What Are The Major Natural Resources Of The Ivory Coast?

Ivory Coast has significant natural resources.
Ivory Coast has significant natural resources.

Ivory Coast is a sovereign state in West Africa, which covers an area of 124,504 square miles. The country's income per capita can be described as relatively high standing at $1,662 as of 2017. Ivory Coast is a major gateway of most landlocked countries in West Africa. The country ranks the number one globally as the exporter of cocoa beans. It is the 4th largest exporter of goods in sub-Saharan Africa. The county relies on its natural resources, including oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds, and more.

Natural Resources

Oil And Gas In The Ivory Coast

About 86% of the country’s gas and oil reserves are found in areas bordering the Atlantic Ocean while 7% are located in offshore wells. Oil was first discovered offshore in 1977 with production commencing in 1980. The country has considerable oil reserves making it a potential oil-exporting giant. By the year 2004, the nation was producing an estimated 35,541 barrels of oil per day. The nation has also discovered offshore oil wells, and production is ongoing at these wells that might potentially push the country's proven oil reserves to higher estimates. The Espoir field, for example, began production in the year 2002 and is deemed to have up to 92 million barrels of oil. It also has gas reserves of up to 180 billion cubic feet. The adjacent Block CI-40 has recoverable oil reserves of up to 200 million barrels, while Block CI-112 which is found off the western coast of the nation is deemed to have 2.7 billion barrels of reserve oil.

Natural gas was discovered in the 1980s but was not fully tapped. The country produced an estimated 46 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2003 to meet external and domestic consumption, and the sector witnessed further development in 2005. Currently, the county is estimated to have 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. The nation’s gas and oil sector is managed by Petroci which was established in 1975.


The nation relies on thermal and hydropower generation facilities to produce electricity. Thermal facilities produce the bulk of the nation's energy. About 38% of the nation’s electricity is produced through hydroelectric means. The hydroelectric facilities only use 63% of their electricity generation capacity. A significant amount of electricity produced in the nation is exported to neighboring nations such as Mali, Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Benin. In 2002, the nation exported an estimated 1.6 TWh of electricity to its neighbors while the nation’s domestic consumption stood at 3.109 Twh. The government-owned Compagnie Ivoirienne d'Electriciti manages virtually all aspects of generation and distribution of electricity in the country.


Ivory Coast lies on the Brimian Greenstone belt, a rock formation that is estimated to be 2 billion years old. The Brimian Greenstone Belt stretches from Senegal to Ghana and is considered to have some of the richest gold deposits in the world. The “greenstone” belt was formed as a result of metamorphic processes and has large deposits of valuable minerals. Experts indicate that there could be more gold in Ivory Coast compared to Ghana which is currently Africa’s largest exporter of the precious metals after South Africa. The Tongon gold mine is the largest in the country and is located about 34 miles from the nation's border with Mali. The mine employed thousands of locals and produced an estimated 7.5 tonnes of gold annually. The Yoaoure mine which is found near the nation's city of Yamoussoukro has an estimated 200 tonnes of gold. The exploitation of gold resources in the country has been occasioned by a boom owing to improved political stability, electricity grid network, functional, and low-cost power. Production of gold almost doubled between 2013 and 2015 jumping from the previous 13 tonnes of gold to 23.5 tonnes. The nation aims to produce 30 tonnes of gold by 2020.


Diamond mining is concentrated to the north of the country in the towns of Seguela in the region of Worodougou and Tortiya in the region of Vallee du Bandama. Diamonds were first discovered in 1928 and exploitation began in the 1940s by SAREMCI, a French company. At the time mining was mainly centered on the region around Tortiya. The company at its height produced up to 175,000 carats of diamonds before winding up operations in 1975. Mining around Sequela began in 1955 before the independence of the nation in 1960. Production at the time peaked to around 25,000 carats. The United Nations banned the importation of rough diamonds from the nation after it was found that diamonds were used to fund the civil war. Following the ban, an estimated 50,000 carats were still smuggled out of the country. Following the lifting of the ban, the nation legally exports about 20,000 carats of diamonds employing thousands of locals.

Iron Ore

Ivory Coast has recently come to the limelight over significant amounts of iron ore deposits in the country. Iron ore deposits in Mt Klahoyo were prospected and were discovered in 1927. The deposit is considered to have significant deposits and is commercially viable. Other significant iron ore deposits are found in the Mount Nimba deposit which stretches from Ivory Coast into Liberia. The deposit is estimated to hold about 6 billion tonnes of high-grade iron ore. The massive iron ore deposits have attracted interest from various foreign investors including Tata steel.


Ivory Coast is estimated to have a cement production capacity of up to 10 Mt/yr. Strong domestic and international demand has led to increased interest in cement production by various international investors.


Ivory Coast has significant quantities of nickel which are found in various sites including the Bounta deposit located about 5.59 miles from the Samapleu project.

Prospects of the Ivorian Economy

Although Ivory Coast has experienced political instability in the past, the country currently has one of the fastest growing economies. According to the IMF, the country had the highest growth rate of 8.5% in 2016 in contrast to another sub-Saharan African countries which averaged about 3%. Despite the tremendous growth, the World Bank estimates that about half of the population lives below the poverty line. The IMF forecasts that the country’s GDP will grow by about 7.4% between 2017 and 2020.


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