Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is in North West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara to the North/Northwest, Algeria to the Northeast, Mali to the east/southeast and Senegal to the southwest. Its capital is Nouakchott and is situated on the Atlantic coast.
Mauritania is a leading producer of iron ore, copper, gold, silver, oil and gas. Recent discoveries of offshore gas reserves by Kosmos have increased production forecasts. Mauritania's GDP growth is largely driven by foreign investment in the mining sector.
- About Mauritania
- Laws & Regulations
- Live Stream
- Member News
The geology of Mauritania is built on more than two billion year old Archean crystalline basement rock in the Reguibat Shield of the West African Craton. It consists of hornblende or granulite grade lithologies in the metamorphic facies sequence. Known as the Saouda Series rocks, they can include gneiss, with different endmembers enriched in garnet, as well as pyroxene amphibolite, quartzites and marble. The Saouda Series is intruded by younger basalts, anorthosite and gabbros along with serpentinite. In the Neoproterozoic, the Pan-African orogeny began to form mobile belts across Africa. The Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania began to form as a foreland basin to the surrounding mobile belts. This process continued into the Paleozoic. It is filled with two to three kilometres of clastic sedimentary rocks. The rocks are grouped into three sequences. The Hodh Supergroup was deposited in the Middle Neoproterozoic and includes sandstones and carbonates formed from stromatolites. The upper Adrar Supergroup, also Neoproterozoic in age, contains dolomite enriched in barite, basal tillite, marine chert and sandstones. The deposition of the Adrar Supergroup continued with the formation of sandstones containing brachiopod fossils, in the Cambrian and Ordovician, followed by Late Ordovician tillites, graptolite Silurian sandstones and shales, as well as Devonian shales with reef limestones. The Mauritanide Belt formed in an orogeny between 320 and 270 million years ago that is allochthonous, lying on top of the Reguibat Shield crystalline basement rocks and the sedimentary rocks of the Taoudeni Basin. The Mauritanide Belt was thrust on top of the Taoudeni Basin during the Hercynian orogeny, which also folded and fractured the edge of the basin. Mauritania is part of the Senegal Basin and its Mesozoic sedimentary sequence begins with Late Jurassic dolomite formed in a shallow marine environment. Offshore research has found Early Cretaceous detrital sediments lying atop Early Jurassic evaporites. The ocean receded in the region in the Maastrichtian near the end of the Cretaceous, followed by a large marine transgression in the early Cenozoic. The country's sedimentary rocks interfinger between continental sediments and silicate marine sediments in the west. Hydrocarbons: Hydrocarbons in the Taoudeni Basin are derived from source rocks in the Meso-Neoproterozoic Atar Group, which is composed of facies varying from stromatolite-dominated carbonates to organic-rich basinal shales. The stromatolitic carbonates are dolomitized and contain solid hydrocarbons (pyrobitumen). The pyrobitumen was formed in response to a Mesozoic hydrothermal event, with peak temperatures locally reaching 380°C, which resulted in hydraulic fracturing of the carbonates. Gas shows were recorded from these carbonates in the Abolag-1 well and suggest that they may have potential as a reservoir rock. Mining Industry: Mauritania's mineral sector was dominated by iron ore mining and beneficiation. Other mineral commodities produced in the country included cement, copper, gold, gypsum, petroleum, salt, and steel. First Quantum Minerals Ltd. of Canada produced its first copper in concentrate from the Guelb Moghrein copper-gold mine in July 2006; commercial production began in October 2006. Situated in the guelb Moghrein. the mine was expected to reach 30,000 metric tons per year of copper concentrate by the first half of 2007. Measured and indicated resources at guelb Moghrein were reported to be 23.7 Mt. Murchison united was granted five uranium exploration licenses covering an area of 6,766 square kilometers in Bin en nar and in Bir Moghrein. The company conducted ground reconnaissance work to perform detailed radiometric studies on five anomalies. Mauritania ventures Limited held two uranium exploration licenses in northern Mauritania. Alba mineral resources applied for a third exploration license in the northern part of the country and for gold and base-metal exploration licenses covering an area of about 6,000 km2 located near the uranium exploration properties. Alba also applied for an additional five copper-gold-iron oxide permits in the southern part of the country.
More than half of Mauritania's 3.89 million people earn a living from agriculture and livestock. However, domestic cereal production in this arid country only meets about one-third of the national food needs, forcing a reliance on imports, especially for sorghum, millet and wheat.
Food prices soared in 2008, and continue to be volatile. This, combined with poor rains in 2011, which slashed agricultural output by two-thirds, pushed more farmers and pastoralists into poverty and hunger.
Although cereal production has rebounded in recent years, with bumper crops registered in 2012 and 2013, food security remains shaky in parts of the country, particularly in areas where unpredictable rains in 2013 affected crops and grazing land. The presence of tens of thousands of Malian refugees, who fled violence in their own country, has further strained Mauritania's limited resources.
Laws and Regulations
The three main taxes and fees imposed on companies operating in the mining sector include unique annual royalties, dividends from state participation and contributions to the state budget, a new fee introduced in 2014. The public Treasury is the main body responsible for collecting and managing taxes paid to the central government. The national oil company, Société Mauritanienne Des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier (SMHPM), receives the state’s share of oil and the national resource fund, Fonds National de Revenus des Hydrocarbures (FNRH), manages all oil and gas revenues. To date, Mauritania has 250 active permits, with 90 operators in the region (a list of permit holders can be accessed under the Data Tab).
Contracts and Licences:
Some of the contracts are disclosed, including the Chinguetti production sharing contract. Both mining licenses and Oil and gas production sharing contracts are awarded on a ‘first come first served’ basis. However mining licenses can also be awarded through competitive international tender, as in 2014.
Mauritania's mining cadastre contains up-to-date information on model mining contracts, applications and active licences.
Further information on the Laws & Regulations on Mauritania can be downloaded under the Data Tab.
Holders of passports issued by any country can obtain a visa on arrival at Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport while citizens of Algeria, Gambia, Niger, Ivory Coast, Libya, Mali, Senegal and Tunisia can travel to Mauritania without a visa for 90 days.
However, before travelling please make sure that you comply with the following requirements:
• Passport must be valid for six months beyond exit date and contain six blank visa pages.
• Hotel booking or letter from Mauritanian host. Proof of sufficient funds to cover your trip.
Mauritania’s low primary enrolment rate remains a challenge for employment prospects. Primary completion was only 71 percent as of 2013. Net enrolment rates were as low as 55 percent as of 2014. As a result, at least one in every three Mauritanians may lack any formal education, a proportion that is higher still in rural regions. Among those enrolled in formal primary education, only 33 percent go on to pursue secondary studies, and only 5 percent continue to higher education. Primary education is the highest level attained by 61 percent of those who completed any level of formal education (i.e., who received a certificate or degree). Rural males and females are nearly twice as likely to have attended religious school as their urban counterparts (or 37 percent as compared to 18 percent, respectively, among males, with similar rates among females). Lower school enrolment rates are noticeable in rural regions such as Gorgol and Assaba, particularly among females, starting at the age of 13.
Overall, 6 percent of the labor force completed university education, which is concentrated in Nouakchott. Meanwhile, 18 percent of the labor force completed secondary school. Other cities with high shares of highly-skilled (university level) and semi-skilled (secondary level) labor force include Nouakchott, Inchiri, Tiris-Zemour, Nouadhibou, Adrar, and Trarza. Apprenticeship is a nascent sector, with limited uptake in Mauritania, representing only 0.15 percent of the labor force as of 2012. In 2010, only 5,000 students enrolled in technical and vocational schools, the equivalent of 1 percent of all NEETs. However, this is beginning to change as vocational centers in agriculture, fisheries, mining, and utilities have recently began increasing enrolment. At least three new centers have emerged since the mid-2000s in vocational trades (such as mechanics and electrics), fisheries, agriculture, and mining, which has helped encourage the employment of Mauritanians in these sectors.
The dynamics of school dropout in relation to work vary across geographical settings and incomes. Among young adults (14–34), a higher share of the rural poor is working than is in school, as compared to their urban counterparts. Among females, the share who are working among the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution is strikingly higher in rural areas than in urban areas. These data suggest that poorer females in rural areas are much more likely to drop out of school to work than in urban areas.
Historically, job creation has lagged significantly in Mauritania as more people enter the workforce. An estimated 95,000 jobs were created during 2009–2012 (the most recent three year period for which data are available), equivalent to nearly 30,000 jobs per year. Yet this flow is hardly sufficient to absorb new entrants to the labor force (up to 25,000 per year) as well as the current stock of the unemployed, estimated at 72,000 as of 2014.
Agriculture dominates half of all jobs in Mauritania, followed by services and finally commerce and trades. This share is similar to other countries in the region such as Senegal and Ghana as well as close to the lower middle-income average.
In half of Mauritania’s regions, agriculture is by far the largest employer. However, the quality of these jobs remains low, which leads to poverty and unemployment persisting in these regions. Agriculture accounts for over 50 percent of employment in seven regions and 25 percent or less in five regions. Agricultural workers comprise nearly 90 percent of the workforce in Gorgol, as compared to only 4 percent in Nouakchott.
Most jobs in Mauritania are informal, accounting for 84 percent of all employment . Wage employment, which is largely informal, accounts for 36 percent, domestic help for 6 percent, and undeclared types of employment for 4 percent. Poverty is highest in agricultural employment, followed by self-employed non-agricultural and domestic employment. Poverty is generally concentrated along Mauritania’s southern regions due to low earnings among agricultural workers, who are largely self-employed.
Labor taxes account for 23 percent of business taxes paid on average, which is relatively high by regional standards. On the one hand, Mauritania’s labor tax rate is in line with other countries in the region, such as Senegal and Mali, as well as other African countries such as Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and South Africa.
Average earnings have been increasingly modestly in Mauritania due mainly to growth in selected sectors such as agriculture and minimum wage increases. Average annual growth rate (AAGR) was 6 percent over 2008–2014. The average real monthly wage in constant 2014 terms increased by nearly 45 percent over the six-year period, going from MRO 44,900 to 65,200 (with the median wage rising from MRO 32,000 to MRO 45,000). The highest AAGR was seen in agriculture and mining, benefiting mainly youth, women, low-skilled workers with a primary education, and rural workers. This growth has been driven mainly by exports, primarily minerals, and oil and fisheries. These trends are also explained by productivity gains (such as the move from crop farming to livestock raising) and growth in mining in terms of both volume and productivity. In addition, a 20 percent increase in the minimum wage in 2011 from MRO 25,000 to MRO 30,000 per month contributed to improving earnings.
Labor Force Demographic:
Mauritania’s population is predominantly young and urban, representing both its most valuable and riskiest asset. Fully 40 percent of the population was aged below 14 as of 2014. Projections show a steady annual population growth rate of 2.5 percent as well as a persistent youth bulge for 15–24 year olds over the coming generation. Youth (15–24 year olds) were estimated to comprise 20 percent of the population in 2015 (approximately 1 million), a proportion projected to fall to 18 percent by 2050. Meanwhile, 15–34 year olds comprised 34 percent in 2015 (1.36 million), a figure projected to be 33 percent in 2050. The fertility rate remains high at 4.7 as of 2013, having decreased slightly from 5.1 in 2006. The age dependency ratio is also relatively high at 77 percent as of 2014, having decreased slightly from 81 percent in 2006. Up to 25,000 youth will enter the labor force each year on average through 2050. Overall, the total labor force participation rate (LFPR) in Mauritania stands at only 43.5 percent, lower than elsewhere in the region due mainly to low female participation. The total labor force comprised 717,000 people as of 2012, of which 36 percent were female and 64 percent were male. Male LFPR is nearly 2.2 times that of female LFPR. Female labor force participation is only 28 percent (based on data from the Mauritania Labor Force Survey for 2012), compared to 64 percent for Sub-Saharan Africa.
In line with population density, a third of Mauritania’s working-age population is found in its capital, Nouakchott, followed by the seven regions in the south. LFPR varies across regions, with Nouakchott among the highest at 45 percent. The rate is highest in Guidimagha at 51 percent and lowest in Trarza at only 24 percent. Inter-regional migration is not particularly common, with only 11 percent tending to migrate to other regions, 80 percent of whom tend to go to urban areas (primarily Nouakchott). The main reason for migration among men is to search for work, whereas for women, migration is primarily related to household moves. The average age at time of migration tends to be in the 20–26 range.