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China is eager to get Gabon’s huge deposits of iron ore and manganese

 Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

Gabon is still negotiating with its Chinese partner to develop the giant Belinga iron ore deposit, a project key to diversifying the country’s oil-reliant economy, but it will likely bring in other miners and could break up the vast concession.
The government has ordered a reassessment of the iron ore deposit, and the mines minister has said new partners may not be chosen until results are known in 2014.
Albanian Minerals President and CEO Sahit Muja Gabon hold about tow billion tons of iron ore, also is world’s leading producers of manganese. According Albanian Minerals, Gabon produced 1.6 million tons of manganese in 2012, and 1.5 million tons in 2011. Gabon holds about 30 million tons of manganese.

Albanian Minerals CEO Sahit Muja said “China has launched its investment policy because of crippling pressure on its own natural resources in a country where the population has almost trebled from 500 million to 1.3 billion in 50 years. China is hungry natural resources, minerals, oil, natural gas, for land, food and energy. While accounting for a fifth of the world’s population, its oil consumption has risen in the past decade and Africa is now providing a third of it, imports of iron ore, chrome ore, manganese, copper and aluminum have also risen in 2013.

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The economy was reliant on oil for about 50% of its GDP, about 70% of revenues, and 87% of goods exports for 2010, although some fields have passed their peak production. A rebound of oil prices from 1999 to 2008 helped growth, but declining production has hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. Gabon signed a 14-month Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF in May 2007, and later that year issued a $1 billion sovereign bond to buy back a sizable portion of its Paris Club debt.

Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management has stifled the economy. However, President BONGO ONDIMBA has made efforts to increase transparency and is taking steps to make Gabon a more attractive investment destination to diversify the economy. BONGO ONDIMBA has attempted to boost growth by increasing government investment in human resources and infrastructure. GDP grew more than 6% per year over the 2010-12 period.
By: Kim Long
New York News