Gabon's new mining code to boost investments, state share in deals
* Mining code to be effective in few days
* State through SEM will increase stake in projects
* Strong interest shown in Belinga iron ore project
By Silvia Antonioli
CAPE TOWN, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Gabon's newly approved mining code, which seeks to attract investors and increase the state's share in projects in an oft-neglected sector, will take effect in a few days, the head of state mining firm said on Tuesday.
Gabon's President Ali Bongo signed the new code into law on Jan. 30 and it will become applicable once published in the country's official journal in a few days, said Fabrice Nze-Bekale, chief executive of Societe Equatoriale de Mines (SEM).
The former OPEC member-state was once dependent on oil which represents about 60 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). However, maturing oil fields and little new discoveries has seen output fall steadily, hitting state revenues.
The government is seeking investments in Gabon's other mineral resources including iron ore, gold, manganese, diamond and timber, to diversify form crude.
Speaking on the sidelines of a mining conference in Cape Town, Nze-Bekale said Gabon hopes mining will become an important contributor to economic growth from 6 percent of GDP currently to 25 percent in the next 15-20 years. Continued...