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West African mining market must improve its infrastructure

Press Release   •   Aug 20, 2012 15:05 BST

The West-African mining market must improve its infrastructure if it is to have any chance of making the most of its abundant natural resources, after experiencing two decades of destruction from large scale wars in the region.

The years of civil war that shattered Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have destroyed roads, rail lines and ports that must be repaired and supplemented if West Africa is to perform as it can in the mining industry.

Growth in West Africa's mining market will be focused on iron ore as the region contains some of the world's largest untapped high-grade reserves.

Iron ore production levels are expected to soar, particularly in the nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia. These states accounted for 17% of the region's iron ore output in 2011, and this is expected to more than double to 35% by the end of 2015. Uranium and copper deposits are also under development in Mauritania and Burkina Faso.

Guinea's iron ore production is set for phenomenal expansion to over 115mntpa (mn tonnes per annum) by 2016, turning the country into one of the world's largest iron ore producers.

The mining of gold is also set to be a key area of investment in the West African mining market at present, with as many as 15 projects expected to start between 2011 and 2015. Gold mined in the region reached 6,552.7 thousand ounces in 2011 - 8% of the total global production. This amount is expected to climb further still, to reach 7,470.1 thousand ounces during 2012.

West Africa's mining market is fairly well consolidated at present, with only a few companies operating in the region. Iron ore and bauxite mining is dominated by Vale and Rio Tinto, which have the capital to develop mines and the appropriate infrastructure. Gold mining is fairly fragmented with large multinational miners AngloGold Ashanti and Newmont Mining, as well as smaller companies such as Cluff Gold.

For more information on the West African mining market, see the latest research: West African Mining Market Report

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