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Gold has been produced in Ethiopia for several thousand years and the production of gold in Ethiopia has played and continues to play a vital role in its development. Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa and is composed of high mountains, deep gorges and river valleys, with a rich cultural heritage spanning thousands of years. Ethiopia is a multilingual society with up to 80 ethnic groups and is one of the founding members of the UN and the Organisation of African Unity, with its capital city, Addis Ababa serving as the headquarters for many global NGOs focused on Africa.

Keen to reduce its economic development on agricultural reliance, the Government has made development of Ethiopia’s mineral wealth one of its leading economic objectives. The primary gold mining operation is at Lega Dembi (the largest mine in the Sidamo province of southern Ethiopia) and Sakaro which produces about 5 tons of gold per annum. With further explorations conducted over the last 15 years showing Ethiopia’s Oromia region has more than 550 tons of gold, over time, this could markedly boost development. Essentially, mining operations within the country are expected to be an important economic catalyst for the Government’s development strategy.

Due in part to the major involvement of the private sector, the Gold industry in Ethiopia is growing dramatically, having seen an increase in gold production by 84% between 1994 and 2004. The investment policy of Ethiopia is generally established under the principles and practices of a free market driven economy. The Government has enacted a very competitive legal and fiscal regime that has attracted many local and foreign mining companies in mineral operations starting from exploration to mining activities.

In line with its growth plans, Ethiopia has licensed several foreign firms, from countries including China, South Africa, the UK, the US and Canada, to prospect for minerals.  As a result, investment in the sector reached $1bn in 2009, according to official figures. Additionally, companies from Guyana, Italy and Norway are operating within Ethiopia.

With more and more potential gold mines being located, such as in the Afar region and in the Konso Woreda in south western Ethiopia, many foreign and some local companies have been granted reconnaissance, exploration and mining licenses for gold and base metals, since the country has sufficient potential to accommodate the interest of many investor.

With Ethiopia keen on developing its economy via its mining operations, currently, the Ministry of Mining is open to inviting all interested companies to invest in its mining industry. As a result, Investors see Ethiopia as a stable, investor-friendly country, with massive gains to be had for Ethiopians, such as improved infrastructure and greater employment opportunities.

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