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The government’s role is to encourage exploration and incentivise companies, Gabon’s minister of industry and mines Régis Immongault told Steel First.
To incentivise companies, the new mining code, which is to be presented to parliament in June 2013, includes five-year tax breaks for companies new to operations in Gabon, on the west coast of central Africa.
Encouraging exploration of the country’s significant iron ore and other mineral riches also entails removing logistical challenges to the development of this sector.
To overcome these challenges, the government is committed to a country-wide infrastructure development programme, which will require the investment of 12,000 billion CFA ($23.6 billion) between 2012 and 2016, to be financed primarily through public-private partnerships, according to Immongault.
Improving the business environment, enhancing transparency and governance, and diversifying the economy are all issues that require further attention, Immongault told Steel First on the sidelines of the UK-Gabon Investment Forum in London at the end of November.
Laid out by President Ali Bongo Ondimba in 2009, Gabon is focusing on environmentally friendly, industrial and service-oriented developments to elevate the country to emerging market status by 2025.
Mining has an important part to play in adding value to local communities, Immongault said.
The successful exploitation of its iron ore resources could be a key factor in Gabon's bid to achieve emerging market status and reduce its reliance on oil revenues.