ABIDJAN Aug 8 Ivory Coast has granted a mining license to Occidental Gold CI, a unit of Australia's Perseus Mining Limited, for its mine in the northern Tengrela region of the West African nation, a government spokesman announced on Wednesday.
"The government has just granted a gold exploitation permit to Occidental Gold in the region of Tengrela. The company plans an investment of 88 billion CFA francs (US$165.78 million)," spokesman Bruno Kone said after a cabinet meeting.
Occidental said in December that the mine site contains about 9 million tonnes of gold ore, with 2.5 grams of gold per tonne and was expected to produce about 4 tonnes of gold per year over a six-year lifespan.
Ivory Coast has been slow to develop its potentially substantial mineral resources, focusing instead on agriculture and its world-leading cocoa sector in particular.
Record-breaking gold prices, however, are kindling interest in West African gold, and the government is keen to harness the sector's potential earning power.
Perseus' permit is the fifth to be granted for gold mining, and two more are in the pipeline, officials have said.
Randgold Resources, Australia's Newcrest Mining and Toronto-listed La Mancha Resources all have mines in production. Last week the government granted a permit to Canada's Endeavour Mining Corp.
Ivory Coast produced 12 tonnes of gold last year despite a civil war, up from seven tonnes in 2010. Last week the government forecast annual output at 25 tonnes by 2015 as new mines come on line.