23 Minerals in Ethiopia with Details (Gold, Gemstones, etc.) 2018

23 minerals in ethiopia

Ethiopian Minerals


Ethiopia is indeed the land of plenty, with resources found in abundance throughout its huge and diverse land mass.

Geological surveys conducted on minerals in Ethiopia, have shown formations that are believed to contain a vast amount of mineral resources, with proven deposits of industrial minerals, coal, precious metals and metals.

Until recently, disputes with neighboring countries and armed groups opposing the government have made it impossible to fully utilize all of the yet untapped natural resources.

Fortunately, with the vast changes taking place due to the reforms enacted by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, peace has returned to Ethiopia albeit some internal ethnic based violence which is being resolved.

Gold is king when it comes to exportable mineral commodities in Ethiopia, bringing in about $300 to $500 million each year.

Massive gold deposits believed to have once been mined by the ancient Egyptians and the legendary Queen Sheba were recently discovered in Assosa, located in the western part of Ethiopia.

The Assosa gold deposit is just one of the many yet untapped sources of gold that could easily put Ethiopia in the top 5 gold producing countries in the world.

Concerning gemstones, opal leads the pack with over 98% by exports value and almost all are exported in their rough form, due to the lack of a developed industry.



Aside from opal, the following are some of the proven gemstone deposits: aquamarine, tourmaline, amethyst, emerald, garnet, peridot, and sapphire.

Ethiopia has a very favorable investment climate when dealing with minerals, while royalty rates are mostly the same as other countries in Africa, equity and tax rates are incredibly low with a mere 5% equity requirement.

Mining in Ethiopia is currently predominantly controlled by low skilled, small scale miners utilizing low technological machineries and inputs.

Oil and gas in Ethiopia has a history which is a little over a century old. In 1860, an oil seep was discovered, but it wasn't till the 1920's that inexhaustible seeps of oil were verified.

The Ogaden basin in the Somali Regional State covers 135,000 square miles (350,000 square kilometers) and is believed to hold massive reserves of natural gas and crude oil.

Several companies from across the world have received concessions for exploration and extraction in Ethiopia but due to tensions with rebel groups and neighboring countries, most have abandoned their projects.

In 2018, Poly GCL was fortunate enough to have struck oil at their oil field of Hilala at the Hamanlei formation, where they had drilled three exploration wells.

All of the three wells have shown gas reserves with 2 of them having oil flows.

According to research done by Swedish Geological AB, Ethiopia can be a major international supplier of minerals, specifically copper, gold, tantalum, potash, iron ore, and coal.

The following are 23 minerals in Ethiopia with their description and details.


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1. Gold


minerals in ethiopia gold

Gold located within modern day's Ethiopia has been mined for centuries and it is believed that the Assosa gold mine could be the oldest mine in the world, dating back over 6,000 years.

Today the largest active gold mines in Ethiopia are Lega Dembi and Sakaro which are located in the Southern People's and Nations Regional State and controlled by the Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi, through his company Midroc.

The gold mined at these locations is believed to be in the range of five tons a year.


2. Platinum


minerals in ethiopia platinum

Platinum has yet to be fully researched and mined, but the little research done so far shows promising possibilities in Ethiopia.

Discovered in the western part of Ethiopia, in a place called Yubdo, platinum was ignored by the locals who opted for gold prospecting instead.

Here is the location of an estimated 150 kilometer belt that contains a variety of ultramafic stratiform deposits which is where platinum can be found.

Platinum deposits have also been found in Sirba Abay which is in the northern most part of western Ethiopia.

For a time, Yubdo Gold and Platinum, an English company, conducting small scale project was the only platinum mining operation in Ethiopia.

Located in Oromia Regional State, they annually produced about 2.5 to 2.8 kilograms of platinum in the western part of the country.



3. Opal


minerals in ethiopia opal

Opal in Ethiopia was discovered in 1994 and has since grown to have an impact on the world market. It rival Australian opal is seen to be more expensive, despite, the Ethiopia's high quality.

Precious, fire, and black opals are now being mined in Ethiopia, under the name "Welo/Wollo/Wello or Ethiopian Opals".

The best and most abundant opals are found in Ethiopia's Wollo region, in the north of the country, they have a wonderful variety of colours and body variety but opals have also been identified in the Shewa region, now known as "Mezezo or Shewa Opals".

Opals from Ethiopia vary widely but the most abundant are the stable and transparent ones that offer a beautiful play of colors within them.

With no large mining companies or jewelry brand, opal production in Ethiopia is still in infancy, but with more investment in this mineral, Ethiopia is sure to become a major player in the world opal market, offsetting Australia's hundred year domination.


4. Emerald


minerals in ethiopia emerald

Emerald mining in Ethiopia is on the verge of growing, but still needs more investment from both government and private entities.

Generally found in an area close to the gold town of Shakiso in the southern part of Ethiopia, the beauty of the emeralds is exceptional.

Mining conducted there is low tech and skills, but shows promise as the quality of the emeralds is gaining in its reputation worldwide.

Most of the mined emeralds are of the lighter green hue and found below 5 carats, but there are bright green 10 carat Ethiopians on the market.

According to current standards, discovery and production, it is highly unlikely that Ethiopian emeralds will ever de-throne Colombian dominance in the market, but low prices and high quality will ensure that it will be a stone to contend with.

The emeralds are natural and do not require the addition of oil to improve its clarity, more prospecting and better technology could bring forth more discoveries around Ethiopia.


5. Oil and Gas


minerals in ethiopia oil and gas

Oil and gas in Ethiopia has a history which is a little over a century old. In 1860, an oil seep was discovered, but it wasn't till the 1920's that inexhaustible seeps of oil were verified.

It was generally referred to as oil in the Red Sea coast but was later attributed to specific areas in the Ogaden basin.

The Ogaden basin has since been divided into twenty one separate blocks making it easier to award concessions to companies.

Blocks attributed to oil are located throughout Ethiopia, in the northeast, southeast and southwest of the country.

So far, companies from all over the world have shown interest and received concessions in different parts of Ethiopia, including the Ogaden basin.

In 2018, Poly GCL was fortunate enough to have struck oil at their oil field of Hilala at the Hamanlei formation, where they had drilled three exploration wells.

All of the three wells have shown gas reserves with 2 of them having oil flows.

The test production phase of Hilala will see Poly GCL producing 450 barrels of oil, daily.

In an area with a proven six to eight trillion cubic meters of crude oil, the Chinese company plans to construct a gas pipeline to Djibouti, where they will build a gas treatment plant, which will convert the gas into liquefied natural gas.

The converted gas will then be loaded on special ships specifically built to transport this gas, which will be exported directly to China.


6. Niobium - Columbium


minerals in ethiopia niobium

Currently, niobium has been identified in the area of Adola in the south of Ethiopia, the localities name is Kenticha.

There exists a line of over 100 kilometers which contains many rare metals, this was given the name Kenticha belt.

The belt is to the eastern side of the gold mining operations in Adola. Another famous Ethiopian gold mining town, Shakiso is only fifty kilometers away.

This area is accessible by air and car transport.


7. Copper


minerals in ethiopia copper

Significant copper reserves were identified in the southern part of Ethiopia, in the Sidamo region.

Further discoveries were located in the Tigray region, which is in the northern part of the country.

Tigray Resources is the company that encountered additional copper-polymetallic minerals close to the site of its successful drilling at the Terakimti prospect.

Another company, Altus Strategies Plc. holds 322 square kilometers in the Tigray-Afar and Negash copper-silver exploration areas in northern Ethiopia through its 100% owned subsidiary Altau Resources Ltd.

Tigray-Afar is subject to a memorandum of agreement with Japan Oil Gas and Metals Corporation and comprises manto style copper-silver mineralisation, forming lenses, pipes or veins.

The Company also holds the 412 square kilometers Daro exploration licence which targets VMS style deposits in northern Ethiopia.

There still is no large scale production aside from existing shallow pits, isolated drill holes, and in and outcrops.

The inclusion of new companies in this sector is sure to make copper mining a lucrative industry for a Ethiopia desperate to develop her mining capabilities.



8. Tantalum


minerals in ethiopia tantalum

The Ethiopian Mineral Resources Development Enterprise worked on the Kenticha open pit which has a niobium and tantalum mine near Borena.

In fiscal year 2001-02, exports of niobium and tantalum concentrates amounted to 61,219 kg at a value of $4.1 million, which was a decrease from 86,982 kg at a value of $6.9 million in fiscal year 1999-2000 (Addis Tribune).


9. Chrome - Chromite


minerals in ethiopia chrome chromite


10. Nickel


minerals in ethiopia nickel

Vale Inco Ltd. the 2nd largest metal and nickel mining company in the world has acquired an industrial mining license in the southern part of Ethiopia.

The company through its subsidiary Vale South Africa Exploration Ltd., is looking to explore nickel, copper, and cobalt which are key raw materials used for industrial production, including food production industries.


11. Manganese


minerals in ethiopia manganese

Largely found in the Wollega region of Ethiopia. There are three characteristics that define the manganese deposits in Ethiopia. 1. Residual concentration type is closely connected with secondary iron accumulations. 2. Hydrothermal type is connected with telethermal iron. 3. Sedimentary type is of marine origin. (Milan Hamrla) The Enkafela deposit in Ethiopia should be given more attention as it will be a valuable to world markets.


12. Limestone

Ancient Jurassic marine sediments cover much of the early sediments including a planation surface of the Triassic age.

The sediments were deposited as a result of marine transgression in the region which swept over the eastern Africa during the first break-up of Gondwana.

The result was to have rocks suchas sandstone, limestone, shale, marls and evaporites, covering large areas of Ethiopia.


minerals in ethiopia limestone



13. Sandstone


minerals in ethiopia sandstone

Ancient Jurassic marine sediments cover much of the early sediments including a planation surface of the Triassic age.

The sediments were deposited as a result of marine transgression in the region which swept over the eastern Africa during the first break-up of Gondwana.

The result was to have rocks suchas sandstone, limestone, shale, marls and evaporites, covering large areas of Ethiopia.


14. Gypsum


minerals in ethiopia gypsum

In 2014, the Geological Survey of Ethiopia identified twenty new mineral deposits.

18 of which the deposits held gypsum, limestone, marble and potash and 19 of which the deposits were found in region of Oromia.

The twentieth contained a coal deposit which was located in the town of Wolkite, in the northern part of Ethiopia.

Modest amounts of gypsum were produced for domestic consumption in the Mugher Valley, at Filikik, and at Dewelle near Dire Dawa.

Most of Ethiopia's gypsum was used in cement and stucco production (Ethiopia Ministry of Mines).


15. Clay


minerals in ethiopia clay

The Ethiopian Ministry of Mines recently handed over its first mining survey license for Kaolin to China Communications Constructions Company Ltd. (CCCC).

Kaolin, also called China Clay, is a soft white and plastic clay mineral which is utilized for ceramics paint, paper filling and coating, plastic rubber, raw material for agricultural fertilizers and pharmaceuticals.

Kaolin is found in regions of Amhara, Oromia and Southern Regional States (specifically in Debretabor, Hosaena and Hadiya areas) of Ethiopia.

Inadequate research on the geological location and deposit of the mineral, inadequate knowledge on the type of the mineral and its benefits and the lack of promotion are the causes for having a very weak clay mineral industry in Ethiopia.


16. Laterite Iron Ore


minerals in ethiopia laterite iron ore

The Zuquala Steel Rolling Mill Enterprise produced steel cable and wire from imported steel. The cost of steel accounted for 74% of the factory's total operational costs. Ethiopia's demand for steel products was expected to rise to 148,000 t in 2005 from 105,000 t in 2000 (U.S. Department of State).



17. Perlite


minerals in ethiopia perlite


18. Halite


minerals in ethiopia halite

In northwestern Ethiopia, artisanal miners produced rock salt in the Assal, Badda, and Gabro areas of the Denkali depression. Total resources of rock salt in the Denkali depression were estimated to be more than 3 billion metric tons.

In the area of Assal, production was about 30,000 tons/year. Salt was also produced from brine lakes in the areas of Assal, Afdera, and Badda in the Denkali depression and from ponds at Emi and Krime in southern Ethiopia.

Large-scale salt production was expected to commence at Afdera in the near future. Salt resources at Afdera were estimated to be 290 Metric tons.

This project and two others of a similar scale were expected to eliminate Ethiopia's dependence upon imported salt. National salt consumption amounted to about 250,000 tons/year; a substantial portion was imported from Djibouti and Yemen (Ethiopia Ministry of Mines, 2002).


19. Potash


minerals in ethiopia potash

Potash deposits primarily in the Danakil region contain an estimated 588.2 million tons of inferred potash mineral resources according to revised estimates reported in June 2012.

The deposit holds 4 potash bearing minerals including sylvite, carnallite, polyhalite and kainite. 3 layers that comprise different constitution of potash minerals dominate the deposit.

The sylvinite layer ranges up to 11 meters in thickness and comprises large amounts of sylvite along with trace amounts of carnallite, anhydrite, clay and dolomite.

The kalnitite member that averages 9 m in thickness is dominated by kainite with lesser amounts of kieserite, carnallite and insoluble material.


20. Oil Shale


minerals in ethiopia oil shale

The EMRDE operated a small mine at Bamba Wuha. The pilot plant had a processing capacity of 15,000 tons/year of kaolin. At the time, Ethiopia had no paper factories.

Consumers of kaolin that produced at Bamba Wuha included the Melkasa Aluminum Sulfate and Sulfuric Acid Factory, Nazret Aluminum Sulfate Industries, and the Tabor Ceramics Factory.

Kaolin was also found at Kombelcha (Ethiopia Ministry of Mines).


21. Lignite


minerals in ethiopia lignite


22. Diatomite


minerals in ethiopia diatomite

Proven resources of the diatomite mines in the Wonji area near Addis Ababa amounted to 430,000 tons.

Less than 2,000 tons/year was consumed by Ethio-Tyre and Rubber Private Ltd. Co. as a filler.

Diatomite was also reported to be used in local plastics factories and pesticides (Ethiopia Ministry of Mines).



23. Bentonite


minerals in ethiopia bentonite