South Sudan chooses mining over oil

South Sudan, the world's newest nation, has announced plans to enact a mining law by the end of October, pushing ahead exploration and expansion in the likely mineral rich, but unexplored country, helping it to diversify its economy away from oil, a senior official told Reuters.

The country, which became independent on July 9 last year, has been stuck on oil and border conflicts with its northern neighbour, Sudan. But recent developments, such as an imminent deal between the two African countries that would allow the resumption of oil exports from the young state may be all South Sudan needs to kick-start its exploration and extraction industry.

The landlocked Sudan stopped its oil production in January due to a dispute with its northern neighbour over how much it should pay to export oil to Red Sea port.

Government officials said Tuesday they have decided to break up a gigantic oil concession mainly held by Total into three blocks, granting one to the French energy company and the others to two foreign firms, reports Business Times.

Last week, the nation—believed to have important deposits of gold, copper, uranium, iron ore and other minerals— took its first step towards setting the foundations for its mining industry.

Eager to diversify its economy away from oil, which generates about 98% of the state’s revenues, South Sudan opened a mining licensing process for the area close to the border with archenemy Sudan's Blue Nile state.

Image: South Sudan’s national flag (centre) flies at UN Headquarters following its admission as the 193rd Member State. UN/E. Schneider.