CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Angola sees no further OPEC cuts in 2018 and Africa’s No. 2 crude exporter hopes to join the ranks of gold producers next year as it strives to diversify an economy long based on oil and diamonds, its minerals and petroleum minister said on Tuesday.
Angola, where oil wealth has failed to translate into wider prosperity, has a reputation for graft on a grand scale but President João Lourenço, who took power in September, is seeking to win credibility with international investors.
Speaking to Reuters at the annual Africa mining conference in Cape Town, minerals and oil minister Diamantino Azevedo said the southwest African country was serious about widening its commodities mix.
“We are just producing diamonds and stuff like marble and granite at the moment. We are expecting to start gold production soon, we expect to have two or three gold mines operating next year but at a small scale,” he said.
Speaking after presentations on mining opportunities in Angola, Azevedo said there were 10 exploration projects in the country focused on gold involving junior mining companies, which typically take the prospecting lead in new frontiers. He did not name them.
“We want to promote the mining sector beyond diamonds … We have had good meetings here with the major mining companies,” Azevedo said.
He said there were also exploration opportunities for iron ore and copper. Angola borders Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, Africa’s top copper producers.
Much of Angola remains unexplored, not least because the former Portuguese colony was embroiled in a civil war from its birth in 1975 until 2002.
Critics have also said the elite of the ruling MPLA party under former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos had little incentive to reduce the economy’s reliance on the opaque oil sector.
Angola is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, and it must limit output in line with OPEC’s commitment to cut output by about 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) as part of a deal with Russia and others.
“We will not go above our OPEC quotas,” Azevedo said, adding that he did not see OPEC imposing any deeper cuts this year. Angola produces just over 1.6 million BPD, providing it with over 90 percent of its export revenue.
Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Catherine Evans