Mining industry boom in Senegal
- The substratum of the Senegalese territory offers great varieties of mineral substances including the noble metals (gold and platinum), the base metals (iron, copper, chromium, nickel), industrial minerals (industrial phosphates, limestone, salts, barytine etc.) heavy minerals (zircon and titanium), decorative stones and building materials etc.
- Senegal has a wealth of diverse and unexploited mineral deposits which until recently have lain dormant. Previously Senegal’s mining industry was dominated by the exploitation of phosphates, industrial limestone and attapulgite. Phosphates in particular formed one of the key components of the Senegalese economy since the time of independence in the 1960’s.
- However, thanks to a new mining Code adopted in 2003 and to the significant investment promotion driven by the Senegalese government and its development partners, the diversification of the mining activity is growing through the exploration and the exploitation of gold, iron ore, uranium and copper in the south-east of Senegal as well as the development of zircon and titanium in the littoral zone.
Phosphates: Senegal set to rank as a top ten phosphate producer worldwide
- Senegal’s modern mining history dates from 1940’s – 1950’s with the opening of two large phosphate mines (Taiba) and Lam-Lam in the region of Thies, 70 km from the capital Dakar.
- These very important phosphate deposits secured the success of the Senegalese economy for several decades. The deposits of Taiba are now being matched by other excellent projects that are under exploration or appraisal, notably the phosphates of Matam, Cocki, Gossas and Niakhene.
- In the North Eastern part of the Basin in the province of Matam, the existence of phosphate deposits with an average proven resource of 40Mt have been discovered since 1984. A small percentage of these deposits are being exploited with a small scale mining plant, producing natural fertilisers for Senegal’s agricultural industry. Confirmation of these mineral deposits would give Senegal a potential of 500 – 1000 Mt of phosphate, which would rank the country amongst the top ten phosphate producers in the world.
- In the area of Thiès-Lam Lam, there are significant alumino-calcic phosphate reserves (approximately 80 million tons) which may be valued through calcination for natural fertilizers and animal feeds.
Industrial Limestone: Senegal the answer to satisfying regional cement demand
- The west central part of the Sedimentary basin conceals important resources of limestone and marno-chalky. The Eocene marno-chalky of Bargny located 30km from Dakar is the location of the first cement factory in West Africa ( SOCOCIM), which has been active since 1948.
- There is an important deposit of Paleocene limestone resources located between Mbour and the southern areas of Pout, Kirene and Bandia. A second cement factory has opened in Kirene during 2002 (Cements of the Sahel).
- Encouraged by strong domestic and regional demand, cement capacity may be doubled at these two factories to bring their joint output to about 6Mt of cement from 2010.
- A major international cement company plans to build a 2.5 mt/y cement factory in the near future in the Pout region and other is planned in the Bandia region producing 1.5 mt/y.
Attapulgite: a potential export earner for the Senegalese economy
- Attapulgite may not be one of the most sought after minerals but it is certainly going to be of value to the Senegalese economy. The clay mineral is mined, dried and granulated, then exported to Europe mainly as cat litter and gastric medication.
Heavy Minerals: Senegal to posses one of the largest zircon mines in the world
- International interest is rapidly growing in Senegal’s heavy mineral sands. This type of ore deposit can be an important source of industrial minerals such as zircon, as well as precious metals and gemstones.
- An Australian mining company is planning to exploit a 50 km band of heavy mineral sands which contain a world class deposit. Construction of the project located on the Grand Cote, will cost $200 million, production is expected to realise 85,000t/y of zircon (making it the fourth largest zircon mine in the world) 20,000t of rutile and leucoxene and 650,000t of ilemenite.
- The project has an estimated 26Mt of heavy metal resources (1,300Mt of sand at 2% heavy mineral) and a projected life of 25 years, the production will represent 8% of the world consumption of zircon and 25% of European consumption.
Gold: Senegal set to become one of Africa’s leading gold producers
- The production of the first ingot from the Sabodala gold mine in 2009 celebrates the exploitation of a discovery made nearly 50 years ago; previously it had small levels of production, now it can make a real contribution to the Senegalese economy. Today the exploitable resources are estimated to contain 1.63 Moz of gold, with resources of 3.55 Moz.
- A company has been awarded an exploration licence for the surrounding area of 230km2. Twenty pockets of mineralisation have been found, with four potential fields, current resources are valued to 2.24Moz.
- Adjacent to these two aforementioned projects are 25 gold research permits, occupied by eight foreign companies and nine domestic companies.
- At the South of the Sabodala deposit, another major international mining company has discovered an important gold potential of 3Moz at Massawa.
- Further east along the border with Mali, another company is conducting field work, where interesting results were obtained in the Guemedji zones.
Iron Ore: a world class deposit to be exploited in the near future
- The deposit on four distinct areas of the region totals an estimated 750 Mt.
- An integrated project is planned on a Greenfield site, including the construction of a 750 km railway line to transport iron ore to the coast, major electricity generating installations and a new deep water port at Bargny-Sendou near Dakar.
- The project is expected to produce 15 – 25 Mt/y of ore. The potential benefits to Senegal are 4000 jobs being created directly 16,000 created indirectly and the opening of this isolated part of the country to become a leading industrial centre.
Uranium: potential identified and exploration resumed
- The search for uranium which experienced a significant development between 1965 and 1984 has gained impetus since 2007, with the arrival of a junior mining company (acquired in the meantime by a major international player) who hold the East Saraya research permit.
- Uranium exploration could also be of interest in the shale of Mako and Diale.
- Lithium, Tin and Molybdenum: The paleo-proteozic granite of Kedougou-Kenieba inlier contains an important concentration in lithium, tin and molybendum.
- Copper and Chromium: Airborne surveys and soil geochemical surveys, have found indications of copper and chromites in Gabou and Diabal. Further work in 2008 has prompted the recommencement of exploration work in Gabou and Boullbi.
- Nickel – Copper and Platinum: A Cu-Ni anomaly as well as traces of platinoides have been discovered in 1978. Further work has been carried out in the sectors of Simpampou, Koulontou and Dioudiou-konko confirming potential.
- Marble: Senegal has considerable and valuable marble reserves estimated at several million cubic metres most of them unexploited. This is found mainly in the south east of the country in the Nebou Bandafassi-Ibel region. Asphalting of the roads will be the first step to exploiting the quarries which bear up to six different varieties of marble.
- The extra siliceous sands of Malika and Diogo on the coastal zone are useable in glass manufacturing
- Diatoms ( diatomite) of the Tanma Lake, which can be valorised after separation, for the production of mineral loads and agents of filtration
- The accumulation of barite in Kidira, of kaolin in Kouroudiako, of asbestos in Nangare Bassari, as well as the occurrences of zinc, lead, tungsten in the Birimian rocks.