Extractive Industries


Eritrea was a producer of copper, gold, and silver from volcanic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits. The country also produced basalt, brick clay, cement, coral, granite, gravel, gypsum, lime, limestone, kaolin, marble, pumice, quartz, salt, and sand. Eritrea was not a globally important consumer or producer of minerals in 2013. All mineral resources in Eritrea were the property of the state, and licenses were required for exploration and development.

Salt, gypsum, kaolin and construction materials were produced in 2008 and only salt and gypsum exported. Salt production increased by 350 per cent in 2008 but the country is still a relatively small producer (16th in Africa). Several high-grade polymetallic volcanic massive sulphide (VHMS) deposits have been discovered in recent years (e.g. Adi Nefas, Debarwa, Emba Derho, Bisha) and mining is expected to begin in the near future although exploration and mine development is impacted by political tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia following independence.

The mining sector was governed by legislation that included Minerals Proclamation no. 68/1995, Mining Income Tax Proclamation no. 69/1995, Regulations on Mining Operations Legal Notice no. 19/1995, and Minerals Proclamation no. 68/1995 Amendment Proclamation no. 165/2011.

According to the Eritrean Embassy to SwedenEritrea’s natural mineral resources include gold, copper, potash, zinc, oil, natural gas, cement, gypsum, granite, marble, ceramics, limestone and iron ore. The government of Eritrea and a Canadian company (NEVSUN), have started extraction 2010. The company expects to produce 471,000 oz of gold during the first year of operation at Bisha, and 424,000 oz in the second year. Copper production will begin in the second year and peak at 184-million pounds of copper production has started in 2012 and in the fifth year of operation. The mine will begin producing zinc in its sixth year. There are many more mining contracts on the making. The potash mine in Danakil Depression with a planed output of up to 10,000 ton a day life span of over 150 years, the Zara and Dubarba copper/gold mining Eritrea stands to share in billions of dollars in mining profits.


Exploration activities continue in Eritrea, which currently is a non-producing country for petroleum.  This is despite exploration happening intermittently since the 1930s and the award of exploration and production sharing contracts by the government in 1995.