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Ethiopian gold exports drop sharply

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Gold’s Legadembi
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 05 March 2010 – Ethiopia made US$47 million (R352.5 million) from gold and tantalum exports in the first half of its financial year, after earning US$105 million (R787.5 million) from gold exports alone last year, the country’s ministry for mines and energy reveals.

“Most of the money was made by Midroc Gold Company, which earned US$40 million (R300 million) from exports,” ministry spokesman Bacha Fuji told Reuters. Midroc is owned by Ethiopian-born Saudi business tycoon Sheik Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi.

Tantalum exports by the state-owned Ethiopian Mines Development Share Association, earned more than US$4 million (R30 million), Bacha added. Tantalum is used in consumer electronic products. The rest of the money was made by the country’s national bank from exporting gold found by artisan miners.

Reuters reports that the Horn of Africa country is offering exploration licenses to foreign firms interested in mining unexploited gold reserves.

Mines and energy minister, Alemayehu Tegenu, told Reuters in November that the government had signed agreements with Midroc and Britain’s Golden Prospecting Mining Company to extract an estimated 43 tonnes of recoverable gold over the next 11 years.

The Ethiopian government says it has identified possible reserves of up to 500 tonnes in different regions.

Ethiopia has made US$450.5 million (R3.4 billion) from about 48 tonnes of gold exports in the last 10 years, according to the country’s National Bank.