ABIDJAN, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s mining sector turnover rose by 11.5 percent in 2017, an increase achieved mainly via exports of gold, manganese and nickel, the government spokesman said on Wednesday. “The mining sector announced a sales revenue of 539 million CFA francs ($1.02 million) in 2017, compared to 483 million in 2016,” Government Spokesman Bruno Nabagne Kone said after a cabinet meeting. Manganese output increased by a whopping 146 percent, reaching 510,000 tonnes in 2017. Gold output rose to 25.395 tonnes in 2017, 2.15 percent higher than in 2016. Nickel production, which started in 2017, was at 379,766 tonnes. Kone added that in 2017, Ivory Coast exported five shipments of diamonds worth 11,156 carats in total, earning $2.1 million. Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is seeking to develop its long-neglected mining sector to diversify its sources of revenue. Diamond activity resumed in April 2014, after the lifting of an international ban that had been in place because of wars and crises that divided the country between 2002-2011. “Our country’s mining sector has a lot of potential. In a few years Ivory Coast will figure amongst the most important mineral producers on the continent,” said Kone. Australia’s Perseus Mining Limited is set to open its Sissingue gold mine in the north of the country in the first quarter of 2018, Kone said. He reaffirmed that around 200 billion CFA francs would be invested in the country’s Ity gold mine to boost its performance and hit a potential of 50 tonnes. Other projects are underway in bauxite mining, nickel and iron, Kone added. ($1 = 528.8800 CFA francs)

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