Hydrocarbons lead Algeria’s mineral industry, and comprises of diverse metals and industrial minerals production. Commodities extracted in Algeria include gold, lead, silver, and zinc. In 2009, there were notable increases in the production of silver, by 75%; kaolin, by 73%; gold, by 54%; salt, by 34%; feldspar, by 13%; diatomite, by 11%; and cement, by 8%.
Algeria’s major mining operations include the 3 million ounce Tirek Amesmessa gold mine; the 2400 million tonne Djebel Onk phosphate mine: the 5000 million tonne Quenza and Bou Khrada iron ore mines; plus several industrial mineral mines producing salt, bentonite and barite. It is said that De Beers have shown interest in the kimberlite potential of this region. Several years ago Algeria was titled the 6th largest natural gas producer in the world, amounting to a total of 2.7% of the world’s natural gas production and 2.0% of the world’s crude oil production.
2.4% of the world’s total reserves, Algeria maintained a 4.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves and 12.2 billion barrels of crude oil reserves, which accounted for 0.9% of the world’s total reserves. All of this implies that Algeria was ranked second for the amount of crude oil production.
Commodities extracted in Algeria include iron and steel; precious metals such as gold and silver; and industrial minerals, including barite, bentonite and other clays, cement, crushed stone, gravel, gypsum, helium, limestone, marble, nitrogen fertilizer, phosphate rock, pozzolan, quartz, salt, and sand. Adding to this, the country has large deposits of unexploited minerals, including celestine, diamond, manganese, quartz crystal, rare-earth minerals, tungsten, and uranium.
The Ministry of Energy and Mining (MEM) is responsible for regulating the activities of the mining industry through its numerous agencies, 2 of which are:
- Algerian Mining Authority;
- National Agency of Geology and Mining Control; (responsible for the issuing of licenses)