Khartoum, Sudan --- MININGREVIEW.COM --- 09 November 2010 - The government of Sudan has signed 10 exploration deals for gold, iron ore and other minerals as part of a wider bid to diversify the nation's crude-dependent economy, ahead of the expected independence of the country’s oil-producing south in two months.
Mining minister Abdel Bagi al-Jaylani told Reuters that the exploration deals were with Sudanese companies and four international companies from Saudi Arabia, India, Great Britain and China, to search for copper, lead, iron, zinc and gold.
“From the beginning of the year to the end of October, we have mined 23t of gold,” Jaylani said. “Next year I expect to mine not less than 60 to 65t,” he added.
State news agency SUNA reported that all the contracts signed yesterday were for areas in the north of Sudan.
Jaylani revealed that Sudan had signed 47 new mining agreements this year, and expected to sign 50 more in 2011 for mining in the three Darfur states, Kassala and Gedaref in the east, and the north-south border region of South Kordofan.
“Next year I expect to have good revenues from chromium, building materials ‒ marble and aggregate ‒ gold, copper and zinc,” he said, but could not give figures.
Reuters reports that Sudan's economy has relied on oil for years, and that much of the country’s estimated 6 billion barrels of oil reserves lie in the south, which most analysts expect will vote to secede in the referendum on 9 January 2011. More than 90 % of Sudan's foreign currency revenue is derived from oil, and the south is likely take its share after secession, leaving a large gap in Sudan's budget.