Extractive Industries

Mining

Minerals and hydrocarbons constitute about 80% of the total value of the Mauritania’s exports. The country has extensive deposits of iron ore and its mineral sector is traditionally dominated by iron ore mining and beneficiation which accounted for nearly 40 per cent of total value exports. Other mineral commodities produced included copper, gold, gypsum, salt and crude petroleum.  

Mauritania was the 2d-ranked exporter and producer of iron ore in Africa after South Africa, and it was the world’s 11th- and 15th-ranked exporter and producer of iron ore, respectively.The reserve base was estimated at 1.5 billion tonnes of iron ore with about 1 billion tonnes of contained iron.

Copper production, which resumed in late 2006, increased by 16.85% in 2008 and Mauritania was the fourth largest copper producer in Africa accounting for 3.4% of total output. Gypsum production decreased by 9.75% in 2008 to approximate output levels achieved in 2005-06. Mauritania was the eighth largest gypsum producer in Africa.

In recent years Mauritania has also become a significant gold producer and more than doubled output in 2008 to become the eighth largest producer in Africa (1.2% of the total). The Tasiast gold deposit is located within the Archean age Aouéouat greenstone belt, a 70 km long by 15 km wide north-south trending belt of mostly supracrustal rocks situated within the south-western sector of the Reguibat Shield (or Dorsale Reguibat). The Guelb Moghrein gold deposit appears to be of Iron Oxide Copper Gold (IOCG) type, and is hosted by gently dipping mafic volcanics and sediments, adjacent to a small gabbroic intrusive. Copper-gold mineralization, which comprises coarsely disseminated chalcopyrite and cubanite, with minor free gold, cobaltite and arsenopyrite, is associated with disseminated magnetite and intense siderite alteration of a mafic volcaniclastic unit (source). 

Petroleum

Crude petroleum was discovered offshore in 2001 and production commenced in February 2006 making Mauritania Africa's newest, in small-scale, oil producer. Production decreased by 19.85 per cent in 2008 and follows on from a 51.45 per cent decline in 2007. Oil prospects, while initially promising, have largely failed to materialize. There may be additional oil and gas reserves inland in the Taoudeni basin. The natural gas resource remains undeveloped.