Algeria Finally Exploiting Its Iron Ore After 70 Years
With deposits of gold, zinc, copper, and phosphates, Algeria has significant mineral resources. Many of them have been left unexploited, but now the country is counting on them to diversify its economy, Cyril Fourneris reported for Euronews.
Photo Insert: Iron ore mining
To achieve its industrial ambitions, Algeria has relaunched several large mining projects. The one at Gara Djebilet in the Sahara is among the most pivotal. The desert landscape is covered by a blackish layer. It's the surface of one of the largest iron ore deposits in the world.
Billions of tons of iron ore have been lying dormant since their discovery in 1952.
Finally, after years of studies, the site was opened up this summer. In the long term, the objective is to extract tens of millions of tons per year, including the 12 million tons needed by the Algerian steel industry.
"The only deposit in Algeria that can meet this demand is the Gara Djebilet deposit," says Noureddine Aoussat, Technical Director at the Algerian national iron and steel company Feraal.
"Exploiting it is easy, it's in the open air. The waste rock is only 60cm thick. You remove 60 cm and you see the ore!"
"The world's major consumers are now starting to find it difficult to obtain supplies," explains Mahmoud Boukrouma, the site manager at Feraal. "So as soon as they found out there was a large deposit in Algeria, they came forward to buy our product."
Analysis of the samples shows that the ore contains 90% iron, but also phosphorus, an undesirable element. The processing is set to be done in new complexes in the north. A new railway line is planned to transport the millions of tons extracted and to create a western economic corridor between Tindouf and Oran, the city that's home to the leader of the national steel industry: Tosyali Algeria.