Senegal’s mining industry – cornerstone of the national economy – The Sierra Leone Telegraph


Miguel Artacho: Sierra Leone Telegraph: September 15, 2021:

The mining sector is an essential component of Senegal’s export industry and contributes strongly to national income and foreign exchange.

The government of Senegal aims to significantly increase foreign direct investment (FDI) in extractive industries to support long-term economic development objectives as outlined in the Plan Senegal Emergent (PSE).

Although the most well-established aspect of the industry is the supply of building materials – including stone bricks, clay, aggregates, gypsum for the production of cement, granite, peat, sand , gravel and rock salt – there are other even more potentially lucrative segments. of the mineral value chain which currently remain below their full exploration capacity, attracting new FDI and generating higher commodity export revenues.

The country has significant reserves of iron, precious metals like gold and platinum, copper, chromium, nickel, zircon and titanium.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) notes ( that the production of zircon by the mining company Grande Côte has led to significant infrastructure investments in Senegal, notably the development of a 30,000 m2 storage terminal at the port of Dakar, construction of a 36 MW power station and rehabilitation of a 110 km railway line from Mekhé to Tivaouane, Thiès and Dakar.

A diverse mix of minerals

In addition to certain minerals currently extracted in traditional mines or quarries; the Senegalese subsoil is rich in deposits of other equally useful substances. For example, the government of Senegal notes that interest in Senegal’s heavy mineral sands has grown rapidly in recent years given the potential they offer. The sand dunes along the Atlantic coast are home to large-scale deposits of industrial heavy minerals such as zircon, titanium, and ilmenite.

Eastern Senegal is also endowed with significant mineral resources which are currently being produced. The Senegalese investment promotion agency APIX notes that mining exploration and geological mapping have revealed metallic and non-metallic minerals, including platinum, chromium, silver, manganese, industrial clays, as well as a variety of ornamental stones widely used in Senegal. craft industry. In addition, the eastern part of the country has significant reserves of marble with six different varieties which are mainly located in the regions of Ndébou, Bandafassi and Ibel.

Gold mining

There are a number of local and international companies actively mining gold in Senegal. The Sabodala-Massawa project is currently the largest producing gold mine in Senegal. Since 2009, Sabodala has produced over 2.6 Moz of gold. It is owned by Endeavor Mining with a 90% stake, with the remaining 10% held by the government.

In addition, the Mako gold mine, located in eastern Senegal, is owned and operated by Resolute Mining’s Senegalese subsidiary, Petowal Mining Company.

Other players include AGEM IAMGOLD which has signed a 20-year concession with the government to operate the Boto gold mine, located on the border with Mali, with an average production capacity of 130,000 ounces of gold. per year on a projected 11 year old mine. lifetime.


Iron ore production is also consolidated as a major and potentially lucrative sub-sector of the Senegalese mining industry. According to APIX, the iron deposits are located in four separate zones and proven reserves are estimated at over 750 million tonnes. Most notable is the Falémé project in the south-east of the country, which has an annual production of 15 to 25 million tonnes of iron ore.

The project was developed as part of the major infrastructure campaign described in the PSE to modernize transport infrastructure in order to attract FDI in strategic sectors of the Senegalese economy, such as mining or hydrocarbons. . The development of the Falémé project is integrated with the large-scale construction of new road and port infrastructure that connects to the mining port of Bargny, where many minerals from Senegal are sent to world markets for export.

Chicago-based law firm Mayer-Brown, which advises clients in various sectors including extractive industries, notes that more than $ 5 billion was invested in Senegal’s mining sector from 2000 to 2015 and that the government of Senegal wants the country to become one of the top seven gold producers in Africa, with an annual production of 17 tonnes of gold by 2022.

A phosphate power plant

Senegal has significant phosphate reserves estimated at between 1 million and 500 tonnes, which places the country among the top ten producers of phosphate in the world. A large part of this industry is centered on the exploitation of the important deposits of lime phosphate in the region of Thiès, not far from the capital Dakar. These phosphates are a key ingredient for the manufacture of fertilizers, an essential input for the agricultural sector which employs most of the Senegalese population.

The phosphate industry has been growing rapidly since the 1940s. Today, Industries Chimiques du Sénégal (ICS) is one of the largest phosphate producers in the country. The company is vertically integrated to produce the essential raw materials needed to operate its large fertilizer and chemical complexes across the country. Another important resource in this sub-sector of the mining industry is the Matam phosphate deposits.

A favorable investment climate

Senegal has succeeded in developing the mining sector due to the modernization of the mining code that took place in 2016, coupled with the many improvements in the investment climate that have taken place under the administration of HE President Macky Sall, who has is reforming the mining industry. one of the priorities since his election in early 2012.

Some of the key changes introduced by the Mining Code are a simplification of terminology. In his analysis of the new legislation, Mayer-Brown reported ( that the old mining code confused investors with terms such as “mining permit” and “mining concession “.

The revised Mining Code considerably simplifies these titles thanks to which a company can now apply for “a small mining permit” or “a mining permit”. The first allows investors an initial term of five years with no limit on the number of renewals.

And mining permits have no limitation on the scale of operations, with the additional advantage that the concession can range from five to 20 years, the duration depending on the type of mineral reserves identified and the sum of the investments required for them. operate successfully.

APIX notes ( that the government, in consultation and in close collaboration with the various actors in the sector, has developed a mining policy aimed at improving the overall performance and profitability of the extractive industries, attracting foreign investors, and in particular, stressing that the mining industry is capable of generating wealth and creating sustainable jobs.

In order to fully capitalize on the enormous potential of the mining sector, Senegal has initiated a comprehensive policy of opening up the industry to foreign investment. The Mining Code allows Senegal and a local or international mining company to enter into a production sharing agreement (PSA), thus giving the mining company the exclusive right to search for and exploit the prospective area, and therefore to recover its investment through the sale and export of the mined substance.

As is generally the case with PSAs around the world, the profits from the sale of the product are then shared between the government and the individual mining company.

Another crucial aspect of the Mining Code is the renewed emphasis on transparency throughout the Senegalese mining industry; a trend that is already a central aspect in other extractive industries such as the booming hydrocarbon sector in Senegal, of which various world-class oil and gas projects will enter service in 2023.

In accordance with the legislation and the various recommendations of the EITI (, under the Mining Code, mining companies as well as the State are subject to much more extensive audits as well as all income mining due to the State is published in publicly available statements as a means of ensuring accountability and transparency.

In addition to all the potentially lucrative minerals in Senegal, what is undoubtedly one of the most valuable elements for the long-term future of the industry, and the country’s ability to attract new investment, is the Senegal long established and successful. references as democracy and the peace and stability of the country. A factor that helps ensure peace of mind for current and potential investors in the mining industry. They can rest assured that their investment in Senegal will be both secure and profitable.

In response to the growing demand for renewable energy and the growing interest of international stakeholders to invest, develop and succeed in Africa, Energy Capital & Power will host the MSGBC Oil, Gas, & Power 2021 (https: // bit. ly / 3C9YHVB) conference and exhibition on December 1-3, 2021.

Focused on strengthening regional partnerships, stimulating investment and development in the oil, gas and power sectors, the conference will bring together regional international actors with African opportunities, serving as a growth oriented platform. for Africa’s energy sector.

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