resources in the Ministry of Energy. He told Bloomberg News in an interview here that the companies would continue to explore the remaining eight blocks as well.
The first stage of drilling is expected to take less than four months, Haga said. Thani Ashanti Alliance Company “’ a joint venture between AngloGold and Dubai-based Thani Investments “’ will spearhead development if sufficient reserves are proven, he added.
Djibouti, which hosts about 2,500 U.S. military personnel at the Camp Lemonnier military base, has a US$1.1 billion economy with fewer than 1 million people. The economy relies on services related to the country’s strategic location on the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
The joint venture is planning to drill by the fourth quarter “subject to monies being available, and the arrangement of appropriate logistical support and approvals,” AngloGold said in an e-mailed response to questions.
“We have a port, a good investment code and tax exemptions” Haga said. “It’s easy to have successful businesses here. We just hope that the price of gold doesn’t continue to drop.”
Thani and Stratex are exploring an area of land between Lake Assal and Lake Abbe in the south-western part of the country, where gold deposits are embedded in volcanic rock. Lake Assal lies 155m below sea level and is Africa’s lowest point on land.
Djibouti’s mining industry accounts for less than 1% of total economic output, according to the African Development Bank.
Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.