Monetizing mining industry

BY ADDISALEM MULAT

 It appears clear that Ethiopia is inundated with a wide spectrum of worthwhile minerals that can transform the lives of the general public and create more jobs at the earliest possible opportunity if utilized in the appropriate manner beyond a shadow of a doubt.

In the same way, Ethiopia is blessed with precious yet neglected minerals that could make huge economic differences if properly exploited. Lack of the required finance, technology, experience has stymied the growth of the sector.

Yet, if appropriately managed, the sector has immense potential in bringing the much needed foreign currency and creating massive job opportunities for local communities and the way to big companies.

Indeed, the minerals do not only jewel the country but also could pour the country with huge financial resources. And there are calls from expertise to monetize the sector through providing finance, encouraging modern mining, supplying latest technologies. These measures are among the must-do tasks to transform the sector.

Notwithstanding the fact that the incumbent regime is moving heaven and earth with a view to creating more job opportunities for the unemployed segment of the society, the sought after goal has not been achieved yet.

 Against this background, socioeconomic bedlam, illicit human trafficking, criminal acts, illegal migration, and things of that sort have been surfacing throughout the national territory in several instances.

It is abundantly clear that if Ethiopia properly takes advantage of its mineral resources in a suitable form, the country can reach new heights of success and transform the lives of the wider community without problems in a very short space of time.

On account of quite a lot of reasons, Ethiopia was not able to secure its natural assets in a way that could merit the entire population by working hand-in-glove with local government officials and other stakeholders who know the nuts and bolts of the potential mineral resources of their respective regions like the palm of their hands.

One of the factors barricading the general public from benefiting from the mineral resources positioned in the left, right, and center of the country is a lack of capable professionals who can bring to light the natural resources of the country no matter what the cost may be.

In the recent past, in an interview Dr. Eng. Abubeker Yimam Ali, an Associate Professor and Dean of School of Chemical and Bio-Engineering at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology, Addis Ababa University regarding the issue said,

“Ethiopia is also exporting several types of gemstones, such as opal, emerald, and sapphires. Opal is Ethiopia’s largest gemstone export, accounting for more than 90% of all gemstones exported out of the country. However, the country is not getting the maximum benefit as the sector faces a challenge with cutting and polishing. The government should support and encourage exporters to sell only cut and polished stones directly to the global markets.

Ethiopia has the potential to be one of the leading exporters of lithium. Recently, an estimated 250 thousand tons of proven reserve of lithium oxide discovered at Kenticha mine. Lithium has several uses in the industry.

Recently, the rise in demand for electric vehicles increased the demand for lithium batteries. Global demand for lithium is expected to surge over the next decade, owing largely to the evolution of electric vehicles. Hence, the country should be ready to utilize this immense opportunity.

He went on to say, “The potash reserve in the Danakil, Dallol Depression of the Afar region is one of the highest in the world. Prospecting for iron, copper, and base metals is also in progress in many regions of the country. Ethiopia has an estimated more than 70 million tons of iron ore deposit in Amhara,  Oromia, and Tigray region,”

As Iron is the key element for the manufacturing of steel, local demand for iron is expected to continue because of the infrastructure boom in the country. The government is currently working with international mining companies to explore and develop iron ore.

“The country has also a variety of industrial minerals such as limestone, clays, sand, gravel, diatomite, kaolin, bentonite, silica, barite, gypsum, and talc.

These minerals are essential raw materials for cement, ceramics, paints, glass, chemical, and paper industries. Hence, the development and expansion of industrial minerals are very important,” he wrapped up.

Taking the aforesaid reality on the ground, all stakeholders should be able to work as alike as two peas in a pod with the intention of getting to the bottom of the problem within a short period of time.

By hook or crook, all the materials required for extracting minerals from the ground should be available by all means possible with a view to speeding up the job creation and taking the country to new heights of success.

The Ethiopian Herald January 8/2021

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