By: Hassan A. Hussein
Wednesday November 15, 2023
The geology of Somalia primarily consists of Mesozoic to recent sediments make up most of the exposed rocks of Somalia. Two isolated uplifted Neoproterozoic and early Cambrian complexes occur to the west of Mogadishu in the Bur area and in northern Somalia paralleling the Gulf of Aden (Figure 1).
Historically, mineral exploration in Somalia has been sporadic and insufficient, both before and after the country's independence. Limited geological surveys were conducted during the colonial era and the early 1970s. These surveys unveiled the presence of a diverse range of metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits. Among the metallic minerals discovered were hematite, ilmenite, galena, pyrite, arsenopyrite, magnetite, sphalerite, along with deposits of copper, zinc, tin, chromium, and gold within the Precambrian basements of North Somalia. The crystalline basement in South Somalia was found to contain economic minerals such as uranium, thorium, hematite, magnetite, and phosphate (Figure 2).
Somalia's mineral wealth extends beyond metals to non-metallic minerals. The country boasts an abundance of kaolin, gypsum, sepiolite, bauxite, bentonite, zeolite, cement, piezo electronic quartz, tantalite, and more. Nevertheless, the mining sector in Somalia faces significant challenges in the present day. Security issues persist, and there is a paucity of knowledge regarding the extent and potential of mineral resources in the country. This creates an opportune moment for the government to embark on comprehensive exploration and extraction efforts to unlock this hidden economic reserve. The extraction of these economic minerals has the potential to significantly contribute to the country's economic growth and long-term sustainability.
Drawing from the experiences of some of the world's wealthiest nations, including Australia, Canada, the United States, Finland, and Sweden, it is evident that a well-managed mining sector can fuel economic development. The global commodity sector is continuously seeking new frontiers to meet growing demand, and Somalia could be a valuable player in this arena. However, a cautionary note is essential. Without robust governance, a commitment to transparency, and the establishment of strong institutions, the mining sector can easily shift from being an opportunity to a threat, or even from a blessing to a curse. A sobering example is the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where mining opportunities have led to conflicts, corruption, human rights abuses, and illegal exploitation, leaving the nation impoverished.
The potential for Somalia's mineral wealth is undeniable, but the path to realizing this potential must be tread with care, mindful of the mistakes of others, and with a firm commitment to responsible and sustainable resource management.