‘Gem & industrial minerals’ huge reserve discovered at Burji woreda’

A geological project between AMU’s University-Industry Linkage and Technology Transfer Directorate and South National, Nationalities and People’s Region has discovered a reserve of gem and industrial minerals like ruby, sapphire, chalcedony and emerald at Burji woreda in Segen People’s Zone.

This joint venture beginning from 8th May, 2017 to 25th October, 2017, was meant to undertake mineral potential assessment that ultimately stumbled upon a treasure of precious gem and industrial minerals explicitly hints at possible prospect for mining in the region.

The team having prospected 417 Sq kilometers in Burji woreda for over four months surveying field, conducting geological and geo-chemical mapping, XRF analysis, etc. found reserve of bentonite (calcium bentonite) of approximately 5.22 Million Ton (MT) and bituminous and sub-bituminous coal (inter-layered) 0.40 MT of good quality.

Such an enormous deposit of bentonite and inter-layered coal in future may trigger mining that might prove to be an advantageous enterprise for regional and national government. Bentonites are used for water-proofing, sealing, iron ore, pelletizing, drilling, mud and wet absorbents.

Furthermore, the physical characteristics and geo-chemical analysis have unraveled presence of metamorphic rocks such as biotite schist, granite and amphibole gnesis, igneous rocks and Quaternary deposits, which were found to be affected by foliation, shear, folds, faults and joints.

It has also indicated at possible potential of basalt, biotite schist and pegmatite, while basalt in Kilincho and Biasho are perfect host for ruby, sapphire, chalcedony and emerald. The XRF analysis showed deposit of alumina and silica in Burji clay; industrial minerals like bentonite and kaolin were also found.

However, the stated reserve estimation said to be an approximate due to lack of sub-surface data that needs further analysis like drilling and geo-physical techniques. Since coal seam and clay deposit found to be occurring in succession, hence, it’s recommended that a client, who will prefer to mine clay deposit as primary and coal as bi-product would be profitable proposition.

The XRF chemical elemental analysis of Burji bentonite and associated clay minerals could ascertain the presence of substantial amount of silica, alumina oxides, low iron concentration, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, manganese, phosphorous and titanium oxides.

It’s also learnt that Metasomatic processes accompanying intrusion of pegmatite bodies into the surrounding biotite schist found to be responsible for formation of Buriji emeralds. Chalcedony, a sort of quartz was found in places like Goche kebele at Biasho locality.

Granite gneiss was discovered on hillsides, road, river cuts and gully erosion, Basalt rock at the central and eastern part of the study area, while iron deposit is mainly found a few kilometers north of Soyama town. Ruby and sapphire were found in gravels of in-situ weathering of alkali basalt.

Six-member team comprised of Mr Aspiron Hangibayna, Mr Gebru Hadush, Mr Gosaye Berhanu, Mr Mickiale Giday, Mr Munir Rizwan and Mr Tamene Tadele further asked for ICP-MS and XRD analysis to identify clay and gem minerals to make study more credible.

 

(Corporate Communication Directorate)