Sudan and Saudi Arabia to mine the Red Sea by 2014

On Tuesday the Arab states of Sudan and Saudi Arabia unveiled plans to start mining for gold, copper, silver and other riches along the Red Sea basin between the two countries as early as 2014, reports

Sudan's mines minister, Kamal Abdel Latif, said production at a project with Saudi Arabia’s Manafa International Trade Company is underway and that the estimated reserves at the Atlantis II project are “huge” —150 tons of gold and over 1 million tons of copper.

The joint venture partner, Diamond Fields International (TSX:DFI), has however reported estimated copper reserves at less than half that amount.

The Saudi company and Vancouver-based Diamond Fields received a license in 2010 to explore the area about 115 kilometers west of Jeddah.

Last week Diamond Fields said it is scheduled to meet in December with "third parties to discuss possible financing options" for the Red Sea project.

DFI explains on its website that the deposit, first discovered in 1965,  is estimated to contain extensive mineralization of zinc, copper, silver, lead, gold and other metals. About $28 million was spent exploring the deposit in the '70s, which sampled the first 8.5 metres of sediment, indicating that the mineralization is open at depth and extends over approximately 57 square kilometres.

Sudan, which is boosting production of gold and other minerals to increase state income and foreign currency, said it expects to produce around 50 tonnes of gold this year, earning $2.5 billion. If successful, Sudan would become Africa's third largest gold miner behind South Africa and Ghana.