Ethiopia has revoked the mining licences of 63 companies due to breach of contract, the mines minister said on Tuesday without providing any names.
The mining companies breached contract rules, failed to renew their licences, or not made royalty payments, Mines Minister Takele Uma said, confirming an earlier report by state-affiliated broadcaster Fana.
Some of the companies have also been producing below standard, the ministry said, according to the report.
Uma said the list of licences and companies would be released online soon.
Reuters was unable immediately to establish which companies were involved or contact them.
Ethiopia has been seeking to bring foreign companies in to develop its mining sector. The country has deposits of minerals and metals including gold, copper, and potash – which is used to make fertilizer.
Norwegian fertilizer company Yara, London-listed exploration firm Kefi Gold and Copper, and U.S. gold miner Newmont are among the companies with projects in Ethiopia.
“We are not affected by this announcement,” Newmont spokeswoman Courtney Boone said.
Kefi Gold and Copper CEO Harry Anagnostaras-Adams said the company’s Tulu Kapi gold project is not among those whose licences were revoked.
“It doesn’t affect us,” he said by phone.
Tulu Kapi, in the country’s west, is set to start production in end-2022, with 160,000 ounces of gold a year in its first year.
(By Helen Reid and Jeff Lewis; Editing by Jon Boyle, Louise Heavens, Giles Elgood and Richard Chang)