Djibouti: Mineral Industry Overview

(HornTrade) – In 2009, the small East African country of Djibouti was a producer of perlite, salt, and such construction materials as basalt (table 1). Djibouti’s production and consumption of minerals were not globally significant.


Salt production started on a semi-industrial scale at Lake Assal in 1998. Production increased from 2004 to 2008 because of the resumption of demand from Ethiopia. Production had nearly ceased in 2004 because of a 53% tariff that Ethiopia imposed in October 2003 on salt imports from Djibouti. Perlite mining started in 2009.

Structure of the Mineral Industry

Salt production at Lake Assal and perlite production were carried out by privately owned companies. Small amounts of salt were also produced at Doraleh by artisanal miners.


Deccan Gold Mines Ltd. of India and JB Djibouti Mining Ltd. (a subsidiary of JB Group of India) started gold exploration at the Asaleyta and the Hesdaba properties in February 2008. The companies engaged in channel sampling and drilling at Asaleyta and Hesdaba; gold mineralization was epithermal (Deccan Gold Mines Ltd., 2009, p. 10).


In April 2009, the Government granted JB Djibouti Mining a mining license for a perlite deposit near Ageralayta. JB Djibouti Mining started a pilot mining project; the company planned to start large-scale mining in August 2009 (JB Group, 2009).


Djibouti’s salt production was limited by reliance on the Ethiopian market, the absence of reliable water and energy supply, and an inadequate regulatory framework. Other constraints included poor working conditions and a lack of iodization machinery (Geographic Environmental Solutions, 2008, p. 12).

Société d’Exploitation du Lac Assal’s salt mining operation on the shore of Lake Assal had a capacity of 86,000 metric tons per year. Salt Investment SAZF [a joint venture of Emerging Capital Partners LLC (ECP) of the United States, Hardtechnologies Group of Spain, and Société d’Exploitation du Lac Assal] planned to complete a new salt mining operation and processing plant at Lake Assal with a capacity of 4 million metric tons per year by June 2010. The company planned to export 85% of its production to Middle Eastern countries for use in the chemical industry and 15% to Europe and North America for use in road deicing (Geographic Environmental Solutions, 2008, p. 12; Feytis, 2009).


Deccan Gold Mines Ltd., 2009, Annual report 2009: Bangalore, India, Deccan Gold Mines Ltd., 64 p.

Feytis, Alexandra, 2009, Djibouti’s salt emergence: Industrial Minerals, no. 504, September, p. 15.

Geographic Environmental Solutions, 2008, Salt Investment SAZF—Lake Assal salt project, Djibouti—Environmental impact statement: Johannesburg, South Africa, Geographic Environmental Solutions, 108 p.

JB Group, 2009, Djibouti mining project & gold exploration: JB Group. (Accessed May 19, 2010, at djibouti_mining_project_gold_exploration.html.)

Source: United States Geological Survey

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