Gabon, Africa’s second-biggest manganese producer, wants to partner with private companies to process most its minerals locally before exporting them, Mining Minister Christian Magnagna said.
Local processing will boost the mining industry’s contribution to gross domestic product from the current 2.1 percent to at least 4 percent as the central African nation seeks to make its economy less dependent on oil, Magnagna said in an interview in the capital, Libreville. The country’s main manganese mine in Moanda in the southeast processes about 6 percent of its total output, which stood at 3.8 million metric tons last year.
“Foreign direct investment in our mining sector is low, and the share of mining in our GDP is weak,” Magnagna said. “Building processing facilities requires considerable financial resources. We need public-private partnerships to achieve that goal.”
Gabon’s economy depends largely on world demand for manganese and oil. Crude contributes 30 percent to state revenue.
While the Moanda manganese mine has been operational since 1953, before Gabon’s independence from France in 1960, two other manganese deposits lie near the towns of Franceville and Okondja. The government has so far not managed to find an investor for an iron-ore reserve in Belinga after it went to court to buy back its shares in the project from the China Machinery Engineering Corporation in 2013.
Gold production, which began at the Eteke deposit in 2012, reached 1.15 tons last year. There are two other known gold deposits the government is trying to find partners for, according to the ministry.