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Mineral Potential of Eritrea PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 31 October 2008
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Mineral Potential of Eritrea
Base Metal Deposits

Although Eritrea has a long history of mining, modern mining, began at the beginning of the 20th century following the Italian colonization of the country. Following the Second World War, mining and related operations continued throughout the country, although intermittently. In the early seventies this resulted in the development of the short-lived modern mine at Debarwa, before the independence struggle forced its closure.

Eritrea is becoming a demonstrated potential to host significant VMS deposits after the discovery of Bisha, Harena, and Hambok Massive sulphide deposits in the western lowlands, Koken in the northwestern lowland. Zara shear-hosted gold and the recent findings in Harab Suit and Seroa prospects and Embaderho in the central highlands are additional examples. Moreover, more findings such as deposits which include Debarwa , Adi Nefas and Ketina and many other small prospects has made the country to be known in such type of mineralization.

The potential for shear hosted gold deposits is also demonstrated from the recent, gold discovery in Zara. Exploration work was conducted over a small area, situated along a major shear zone that runs across the country. Although there are many prospective areas waiting to be discovered, the country is not well explored.

Eritrea possesses a geological setting that is favourable for both precious metals and base metal mineralization, as well as for industrial minerals. The range of identified potential deposits covers gold and other precious metals, polymetallic massive sulphide types and quartz vein and quartz stockwork type of deposits. There is an indication of the occurrence of Nickel and chromite showings associated to the ultrabasic rocks in the far north of the country. Occurrences of potash and sulphur evaporates in the Danakil depression, and a variety of construction materials, including marble, granite and others in several parts of the country is also well known.


Recent exploration activities have proved that gold occurrences are very widespread in many parts of Eritrea and the country has a great potential in developing gold deposits. In addition to the previously known areas of primary gold occurrence in the central highlands (which includes the Hamasien gold field), those of Shillalo (in southwestern lowlands) area, and those of southern Eritrea, exploration activity in the last decade has shown the presence of economic gold deposits in the western lowlands and also in the northern part of the country. Among these are gold associated with base metals in Bisha, and gold showings in Haykota area, southeast of Tesseney areas and in northern Eritrea(Zara).

The average head grades in most of the historic vein gold mines that were active during the Italian colonial time up to the late 1950s, were reported to be as high as 25 - 45 g/t, with reasonably good recoveries.

Eritrea’s gold mineralization is usually hosted in quartz veins and stockworks, and in particular in shear zones associated with felsic volcanic rocks, dioritic intrusions and in various schists that are frequently sub-parallel to the strike of the pronounced cleavage of the host rocks. Occurrences of gold within exhalative VMS deposits, and in the weathered and supergene zones overlying them, are becoming more evident with recent additional discoveries of gold in Debarwa and Adi Nefas (in the central highlands), and at Bisha and Harena (in the western lowlands).

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 October 2009 )
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