We've seen a number of countries pushing to re-do their exploration rules lately. And last week news emerged of changes afoot in one more spot--which may have some big implications for at least one commodity.
The place is the West African nation of Gabon. Where the government is reportedly aiming to having a new exploration regime in place by the end of the year.
Officials from Gabon's state mining company Société Équatoriale des Mines told Mining Weekly last week that the rule change is designed to attract new investors to the local sector. By making it easier to explore for new deposits, and develop them after they've been delineated.
During the initial stages of such work, the new mining code will reportedly simplify procedures for licensing of exploration ground. The government will also create an office to organize and make available maps of licenses and possibly other exploration data--at one central location.
Officials also promised an "investor-friendly" tax regime for all of this work.
The changes certainly sound encouraging. Leading to the question: what metals might incoming investors look for?
The nation's only substantial mineral production is currently in manganese. Deposits of iron ore and possibly rare earth elements are also known.
But there's one commodity where Gabon could prove to be one of the most prospective places on Earth: uranium.
Gabon has long been noted as one of the few places with potential for basin-hosted uranium. The same type of geologic setting that's created high-grade mineralization in leading production centers like Canada and Australia.
In fact, Gabon is the only place on Earth where self-sustaining natural fission reactions have been observed in local uranium-bearing rocks. Suggesting that enrichment of the metal here may be particularly strong.
Exploration since colonial times has been minimal. So there's likely still lots here to be discovered. And the new rules should help in bringing some of that potential to light.
Here's to opening up,
By Dave Forest