Ethiopia's minerals industry has been only of minor
importance, contributing an average of less than 0.2 percent
of GDP at constant factor cost between l984/85 and l988/89.
Although it had reported the existence of a wide range of
minerals throughout the country, the government had
authorized little exploration. Thus, there are no reliable
estimates of the extent of mineral resources. However, there
has been some small-scale mining for minerals such as gold,
platinum, salt, limestone, and clay. Gold has been mined at
Adola (in Sidamo) for many years. In l981/82 output at this
site in southern Ethiopia averaged around 500 kilograms per
annum. However, by 1985/86 production had dropped to 293
kilograms. In l987 the government reported the discovery of
large gold deposits in Lege Dimbi, also in Sidamo. Observers
believed that prospectors mined an annual average of 7.5 to
8 kilograms of platinum in the Yubdo area in Welega.
Stretching inland from the Red Sea coast, the Denakil
Depression has large salt deposits. Production averaged some
20,000 tons annually. Other major salt sources are found at
Aseb and around Mitsiwa, also on the Red Sea. According to
some estimates, Ethiopia produces about 300,000 tons of
marine and mined salt annually. However, this supply fails
to satisfy domestic needs because the government exports
salt to improve its hard-currency reserves.
A large potash deposit, estimated at l40 to l50 million
tons, is located in Tigray's Dallol area. Production has
averaged less than l million tons per year.
Large iron ore deposits are scattered throughout the
country. During the Italian colonial period, a few companies
started iron-mining operations in Eritrea but abandoned them
after the Italian occupation ended in 1941. In the late
1980s, prospectors identified iron ore deposits estimated at
20 million tons in the Agametta region (near Mitsiwa) and
another l60,00 tons of iron ore in Welega and Bale.
Copper, lead, and zinc deposits are found near Debarwa,
thirty-five kilometers southwest of Asmera. In l973 the
Ethio-Nippon Mining Share Company started mining copper in
Debarwa. However, the Eritrean war forced an end to
operations two years later.
Limestone is excavated near Mitsiwa, Dire Dawa, and Addis
Ababa. The limestone is used chiefly at the cement works
operating in those cities.
Data as of 1991