Gold exploration and mining in Ethiopia
Akobo Minerals AB (publ), is a Norway-based gold exploration and mining company listed on the Euronext stock exchange in Oslo, under the ticker AKOBO, currently with ongoing exploration and mine development in the Gambela region and Dima Woreda, southwest Ethiopia. The operations were established in 2009 by people with long experience from the public mining sector in Ethiopia and from the Norwegian oil service industry. Akobo Minerals holds a mining licence and an exploration license over key targets in the area. Economic mineralisation was discovered and the company is engaged in mining studies to advance the project to production, alongside exploration core drilling.
Through intensive work over the past decade, Akobo Minerals has defined two areas of exploration focus – Segele and Joru. Though both are considered exciting prospects for gold, each is quite different. Segele is quite small, with high concentration of gold, while Joru covers a larger area, with a lower gold content. At both the key targets Segele and Joru the company has so far released exceptionally high-grade gold results including the Segele deposit with an Inferred Mineral Resource of 78ktons at 20.9g/t. A scoping study for Segele includes an up-front capital expenditure of USD $8m and all-in sustaining cost of USD $243 per ounce of gold produced. Core-drilling and trenching at Joru have intersected both high-grade gold zones and large wide zones near surface.
The project itself comprises an Ethiopian exploration and mining license situated in the far southwest of the country. It is located approximately 700 kilometres by road from the capital Addis Ababa and 20 kilometres from the border with South Sudan. The Akobo area is a budding gold district, where alluvial mining with hand methods is widespread. Our area is a part of the lowland of the Akobo Basin, an area dominated by flat to hilly grass- and tree-covered savannah terrain.
The history of Akobo Minerals in Ethiopia is a little over a decade old, beginning when the company was granted its first exploration license – which has since been renewed yearly and also converted into a mining license for part of the exploration license area. However, the history of gold mining in the region stretches back over more than three millennia, when gold was excavated and transported to Egypt for the benefit of the pharaohs. Since that time gold mining activity in Ethiopia has waxed and waned, but until Akobo Minerals arrived, mining in the region was only undertaken by local individual artisans, numbering around 25,000, digging for gold using rudimentary tools.
Covering the license area, exploration activity has outlined alluvial gold resources, and Akobo Minerals’ team of geologists has worked extensively during the past ten years to identify several potential primary gold targets. Following this, the drill program began at the end of 2019 in Segele and has so far shown exceptional high-grade gold results, particularly following a new round of drilling which commenced in late 2020. The results have been confirmed by the international recognized analytical laboratory, ALS.
The company is run by a management team, based in Norway and Sweden, which has a strong track record of corporate management and minerals exploration competence. This team is supported by a workforce in Ethiopia which at the end of 2021 comprised 40 locals. It has always been the company’s strategy to find, train and work with in-country employees, who will work with the small management team in Norway and Sweden, thereby ensuring a low operational cost for the company.
The company has an excellent partnership with national authorities and places ESG at the heart of its activities – a ground-breaking community program is being planned.