Gabon recently celebrated a significant milestone as President Ali Bongo Ondimba inaugurated the country's first gold refinery.

Gabon inaugurates historic gold refinery

The Gabonese Gold Refinery (ROG), the first gold processing plant in Gabon, has come on stream, as the oil producing country pushes for a more diversified economy. With a refining capacity of 7 to 10 tonnes of gold per year, the plant is a joint venture between the state-owned Equatorial Mining Company (SEM) and Alpha Centauri Mining (ACM), a company held by British and Emirati investors. Currently, total national gold production is estimated at around 2 tonnes. Located in the Special Economic Zone at Nkok in Libreville, the gold refinery is based on Italian technology, has zero emissions and 100% Acid Recovery, according to ACM. “It symbolizes the metamorphosis of our economy towards more diversification, job creation and local added value through the on-site processing of our raw materials,” President Ali Bongo Ondimba said during the commissioning of the project earlier this month, adding that Gabon plans to refine “100% of the gold produced in the country, make our country a hub for gold refining in Central Africa and allow up to a third transformation on site in particular to make jewellery in Gabon.” Last year, the Government of Gabon signed convention agreements with Alpha Centauri Mining (ACM) to boost gold exploration, exploitation and refining in the country. The company entered Gabon in 2016. The agreements set the framework for the commissioning and operation of the country’s first gold refinery. Mining for growth and development The commissioned refinery forms parts of efforts to develop Gabon’s gold potential as it seeks to expand an economy largely dependent on oil. The Central African nation is already one of the world’s top manganese producer and exporter but wants to develop additional minerals found in its soil. In a bid to attract investors and support local content development in the mining industry, Gabon adopted a new code for the sector in 2019. Earlier this year, minister for investment promotion and public-private partnerships Hugues Mbadinga Madiya echoed the government’s efforts to curb the export of raw materials as a means to improve higher value-added trade. “The general policy of the Gabon government is not to export raw materials,” Mbadinga Madiya told newsmen on the sidelines of the Africa Investments Forum & Awards in Paris in February. “The model of supplying raw materials does not create jobs.”

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