Morocco's Bureau de Recherches et de Participation Minieres (BRPM) has issued a tender to qualified investors interested in developing a silver deposit in Taroudant Province.
The tender allows for the site to be developed in partnership with BRPM or through the 100 percent ownership of the party that wins the tender.
The site in question is the Zkounder silver mine, which is located near the town of Taliuouine, 770 km south of Rabat. Active between 1982 and 1990, it was shut down as a result of low silver prices. But, reportedly, research carried out by BRPM has indicated the presence of additional reserves with high concentration rates.
Zkounder mine covers an area of 5 square-kilometers, and was earlier known to contain reserves of 300,000 tons with 300-800 grams silver concentration rates per ton.
Morocco produces some 300 tons of silver annually, and in 1999 was ranked as the world's 12th largest producer. The Imiter Mine, located north of Zkounder, is Africa's largest silver producing mine, with an output of 7.7 million ounces in 1999.
World mine production of silver in 1999 equaled 17,007 tons, with Mexico, Peru and the United States listed as the top three silver producing countries.
The mineral industry is Morocco’s largest foreign exchange earning sector, accounting for about 35 percent of foreign trade and about 6 percent of the gross domestic product.
Phosphate mining is dominant with Morocco ranked as the world’s third largest producer, after the United States and China. Other minerals produced include anthracite, antimony, barite, cobalt, copper, fluorspar, iron ore, lead, manganese, salt and zinc.
BRPM has been responsible for the development of most mineral resources found in Morocco to date. A state-owned, but financially independent body, it was created in 1928 and given the task of developing the country's mineral resources, with the exception of phosphates.
In 1993, it began a process of withdrawing from operational mining activity. To this end, it started selling off its holdings to the private sector, and concentrated most of its activity on exploration and development.
The largest private mining company in Morocco is ONA (Omnium Nord Africain). It acquired all or part of several of BRPM’s mining operations as part of the government’s privatization process, including the Imiter Mine. ONA’s subsidiary, Managem, is listed on the Casablanca stock exchange. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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