You may recall that Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki made a trip to Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

He is said to have “held extensive discussions Riyadh with Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman, and other senior Saudi officials.”

Of course – as is normal in Eritrea – nothing more was revealed and there are many issues that could have considered. But one could have been the prime gold mine that is a joint Saudi-Eritrean initiative: the Franco Mining Share Company.

The information below is from the Franco website, but it is quite revealing. What it does not explain is how Eritrea paid for its shares in the company, where any revenue will go, and how it might be spent.

One thing is highly likely, if previous Eritrean mining ventures are any guide to go by: the people of Eritrea will see few benefits in terms of improvements in their standards of living. Remember the Bisha gold mine?

Fanco Mining Share Company Is Share Company Formed Between Eritrean National Mining Corporation (Enamco) And Almutrf International Group (A Saudi Company). In May 2018, The Eritrean Government Granted An Exploration Licence To Fmsc In The Fanco Area. The Primary Target Of The Company Is To Explore And Define Economic Gold Resource And Commence Gold Production Within That License.


The Fanco, covers an area of 1,390 km2 , and is located in the western lowlands of Eritrea, in the Gash Barka Province in the sub-zones of Hykota, Tessenei, Guluj and Augaro. It is located ~220 km west of Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, and its eastern boundary is ~20 km southeast of the Town of Tesseney. Figure 1 presents the location of the project within Eritrea and indicates the project’s proximity to surrounding communities.

President Isaias glances at the Fanco stand as he walks past during an exhibition in Asmara