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World Bank to fund mineral resources mapping in Africa

(Feb 2014) The World Bank would launch a US$1bn fund in July 2014 to map mineral resources of Africa, using satellites and airborne surveys, according to a report

The bank has reportedly committed US$200mn to the five-year fund, and has been meeting with mining companies and governments from sub-Saharan Africa, Reuters reported.

Paulo de Sa, senior manager, World Bank mining unit, said, “Times are tough, so the mining companies are counting their pennies, but there is a lot of interest because it is exactly when commodity prices are low and the companies are reducing their investment budgets. Having the information to guide their priorities right now is valuable.”

The mapping fund hopes to unearth up to US$1 trillion worth of new mineral resources on the continent.

De Sa met with 10 mining companies, including Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines. Initially targeting southern and eastern Africa, the fund would aim to collate existing data onto a single, digital platform that would be accessible to the public, the report added.

Besides helping to guide exploration investment, African governments could reportedly benefit by being able to negotiate better deals when handing concessions to mining companies.

“If they know what they have in their territory, they are in a better position to fine-tune and calibrate the fiscal regime and mining laws,” he added.

The bank, which has received expressions of interest from Malawi and Mozambique to assist with geological mapping, also wants to identify copper prospectivity in Zambia, Africa’s top producer of the metal.