The Australian company, Ferrex PLC, released the findings of the exploration works in Mebaga’s mining project (309 km²) in the province of Woleu-Ntem.
The company estimates the reserves at 20 million tons and 50 million tons respectively for the ore at 60%Fe and the ore at 47%Fe. Rock samples were analysed by the Bureau of Geological and Mining Research in French (the BRGM, a French organisation). They will be sent to other laboratories for additional analyses.
In July 2014, Ferrex PLC is planning to start a programme for the drilling of 9 exploration shafts. Such programme will be conducted with the two-year financial support from Anglo American and Kumba, the British holding companies, which signed an agreement with the Australian company in 2013.
Ferrex PLC, a company listed on the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) at the London Stock Exchange owns 82% of Resources Equatorial SARL, which was granted Mebaga’s exploration permit in January 2013.
Last March, the Moroccan company, CIMAF (Ciment d’Afrique), announced the project for the construction of a cement factory in the district of Owendo, in the south of Libreville.
The facility, which will cost FCFA19.67 billion (US$40 million), will spread over 5 hectares with a capacity of 500,000 tons per year that could possibly be extended to 1,000,000 tons. CIMAF expects to create more than 200 jobs on the site.
This investment made by CIMAF occurs in a context marked by a shortage of cement supply vis-à-vis a demand, which experienced an annual growth of 9%.
In June 2013, the company initiated works for the construction of a cement crushing and bagging plant. The facility should start producing in December 2014.
In a press release from CIMAF, its Managing Director, Mr. Anas Sefrioui stated that “ the production of CIMAF’s plant in Gabon is exclusively for meeting cement’s local needs. This will definitely have a positive impact on the price of the construction material, a driver of any economic growth”.
Created in 2011, CIMAF is a subsidiary of a company listed on the stock exchange of Casablanca, Groupe Marocain de Promotion Immobilière (Addoha, Moroccan Group of Property Development, in English). The company operates in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso, Cameroun and Morocco.
In November 2013, Comptoir Gabonais de Collecte de l’Or (CGCO), SEM’s subsidiary, incorporated « Gold App » in its project for the collection of gold. This application is meant to secure the traceability of gold collection operations from the point of supply, in the provinces, to the delivery point in Libreville.
The centralised unit is composed of ten Caterpillar B15 telephones equipped with the latest version Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, 5 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablets and a HP Touch computer.
The smartphone with the “Gold” application makes it possible to permanently locate the officer on site. It records all the operations related to collection and purchasing as well as the information on gold quantities, mining and collection sites and the name of the gold miner.
The smartphone also allows organising the conveying of the gold collected from the hinterland to Libreville. The officer selects the supply site (Libreville or another buying centre), the driver, the vehicle, the supervisor at CGCO’s office (the final recipient). They also set the conveying day.
Further to electronic validation of the conveying by the officer, the driver and supervisor selected receive the transport and receipt notifications directly on their respective devices. From their tablet, the supervisor has access to all the information on the quantity of gold, the (collection) site, the destination, the name of the driver as well as the vehicle selected.
Therefore, thanks to the tablets and computer, the driver is monitored in real time by the supervisor and their colleagues in Libreville when starting the transport phase of the gold collected.
Mr. Bouassa, SEM’s Procurement Manager, states that “this device is working very well. We can monitor efficiently the gold collected, from the points of supply to the points of delivery. This system is easy to use and our teams have quickly adopted this tool.”
Mr. Paterne Dibacka, IT Manager at SEM, says that “there has been a clear improvement in the operation of the system in three months. Before, officers could not work offline in areas without network coverage. From now on, they can do so as data recorded in offline areas are synchronised by the server as soon as the officer accesses an area covered by GSM or Internet networks.”
Officials from the company Allante Resources met with the Prime Minister, the President of the Senate, the Minister of Mines and the President of the Chamber of Commerce to present the progress made in the exploration activities undertaken on their permit areas in Malinga (308 km²) in the province of Ngounié and Ngoutou (158 km²) in the province of Haut-Ogooué.
For the permit area in Malinga, in principle, analyses aimed at identifying the presence of platinum, palladium and gold. In the same section of the permit area, these analyses show the evidence of the presence of platinum and palladium (17,18 g/t), nickel (45,87 g/t) and chrome (19,13 g/t). As for gold, analyses are ongoing.
Regarding Ngoutou’s permit area, assessments of stream and rock sediments were carried out in order to identify gold mineralisation areas. These analyses allowed proving the presence of the ore on site within a radius of 12 km.
Allante Resources announced they want to collaborate with the Gabonese government when carrying on with the exploration and mining phases of the sites.
On January 29, 2014, in front of the members of the Gabonese administration and representatives of the private sector, the President of the Gabonese Republic, His Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba, delivered an instructive speech about the social pact.
His speech was following on from the release of a survey on the phenomenon of poverty in Gabon conducted by the firm Mckinsey & Company. The survey, which was undertaken during the period between October and December 2013, was based on the analysis of economically weak households in 48 local districts of the country.
The report entitled “Human Investment Strategy in Gabon” indicates that “Gabon has a significant proportion of low-income households earning less than FCFA 80,000 (US$160) monthly... that is to say 30% of the Gabonese population is earning seven times less than the national average.”
While calling on the mobilisation of all the players, the Head of State set out as objectives to:
These objectives could be used as a reference framework for the companies’ social actions. SEM’s project for the collection of gold, for example, is in line with this objective. Buying gold by its subsidiary Comptoir Gabonais de Collecte d’Or (CGCO) allows securing gold miners with substantial and regular incomes.
Besides, the new mining code organises better the process of redistribution of mining activities revenues. It makes provisions for guaranteeing the contribution of the companies in mining phase to the government socioeconomic and industrial development projects and the improvement of local population conditions of living through the establishment of a community fund which projects will be chosen jointly by the operators, the local communities and the administrative authorities.
Located in the province of Ogooué Ivindo, Bélinga deposit is estimated at 1 billion tons of iron, making it the second largest iron deposit in Africa.
In January 2014, the government bought the deposit back from the Chinese group, China Machinery Engineering Corporation, for US$34 million. China Machinery Engineering Corporation had first acquired the permit in 2007.
Belinga’s project is one of the first issues the President of the Republic, Head of State, His Excellency Ali BONGO ONDIMBA, tackled upon his election as the head of our country.
The project was almost at a standstill. Except a few basic studies, not much had been undertaken on the field. Yet, the will of the Head of State was to see that project develop quickly.
Moreover, the operating model set out then with CMEC was now completely out of phase with the vision of the Head of State. A vision which underpins the local processing of our raw materials for the development of the pillar called “Industrial Gabon”.
Based on these two factors to take into account, the Head of the State instructed the government to amicably cancel the convention signed with Comibel.
The government reached an agreement with the Chinese partners to buy back all their shares in Comibel. In compensation, the latter was refunded of the costs of the works actually undertaken.
Today, this project is developed in the prospect of building a city of iron near Bélinga’s deposit. This will enable the creation of many skilled jobs, the promotion of the development of the region and the acceleration of the diversification of the economy.
Bélinga deposit is a world-class deposit. Its mining obviously requires a strategy to avoid the mistakes of the past.
For that purpose, we should define an operating model which is economically viable and protects the interests of Gabon.
For that purpose and on instruction of the Head of State, the government started the assessment of the deposit’s resources. In the same time, studies on infrastructures were also initiated.
Over time, the government will have unquestionable data and information so as to define the best operating model for this deposit.
The social impacts of this project are numerous. We must remember that the development of Belinga’s mining project will be undertaken in line with the provisions of the new mining code, which emphasises on the civil responsibility of the mining companies.
As well as creating direct and indirect jobs, the project will involve the construction of collective facilities, the provision of some basic social services and the development of related activities. To sum up, this project will promote the development of the region.
Considering the size of the project, the participation of private investors will necessarily be requested. Indeed, be it for studies, the construction of infrastructures, the financing and mining of the deposit, it is obvious that the government will rely on the contribution of the private sector, consisting of local and/or foreign investors.
I just want to make clear that the choice of these investors will be based on good governance and transparency standards.
ANGT is currently dealing with the infrastructure component especially the plan of the rail line and the evacuation port. These works are progressing well and we will communicate on that when appropriate.
As for the government’s expectations and event later those of the operator that will mine the deposit, it is essential to have a quality and sustainable infrastructure.
The option of sharing that infrastructure with other companies from bordering countries is being studied.
Mabounié’s mining project in the province of Moyen-Ogooué arouses many expectations from the government. The project consists notably of the construction of a pilot plan as well as the training and recruitment of local personnel.
The site in Mabounié contains reserves of niobium, rare earths, tantalum, uranium and phosphate. The company Maboumine, a subsidiary of Compagnie Minière de l’Ogooué (COMILOG), holds a permit for the exploration of the site.
In 2012, the government established an inter-ministerial committee to monitor the Maboumine project.
This inter-ministerial committee includes the strategic committee, which monitors and most importantly makes decisions about the development of the project.
The strategic committee includes many ministries (Economy, Budget, Interior, Health, Environment, Labour, Infrastructure, Higher Education and Mines), a representative of the Presidency of the Republic, a representative of the Prime Minister’s Office and the representatives from the Eramet Comilog group. They have quarterly meetings.
Below the strategic committee is a steering committee, which meets monthly. It is composed of many experts generally representing the ministries or any other organisation involved in the development of the project.
Under the steering committee comes a project team mainly consisting of officers from the ministry of mines. This team monitors the project on a daily basis.
Maboumine project is not a new project. It was initiated few years ago. It aims at mining and developing a polymetallic deposit comprising notably phosphate, niobium, thorium, rare earths, tantalum and uranium.
Since uranium and thorium are radioactive ores, mining this deposit requires the use of a completely new process of ore separation and reduction of radioactivity. This is the complexity which led to the temporary abandon of that project.
The repercussions do not concern only that province, but the entire country. The project will allow the creation of jobs, the development of economic activities and the building of infrastructures.
In 2016, the pilot plan, which will make it possible to try the process of separation and reduction of radioactivity, will start its activities. It will employ about 200 people during 2 to 4 years.
If this test phase proves to be conclusive, a commercial plant will be constructed and then create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
Lambaréné’s mining cluster will be developed around this project.
On March 6, 2014 and under the auspices of the President of the Republic, Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba, and King Mohamed, the Gabonese Republic, represented by the Minister of Mines, Industry and Tourism, the Minister of Oil and Hydrocarbons, as well as SEM Chief Executive Officer; and the Kingdom of Morocco, represented by the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Investment and Digital Economy, the Minister of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment as well as OCP Chief Executive Officer signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of a fertiliser production industry in Port-Gentil in the province of Ogooué maritime.
The production of this complex is estimated at 2 million tons per year from 2018 and will be for African countries where the demand for fertiliser is particularly high. Africa indeed exports almost all its production of nutrients and imports most of its needs in fertilisers. In fact, Africa represents only 3% of the world’s consumption of fertilisers. This under-consumption of fertiliser contributes to agricultural crop yields largely lower than those in other regions in the world.
The ambition of the promoters is that Africa makes up for lost time by consuming fertilisers from the processing in the continent of its own nutrients (urea, phosphates, etc.). This project intends to the creation in Gabon of a fertiliser factory and another one of ammoniac, fuelled with the Gabon’s gas; and a second fertiliser factory and another one of phosphoric acid in Morocco fed with Moroccan phosphate.
5,000 direct and indirect jobs are to be created in Gabon as part of this project as well as exchange programmes in the field of technical training through Mohamed VI University of Technology and its School of Industrial Management. The project will also have other impacts, especially in the field of the development of industrial ecosystems.
On March 7, 2014, Société Equatoriale des Mines (SEM) and Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines (“ONHYM” in French) signed an agreement, which establishes a scientific and technical partnership between the two organisations.
Faced with the quick development of the mining activity in Gabon, SEM is concretely planning to take advantage of the experience and expertise gained by the “ONHYM” in mines.
The fields of practical cooperation will be as follows:
Officials from Société Equatoriale des Mines and the Canadian company, Allante Resources, met on last March 27. Each party presented its ongoing projects and opportunities of partnership in some projects were discussed.
For the time being, Société Equatoriale des Mines is focusing its exploration activities on gold and is planning to extend them, in the medium term, to the exploration of manganese and iron. As for Allante Resource, it holds two exploration permits in Gabon including Mebaga (platinum, palladium and gold) and Ngoutou (gold).
Mining Indaba, which is the world’s major meeting of the mining sector brought together nearly 7,250 participants of which 2,100 companies (operators and service) and financial institutions (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, banks, hedge funds, sovereign funds, stock exchanges and commodity exchanges), 37 government delegations (ministerial authorities and regulatory agencies) and 10 non-government delegations, as well as many research institutes and representatives of NGOs.
Organised in lecture series, the event constitutes an opportunity for the governments willing to promote investments in their countries and the companies which want to present their services to potential customers. It therefore provides with an exceptional framework for exchanges and negotiations between the participants.
The Gabonese delegation was conducted by the Minister of Mines along with members from his office and the Directorate-General of Mines and Geology, Société Equatoriale des Mines (SEM), which was represented by its Chief Executive Officer, Geology Manager and Business Development and Strategy Manager; as well as COMILOG which was represented notably by its Managing Director.
The participation of the Ministry of Mines consisted in attending technical sessions and promoting the sector’s opportunities. The latter focused on Bélinga’s mining project (province of Ogooué Ivindo) which deposit is estimated at 1 billion tons. The Minister of Mines made an exceptional presentation on the project.
Upon the opening of the conference, the Minister of Mines delivered a speech on the openness of the sector to foreign investments. “My country is open to foreign investments coming from everywhere. We have completely started a strategy for the diversification of our mining products and for the development of new partnerships. We are committing to protect foreign investments.” he pointed out.
Bélinga is the largest mining project in Gabon. The development of the deposit will take place in the context of the new mining code marked by major developments as far as protecting foreign investments is concerned.
Besides Mining Indaba, the Gabonese delegation attended the second conference of Franco-Mine which theme was “Amendments of mining codes in Africa: factors of legal insecurity or economic development”.
The event which was organised by the Canadian government saw the participation of many other African delegations. The issues discussed included establish dialogue between all the parties (operators, local populations and government) in the whole process of the mining activity and the redistribution of mining revenues. This meeting was timely for Gabon which will soon implement its new mining code.
As for Société Equatoriale des Mines (SEM), it focused on the promotion of its projects and the search for financial and technical partners. Bareja Youmssi, the Business Development and Strategy Manager, indicates that “SEM has three major projects and they involve gold, manganese and marble. As for gold and manganese, our needs focus on exploration and mining. As regard marble, they mainly concern mining and cutting.”
Gabon’s stand recorded more than 1,000 visitors particularly interested in the existing opportunities. These visitors were interested in the availability of perimeters and occurrences for the exploration of ores (iron, gold, manganese, etc.), procedures for the granting of mining rights, updated maps of mining titles and the new mining code developments.
Moreover, the Japanese government, in cooperation with Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) said it was willing to assist Gabon in order to build technicians and engineers’ capacities in the areas of geoscientific new technologies, mining prospection and the preservation of mineral resources mining environments.
SEM established many contacts with the companies interested in its projects and in the Gabonese mining sector. Some companies offered to finance its projects and other operators requested its support in order to develop mining projects in Gabon. Not to forget the companies that indicated their wish to get involved in SEM’s projects.
SEM’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Fabrice Nze-Bekale declared that “SEM’s participation in Mining Indaba was a success. We managed to make contacts which will prove to be useful in the development of ours projects. With some of these contacts, we want to develop memorandums of understanding possibly leading to joint ventures.”