Aug 12 (Reuters) - Several companies producing or exploring for oil, gas, gold or other resources in Mauritania have said their operations were unaffected by a coup that overthrew President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi on Aug. 6.
Below are details of natural resources projects in the northwest African Islamic state. For story click [ID:nLB5158]
Mauritania began producing crude oil in February 2006, forecasting output of 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the offshore Chinguetti field first opened by Australia’s Woodside (WPL.AX) and now operated by Malaysia’s Petronas [PETR.UL].
Difficulties extracting oil have resulted in Chinguetti’s output falling below 15,000 bpd, but other firms are prospecting in the country.
French oil major Total (TOTF.PA) sold a 20 percent stake in its Taoudenni permit to Qatar Petroleum International in April this year, a month after selling another 20 percent to Algerian oil and gas grup Sonatrach in March. Total is also the operator.
London-listed Tullow Oil (TLW.L) holds interests in eight blocks offshore Mauritania. Since 2000, over 30 exploration, appraisal and development wells have been drilled.
In June, RWE Dea, the upstream arm of German utility group RWE (RWEG.DE) bought a 30 percent interest from operator Repsol YPF (REP.MC) in onshore blocks in the Taoudeni Basin, which is expected to contain a high potential for gas.
Iron ore miner Societe Nationale Industrielle et Miniere (SNIM), 78-percent owned by the state, produced 11.8 million tonnes of ore in 2007 and posted record sales of $557 million, thanks in large part to strong Chinese demand.
ArcelorMittal ISPA.AS, the world’s largest steel maker, signed a deal in January with SNIM to develop the El Agareb iron ore mining project.
Separately, Qatari state-owned Industries Qatar (IQCD.QA) paid $375 million last November to take a 49.9 percent stake in the al-Qalb al-Og project (sometimes transcribed from Arabic as Guelb El Aouj) in northern Mauritania, due to begin production in 2010. It is developing the project with SNIM and Australian-listed Sphere Investments SPH.AX.
Tazadit 1, a third SNIM joint venture, with China’s state-owned Minmetals, expects production of 2.5 million tonnes by 2010.
First Quantum (FM.TO) - forecast 2008 production of 33,000 tonnes of copper from its Guelb Moghrein mine, up 14.8 percent on 2007. The mine also produces gold.
Red Back Mining RBI.TO operates the Tasiast gold mine, which it expects to produce 110,000 oz in 2008, at operating costs or around $370/oz.
Other firms are prospecting for gold, including Shield Mining SHX.AX.
Alba Mineral Resources (ALBA.L) has said it had found deposits of uranium on a prospecting concession. Shield Mining also holds uranium licences.
Murchison MUR.AX, has several uranium licences.
Rio Tinto (RIO.L) is exploring for diamonds. (Compiled by Daniel Magnowski and Alistair Thomson)