Gabon: Eramet announces the opening of a new manganese mine

Present in Gabon for more than half a century, the Eramet mining and metallurgical group has confirmed the development of the future Okouma site, a manganese deposit that will be exploited by the Compagnie minière de l’Ogooué (Comilog), its Gabonese subsidiary.

It already controls the Bangombé plateau, located near Moanda (south-east of the country), whose unique manganese content makes Gabon one of the world’s main producers of this mineral. For the French group, the objective is clear: to increase Gabon’s overall manganese production capacity from 4.3 million tonnes/year in 2018 to 7 million in 2023. An increase in power which, according to the company’s estimates, will eventually reduce the cash cost of production of its manganese branch by around 20%, and increase its world market share to 15%, compared to 10% at present.
As for the estimated cost of the project, based on technical and economic feasibility studies, it should be around €640 million of investment over a period of 5 years. The financing has yet to be found. Quoted by Jeune Afrique, Léod-Paul Batolo, Comilog’s general manager, confirmed that his « company was looking for[these funds] for its Comilog 2020 project, which includes both the new mine and a laundry, as well as increasing storage in the railway station ».

The Eramet Group in figures (2018) © Eramet

It should be noted that, at the same time as the Gabonese mining project was announced, Eramet also confirmed the development of its lithium deposit in Argentina, with the group focusing in particular on the energy transition (lithium is an essential component of certain technologies related to the storage of electric batteries) to reposition itself on an international scale.
The world’s second largest producer of high-grade manganese ore, COMILOG, which employs more than 3,500 people in Gabon, generated sales of CFAF 741.2 billion in 2018, up 16.8% from 2017 (CFAF 634.5 billion).