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Doing Mining Right in Eritrea

Eritrean miners having a lunch break at the Bisha mine

Doing Mining Right in Africa

By Thomas C. Mountain,

The small east African country of Eritrea has started a mining industry and is doing it right. To start with Eritrea is receiving 40% of the profits generated by its first gold/copper mine.

Compare this to Tanzania where Anglo-American mining company operates one of the worlds largest gold mines and pays a whopping 4% royalty to the government.

Thanks to Wikileaks we know that the USA forced sanctions against Eritrea through the UN Security Council in 2009, not to punish Eritrea for allegedly supporting “terrorism” (i.e. Al Shabab in Somalia) but in an attempt to sabotage the start of Eritrea’s mining industry.

40% vs. 4%? Small wonder that Eritrea’s deal threatens western interests for if the rest of Africa takes note and begins to follow suit in the deals cut allowing exploitation of the continents resources Pax Americana and its vassals are facing a serious problem.

Mining is a dirty, dangerous industry which inevitably scars the land and leaves behind massive amounts of cyanide and acid polluted slurry. Any country starting a mining industry has to face up to whether mining is a blessing or a curse.

Unfortunately small, war and climate change ravaged countries like Eritrea badly need foreign currency to pay for medicines, fuel, machinery and to help pay for building the infrastructure colonialism failed to provide.

When Eritrea won its independence on the battle field in 1991 there was no national electric grid. Most of the people had no access to clean drinking water, medical care or education for their children. While major advances have been made in providing these basic human rights to Eritrea's people much, much more needs to be done and developing the mining industry is an immediate answer.

Still, once Eritrea's first mine runs out of ore it faces a major problem in dealing with the mines “tailings pond”, actually a massive reservoir of cyanide and acid polluted water, the by product of the process used to extract the gold and base metals from the ore. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of barrels of “slurry”, toxic and very, very difficult to treat.

In most of Africa, in the rest of the world really, the multinational mining barons just walk away from this problem, taking their super profits with them. This is not going to happen in Eritrea.

First of all the “tailings pond” has to be built right. A densely compacted base of gravel is laid down, similar to a heavy duty road bed and then covered with not one, but two layers of acid resistant rubber.

Once the mine has exhausted the ore bearing rock the best solution presently available is to cap the “tailings pond” with a layer of rock and absorbent earth which acts like a sponge, soaking up rainwater during the rainy season which later evaporates under the scorching east African sun.

This prevents the water from reaching the toxic slurry and prevents it from overflowing and seeping out into the ground water. Bore holes down slope are monitored to test if any of the slurry is leaking and can be used to pump back into the capped “tailings pond” any leakage, god forbid.

Compare this to the all to common practice of abandoning the tailings ponds, leaving them to burst their banks during major floods and polluting the surrounding lands and waterways with toxic slurry for many many decades to come.

Eritrea is doing mining right, yet is being condemned by reports in the western media that can only be termed malicious. To start with there have been a series of stories claiming that Eritrea uses “slave labor” to build its mines.

A closer reading reveals that what is actually going on is that members of Eritrea's national service program are helping construct the mines.

In Eritrea everyone is required to complete their national service obligation. Most of the country's school teachers are in the national service program along with many of our nurses, medical technicians as well as our troops at the front defending the country from Ethiopian invasion. To say that being a member of the national service program is tantamount to “slave labor” is to say that most of our teachers are “slave labor”?

Still, this matter obviously needed more investigation and over the last few years I tracked down half a dozen national service members who have helped build Eritrea's first mine, the Bisha gold and copper mine. First of all, they all verified their work at Bisha by showing me photos on their mobile phones of them actually working at Bisha.

All of them, while not being happy with the very small salaries paid national service members, were proud of the work they had done helping build Eritrea's first mine. They knew that the foreign currency the mine would bring in was badly needed and that their contributions would really help the country.

When I asked them if they ever considered themselves to be “slave labor” they were rather insulted. In contrast, none of the reports claiming the use of slave labor in Eritrea's mining industry could provide any proof that those persons they interviewed every worked at the Bisha gold mine let alone were actually anything other than national service members.

Today the Chinese are constructing a new mine, the Zara Gold mine, and members of the Eritrean national service program are participating. I know one of them, Tseggai Asmerom, who is a surveyor at the site and in the national service program. Tseggai says the work is hard, the sun is hot but he actually enjoys it and is proud of his contribution. Of course he wishes his salary was larger, but that is another story.

Like I have said, Eritrea is doing mining right and the rest of Africa would be well served to take notice. As for those outside maligning our new industry, it would serve your readers well if you would do your homework first and report reality on the ground here for a change.

Thomas C. Mountain has been living and writing from Eritrea since 2006. He can be reached at

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Doing Mining Right in Eritrea Reviewed by Admin on 6:12 AM Rating: 5


  1. ንአና፡ማእቀብ፡ዝገበሩልና፡ 20009 ንኤርትራ፡ናይ፡ማእድን፡ከይተውፅእ፡ሽጣራ፡ንምግባር፡እዩ።
    እብቲ፡ባህሪ፡ዋላ።ሀደ፡እንጎላዊ፡ዝበሐል።የሎን፡ነት፡ቦታ፡ዝቆፃፀርዋ፡ባእሎም፡ናይ፡አሜሪካ፡ማሪን።ኢዪም። መርከባት፡ናይ፡አሜሪካ።እንዳመፃ፡ዘይት።ምውሳድ፡ጥራይ፡ኢዩ።መንኢኩም፡ዝብሎም፡የብሎምን።ካብኩሉ፡ብጣእሚ፡ዘህዝን፡እቲ፡ፕሬዝደንት፡አንጎላዊ።አይኮነን፡እታ፡ጎሉ፡ካብ፡አለም፡ሀብታማት፡ካብዝበህሉ፡ሀንቲ፡ኢያ።

  2. Thanks Thomas C. Mountain for your article and your witness, we see a diffamation lately in a canadian weekly news paper, but they describe and how you see in the ground are completely different..It's upon us readers to be attentive to distinguish on how to select and verify information as we note there is a lot of lie on the world.

  3. What I can I say, we Eritreans have no choice but to constantly shoo away pestering flies!

  4. Asha yihalu kesihikena yublu Tegaru,

    "In most of Africa, in the rest of the world really, the multinational
    mining barons just walk away from this problem, taking their super
    profits with them. This is not going to happen in Eritrea."

    what kind of benefit the people of Eritrea get from the mining? let me guess, Eritrean get money from the mining and use to run from their country in all direction.

    so Africa should take a lessen from this experience.

  5. The dinning room @ Bisha looks much better than the university I am attending in the US.

  6. Long Live Ayder School bombingOctober 7, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Eritrea was paradize before badme war, until the komalat agames has draggen the entire horn to their agame level...Glad to see ERitrea is recovering...i remeber when dirty agames was crying to sanction bisha, but again agame lost...

  7. Where is the university you are Attending? You sound you live in prison!

  8. If it's better than US ,Why don't u go back their????? Ugly ass Askari ...stop talking shit ..I am 100% sure ,your not attending any college because u wouldn't talk shit like that ..shabia negrozzzzzz when are u guys gonna respect someone land ??specialy when u are living in western countries ..shame

  9. We said No to charity or Aid coated in evil vendetta. Now we are shining by the fruit of our hard work. Remember: people only rain on your parade because they’re jealous of your sun & tired of their shade. According to wikileaks, once in 2008, Hilary Clinton was found to say, “Eritrea is bad example of good governance”. and thats why they want to make us kneel. b/c we say we're the drivers of our future!!

    Like us or hate us we're still gonna shine. Awet N'hafash!!!

  10. cry loser. envy and jealousy eats inside alive

  11. So house fly, Call me what you want, I’ll just call you jealous. It’s okay, I’d be jealous too. hahaha...byeee

  12. Been busy lately.

  13. Hagos kisha been transferring our money to his mother land Tigray. According to many people, Hagos started stealing money way before independence of Eritrea. It is time for you pea brains - EriRat, CaneLibero, wake up and know who is working for Eritrea. and against Eritrea.

  14. Wizee, no be fitting name as gado and no person as Gado of Gadi of awate, queen of gossip from Q8!
    Btw I hung-around Werkawit Hotel; any recollections?

  15. U pussy ..fufu ass negro just pay ur 2% tax for your master ...

  16. Useless internet warrior.go help in rebuilding Eritrea like brave Eritreans instead of talking trash 24/7.ur life must be so miserable that the internet has become ur life. Feel sorry for ya bro....

  17. እሱ።ጥራይ፡ከይኮነ፡አኔም፡ክከፍሌ።ውሂድና፡ንብል፡አለና

  18. No wonder! Ethiopian saying 'torenet kefetawe were yefetawe' .
    Fellow Eritreans be careful of these kind of people who wants to infiltrate and make fussy.

  19. awate .com ኢልካ፡እንታይ፡ፍልልይ፡አለዋም፡ምስ፡አይጋ፡ቮርም፡እቲ፡ናይ፡ወያኔ፡ኢዩ፡እትሀድ፡ወያኔዩ፡ዝረድኦ፡ስለዚህ፡ንምንታይ፡አይጋ፡ቮርም፡ኢሉ፡ምባል፡አይህሸካን።
    ካልእ፡wikleas ከምዝበሎ፡አዋቴ፡ኮምን፡አሰና፡ናይ፡ወያኔ፡ኮደምቲ፡ክኮኑ፡ኮለው፡አስመሪኖ፡ኮም፡አሜሪኮ(CIA)ዝህግዞ፡ኢዩ።

  20. ወያኔ፡ጎይኩም፡አብ፡ሰልዲ፡ኢኩም፡ክንደይ፡ይክፈለካ፡ኢዩ???
    ከመይ፡ጌሩ፡ይልመን፡ትፈልጡ፡ኢኩም። ቁሩብ፡ካብ፡አሊሳ፡ተመሀር፡ብዛእባ፡ሞራል፣

  21. Komal agame getting angry freghting by the eritrean unity and well standard dinner room in busha but that is eritrea who ever bark at us when we at high cruse spead only we can do waving our hand signaling to follow us

  22. እዚ፡ቆልአ፡እንታይ።ይገብር፡አሎ፡እብዚ።አዴካ፡ከይትቆዮካ፡ቀልጢፍካ፡ኪድ፡ናብ፡ገዛካ።

  23. My apologies to Cane Libero. Cane Libero is the genuine Eritrean.

  24. Z-Qursus, Z-Duruz, Z-mush-mush shabato woyane lol

  25. Ebud Kelbi,
    Why care about building Eritrea? Go lick your masters leftovers lol

  26. YoYo nice nick:)
    You play it like yoyo (lawzuy Lawtuy) LOL

    Dawn is over you Erena babe.

  28. cyber warriors are someone who came and talk garbage like you. cyber warriors are like who come to eritrean page to spit your garbage from that puny brain of yours. did your weyane leader. like መኮንን, Awet, Saba, Alec and cane libero
    are here every day to defend their country and weyane cyber warriors like try to look smart. just Get out from here agame. this is eritrean page.

  29. hey yoyo you sound like a dummy. did your weyane leader told you to write that.

  30. We know he is. and you are a genuine komal agame.

  31. ዛ ሓወይ ክሳብ መዓስ ኢኻ ዓጋመ አንዳበልካ ክትጻረፍ ሚስኪናይ፦ ኣነ ሓንቲ ክነግረካ ተቃዋማይ ኣይኮንኩን ደጋፋይ ዊን ኣይኮንኩን ጊን ንህዝበይ ሰላምን ቅሳነቲን ሓጎስን ራህዋን ክኾነሎም አየ ዝምነ። ኮመንት ምግባረይ ከኣ አቲ ምግናን ስለ ዘይተበራሃኒ አዩ። እዚ ወዳሓንካ

  32. I said that because i can see their IP address it is located in Ethiopia. they are agame. sorry i send that to you.

  33. አምበርብርOctober 8, 2014 at 3:15 AM

    እንዲያው በቃ ለየላችሁ ማለት ነው? በገንዘብ የተገዛ ፈረንጅ መሰከረልን እያላችሁ ነው መሰለኝ፤፤ ምን አለበት አመሳስላችሁ እንኩዋ ለመዋሸት ብትሞክሩ:: ምድረ የቢሮ ፀሃፊና ከአስመራ የሄዱ ጋዜጠኞችን ሰብስባችሁ እነዚህ ናቸው የማዕድን አውጭዎቻችን አላችሁንኮ! ወይ ጉድ! ቀልዱን ተዉትና እውነተኞቹን ባሪያዎቻችሁን አሳዩን፤፤

  34. ሐቅካ፡እዚ፡ሐወይ።

  35. Kkkk tazarbli moynti ekiteki at I gahsari dumu...talking shit 24/7 won't change a penny.go work instead u faggot lazy ass...

  36. እስካስ፡ባእልካ፡እንታይ፡ትገብር፡አለካ።

  37. ነዚኦም፡እንታይ፡ክንከላከል፡ሱቅ፡ኢልና፡ክንፃረፍ፡እንበር፡እዚኦም፡ዘይረብሁ።

  38. I'm a student and live in germany and here you are in eritrean page agame. kkkkk

  39. I'm proud of you መኮንን for defending our country.

  40. አኔ፡ዝክእላ፡እዚአ፡ጥራያ።

  41. ተመሐረልና፡ኢሪና፡ክትመሀረላ፡ትደልያ።

  42. wow you reply so fast it's good. i will, i am studying
    medicine. i'm eliza nice to meet you መኮንን.

  43. we will give Everything that we have to our eritrea and to our falling heroes family's.

  44. Bravo!!!!!አወት፡ብትምርትካ፡እምነየልካ፡እዚ፡ሀወይ!!!!

  45. Don't you know where I live is an open prison, If you don't know by now you must be dumb.

  46. Ahmed in the open prison u are living at you have a choice if you are smart enough to know your direction. If you don't want to live in that open prison then move back to Eritrea and enjoy the closed prison.

  47. Mr/Ms Gado electricity and water shortage is happening around the glob. Thank you for the donation you had in mind if you can spend it to educate yourself, but I am satisfied with the assistance my government provides.

  48. Eriugly very soon you will be deported to you mama Tigray with your uncle Hagos Kisha.

  49. If anyone believe is more Eritrean than me, he/she do not mean the same Eritrea we talk about lol

  50. Mr. Mountain, you seem to live on the the highest altitude of Eritrea's mountain of Embasoira, you are breathing thin air, thus causing the deprivation of the essential Oxygen to your brains. Think twice before you write anything to embrace and glorify the barbaric regime and its notorious dictator in Eritrea. Hitler and the Nazi regime also had "great minds" in making and doing "Things" before anyone could do it, but their cruelty and barbaric nature and nurture devastated/wasted/destroyed/killed/imprisoned millions of lives, destroyed billions worth of properties, and YES in the end they destroyed themselves. Understand, that the whole world is not talking/accusing/blaming the Eritrean regime on the way they produce "Things", on the way they run their "Farms, mines and factories", on the way they build their "Dams and roads". The world is talking/writing/protesting/sanctioning the regime and its dictator for its inhumane behavior and acts on its own innocent citizens. We are talking about human beings that breath/talk/walk/think/work and want to live and enjoy their God/Allah given life like you and me.Remember Mr. Mountain, a rattle snake that appears to be fully domesticated and friendly, may strike again and again at any unpredictable time and place against its own caretakers/close associate/admirers/ followers/defender, as it did on many occasions. If you survive such higher probability of imminent danger, what would you write/say? Thanks

  51. Yo Yo, it's called Love and dedication to your country!!! I know that is alien to your ears. If you stick around more you might (might being the operative word) Shake off your slave mentality and learn equal partnership mentality and Alec is right Madam Clinton did say that!!! That remarks is shared by every Western leader.

  52. Young Agame,
    Kkkkkkkkkkkk, wey Teerse!!!! Sakulih....Sakuliheeeee new emilihe!!!! Your jealously has no bound!!!! Why did Eritrea got sanction then? Alshebab ENDATILENGi BICHA.. Don't make laugh again!!!

  53. EriUgly, where is your uncle Kisha from??

  54. Thank you and God bless you!

  55. Yohanes, aka, Don Quixote of Weyane, you failed to heed my gentle advice to hibernate for sometime. (in TesfaNews).
    Are you a degenerated animal?

    The article is a verifiable genuine testimony of an encouraging performance, an input useful to African countries engaged in the mining industry.
    You should praise Mr. Mountain for his efforts and not criticize him maliciously just because his theme is reffered to Eritrea.

    Poor devil, permanently stuck in a devious mentality.

  56. A renegade 'rocket scientist' (renegades are Godless) thanking and blessing a certified defamation expert, such as Yohanes, is pure blasphemy.


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