Map of Tigray's mineral resources (north Ethiopia) - Canadian and other international mining licences
In Tigray, artisanal mining of gold in the low-lying areas with outcropping Precambrian rocks is one of the major off-farm income sources. The 17th C. Portuguese traveller Barradas had already mentioned gold production in Tembien. Rural youth seasonally migrate to inhospitable lowlands and gorges such as the largely uninhabited Weri’i River valley, to search for placer gold, washed out from weathered gold-containing quartz veins within the meta-sediments and meta-volcanics. In recent decades, large-scale gold exploration and mining of gold deposits has been carried out in various parts of Tigray by local (such as the Ezana Mining Development P.L.C.) and several foreign exploration companies particularly from Canada. Recently, The Ethiopia Cable exposed links between big Canadian mining interests and a renewed PR campaign (involving Canadian professor and lobbyist Ann Fitz-Gerald) to whitewash the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments. Earlier on, it had already been suggested that one of the reasons for the Canadian government being very late in officially addressing the atrocities in the ongoing Tigray war, might be related to the country’s mining interests in Tigray.
Here we contextualise Tigray’s gold and base metal resources, and present a map of active and applied mineral exploration and mining licenses in Tigray. The largest exploration license areas are concessions of Canadian companies, followed by the U.S. and the United Kingdom.