Mauritania

Mauritania

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. 

 

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.