Yemen is located in the Middle East region and borders the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea, between Saudi Arabia and Oman. The country covers a total area of 527,968 km2 and has a total population of 24,771,809 as per 2012 reports. The climate in the country is hot and humid along the west coast, temperate in the western mountains and extremely hot, dry, harsh desert in the east.
|The national flag of Yemen.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook.
The country has rich reserves of copper, nickel, lead, gold, coal, marble, rock salt, and petroleum. Yemen is highly dependent on its declining oil resources for revenue. Petroleum exports contribute to nearly 25% of the GDP growth and 70% of the government revenue. The GDP of the country was estimated to be $58.71 billion in 2011.
The country has tried to diversify its economy by initiating an economic reform program in 2006 to strengthen the non-oil sectors of the country and its foreign investment. As a result, the country exported its first liquefied natural gas (LNG) in October 2009.
Overview of Resources
Yemen has vast mineral reserves of zinc, silver, nickel, gold, copper and cobalt. The industrial mineral deposits found in the country include zeolite, talc, scoria, sandstone, perlite, magnesite, limestone, gypsum, feldspar, dolomite, clays and celestine. The country also has rich reserves of fossil fuels that include natural gas and crude oil.
The map of Yemen. Image Credit: CIA Factbook
The country’s mineral industry accounts for nearly 7% of its GDP. The value of natural gas and crude oil increased by 43% to about $6.4 billion in 2010 from $4.4 billion in 2009. Government revenue from the country’s oil and gas industry amounted to $2.75 billion in 2010, compared to $1.96 billion in 2009.
Several companies have been allowed to explore the gold deposits in Yemen. Cantex Mine Development Corp. of Canada continued drilling at the Al Hariqah deposit in 2010. Thani Duabi Mining of the United Arab Emirates has found gold deposits in the Wadi Sharis/Hajjah area, which was estimated to provide an average of 7 g of gold per ton. According to 2010 geological and geochemical surveys carried out by several foreign minerals exploration companies and the government, the country was estimated to have 40 gold and silver deposits of which the Medden area has the largest deposit of 678,000 t of gold that can yield an average of 15g of gold and 11g of silver.
The Jabali zinc and silver mine owned by Jabal Salab Co. is estimated to contain 12.6 million metric tons (Mt) of oxide ore grading 1.2% lead, 18.9% zinc and 68 g per metric ton (g/Mt) of silver. The minable reserves in this mine have been estimated to be 8.7 Mt grading 9.2% zinc.
In 2011, Cantex completed drilling activities in Wadi Qutabahnickel-copper-cobalt and PGM project and acquired the Suwar nickel-copper-cobalt deposit. The company has planned to complete the prefeasibility study of the Suwar by mid-2012.
State-owned Yemen Corporation for Cement Industry and marketing (YCC), National Cement Co. (AYCC), and Arabian Yemen Cement Co. Ltd are the major cement producing companies in Yemen. Cement plants at Amran, Bajil, and Al Burh are operated by YCC. In 2009, the Amran cement plant produced nearly 1.3 Mt of cement, the Al Burh produced 553,000 t and the Bajil plant produced 300,000 t. In 2010, AYCC operated the Hadramaout cement plant in Al-Oyoun, which has a production capacity of 1.5-Mt/yr of cement.
According to 2010 reports, Yemen had estimated gas reserves of nearly 490 billion m3. In 2010, the country exported nearly 6.9 billion m3 of LNG, compared to 535,000 million m3 in 2009. The construction of the first 3.35-Mt/yr train of a two-train 6.7-Mt/yr-capacity natural gas liquefaction plant at the Balhaf terminal was completed in October 2009 and the second 3.35-Mt/yr train was completed in April 2010. The project was executed in an attempt to carry the dry gas produced from Block 18 fields in the Marib-Jawf region.
Yemen has large deposits of oil and gold. The foreign investment in the country’s mineral industry was severely affected by the security challenges for investors owing to the global economic downturn and increased risk of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. The Hadramout region of the country has huge deposits of gold. However, terrorism threats in the region kept investors away. Moreover, the inability of government to provide security in the mines also discouraged miners from working at the deposit.
Despite all these external factors, the government is interested in encouraging investment in the production of gold and silver, copper, lead, magnesium, nickel, platinum-group metals (PGM), tin, and zinc. Experts feel that the country needs to attract foreign investment and create job opportunities for the development of the mineral industry. However, the success of the mineral sector will also largely depend on elimination of political instability, improvement of security factors and establishment of efficient mining laws by the government in the future.
Disclaimer: The author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available
Sources and Further Reading