A recent article, appeared on http://italian.irib.ir/notizie/mondo/item/115519-stati-uniti-panetta-dichiara-guerra-al-mali,-in-africa-la-prossima-tappa-della-lotta-al-terrorismo
reported of alleged experts declaring that in the North of the country there are rich golden mines that are the main reason for “western powers” to wage a war in the country.
These facts may be semplicistic and imprecise, if not misleading. As a matter of fact, the mines are well in governamental hands as they are located in the south-western part of the country http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/country/2010/myb3-2010-ml-ng.pdf in Kayes Region (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kayes_Region). Bambouk mountains ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A9ni%C3%A9ba_Cercle ), Kenieba Valley are some very well known historical mining areas. (Some geological information may be found also at: http://www.avnelgold.com/?page_id=979 )
Some gold miners were recently looking for new investors (see http://kalana-gold-mali.blogspot.it/ ). Further, effective ownership of some of the mines is reported at http://www.randgoldresources.com/randgold/content/en/randgold/group-companies-2012, some others like the Kalana Mine, permit were historically owned by a Malian State company (Sogemork) with exploration and mine construction supported by Russian financial and technical aid.
Most likely, the author was refering to the Taoudeni Basin in Northern Mali   which represents a potential oil although at present there are no oil/gas reserves, infrastructure and, legislative framework. http://www.earthbyte.org/Resources/ICONS/AFR/TaoudeniBasin/AFR.TaoudeniBasin.html
All in all, Mali has a relatively well formulated mining code which has led to foreign investment in the mining industry. ( http://www.mining-mali.com/mali-info/ ) although a bigger share of revenues from mining should return to local communities.
The major concern is represented by the destabilising effects of criminal and transnational terrorist organisations, even African Union wants to prevent the Malian crisis from destabilizing the entire region; this could mean direct military intervention to oust the Islamists backed by the UN in New York where Russia and China apparently are not eager to veto the resolution.
Further information on Mali mining sector may be found at: http://www.mbendi.com/indy/ming/af/ml/p0005.htm#5 and at

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    Anthony Brown


    November 2012
    October 2012


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