Sudan, Saudi ready for Red Sea mining

Sudan, Saudi ready for Red Sea mining

KHARTOUM - Agence France-Presse
Sudan, Saudi ready for Red Sea mining

AFP photo

Sudan and Saudi Arabia are targeting a 2014 start for deep-water mining of a Red Sea basin believed rich in gold and copper, Sudan’s mines minister said Tuesday as Khartoum seeks to replace lost oil revenues.

Manafa International Trade Company of Saudi Arabia and its joint venture partner Diamond Fields International Ltd of Canada received a license in 2010 to explore the area about 115 kilometers west of Jeddah.

“It is already started and it’s underway,” the Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Ali al-Naimi, said on the sidelines of a regional mining conference.

“We are expecting starting production maybe 2014,” added Sudan’s Minister of Mining Kamal Abdel Latif. He said reserves are “very huge” at 150 tons of gold and more than one million tonnes of copper.

However, Diamond Fields has reported estimated copper reserves at less than half that amount.

Diamond Fields said last month that it is scheduled to meet in December with “third parties to discuss possible financing options” for the Red Sea project.

Sudan and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement in 1974 to exploit the Red Sea’s resources.

Sudan is trying to boost exports of gold and other non-petroleum products after the separation of South Sudan last year left Khartoum without three-quarters of its crude production.

As a result, inflation has soared above 40 percent and the currency has plunged in value after Sudan lost most of its international payments capacity and half its fiscal revenues.