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LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 11 July 2012 – Large-scale destruction caused by wars that raged across West Africa over the last two decades means the region must improve its infrastructure to make the most of its abundant natural resources, says a new report by international business intelligence providers GlobalData.
According to this latest analysis*, the years of civil war that blighted Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have devastated roads, rail lines and ports that must be repaired and supplemented if West Africa is to perform as it can in the mining industry.
Liberia must better its road connectivity substantially, requiring 800km of regional road construction and a massive 1500km of national roads in order to meet connectivity standards and fully capitalize on its iron ore mining potential.
Sierra Leone needs additional rail and port facilities, as there is only one of each to serve the iron ore mining industry. The county’s Pepel port, which serves the entire sector, is capable of handling 16.2 million metric tons per annum (MMtpa), and, while the current production rate is a little higher at 16.5 MMt, this figure is expected to spike enormously, reaching 67 MMt by 2020.
The mining of gold and iron ore are key areas of investment in West Africa at present, with as many as 15 projects expected to start between 2011 and 2015. Gold mined in the region reached 6,552.7 thousand ounces in 2011 – 8% of the total global production. GlobalData’s analysis projects that this amount will climb further still, to reach 7,470.1 thousand ounces during 2012.
Iron ore production levels are also expected to soar during this period, particularly in the nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia. These states accounted for 17% of the region’s iron ore output in 2011, and this is expected to more than double to 35% by the end of 2015. Uranium and copper deposits are also under development in Mauritania and Burkina Faso.
Governments and industry bodies across West Africa are working together to develop mining opportunities. To attract greater foreign direct investment and increase revenue transparency, many of these countries have become members of international standards authority, the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, as well as acting to relax the procedures required to get mining licenses and permits.
Organisations such as West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Development Bank (ADB) are also playing key roles in developing the region’s mining industry.
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