Ethiopia is the largest and most populated country in the Horn of Africa and lies completely within the tropical latitudes. The capital is Addis Ababa, located almost at the centre of the country. Ethiopia is Africa's oldest independent country and its second largest in terms of population. It has served as a symbol of African independence throughout the continent's colonial period and was a founding member of the United Nations and the African base for many international organisations.
Gold is Ethiopia’s primary mineral export and has been mined for centuries through artisanal mining methods of placer gold from alluvial deposits. Artisanal miners, which are estimated to be close to 1 million in number, produce and export up to 9 tons of gold per year.
Ethiopia is viewed as a country with underdeveloped hydrocarbon and mineral wealth, and opportunity for future economic development is viewed as a significant economic driver for the country. New mining regulations were issued in 1993 with the purpose of promoting the exploration and development of Ethiopia's natural resources.
The Arabian-Nubian Shield is a significant gold producer with numerous gold deposits and artisanal workings across the whole district. Host rocks are diverse ranging from graphitic mica schist and ultramafic rocks, example Lega Dembi in Ethiopia, to granite stocks, example Sukhaybarat East in Saudi Arabia, and associated with granite contacts, example El Sid and Umm Rus in Egypt. Other hosts include metamorphosed mafic lavas, volcaniclastic tuff, phyllites and granodiorites. Mineralization is present as quartz veins, veinlets, stringers, stockworks, and breccias. Veins are dominated by quartz, carbonate (calcite, dolomite and siderite), pyrite, arsenopyrite and pyrrhotite, and the wall rock alteration is typically sericite, chlorite, and carbonate.
In the Arabian-Nubian Shield VMS deposits occur in at least 60 occurrences distributed throughout Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These deposits and occurrences are concentrated in ten districts on either side of the Red Sea.