The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, will vote in mid-October on the approval of a USD 300 million investment in a gold mine in the Tasiast region of Mauritania. The investment decision – which is the first-ever IFC project in Mauritania – comes less than a month after President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani took over as president from his predecessor, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
According to documents disclosed on the IFC website, the mine, which is owned by Tasiast Mauritania Limited SA, a subsidiary of Kinross Gold Corporation, has undergone all of the necessary environmental and social studies for an investment to be considered. The IFC leads a consortium which includes USD 155 million of its own capital that will be complemented by a USD 145 million joint investment by Canada Export Development, the Canadian development finance institution, and two unnamed commercial banks.
The World Bank body believes the investment will spur economic development inter alia through procurement from local supply chains, as well as enhance “gender equity and youth empowerment”. Local artisanal mining and fishing communities, as well as a nearby national park have all been deemed to not be negatively impacted by the mine’s expansion, according to the IFC’s investigations.
IFC investments typically require a large number of independent studies to be carried out as a means of ensuring both positive impact and a high level of conformity with international standards. As a result, investments from the IFC frequently catalyse international private investment. This will no doubt be an early victory for the Ghazouani administration, which is trying hard to differentiate itself from the decade of rule under President Aziz. The Aziz regime was characterised by a stabilisation in terms of security and internal strife, but also by a tightening of the social and regulatory environments.
President Ghazouani, who appointed a technocratic government on 8 August, was elected on a platform of economic and social development. The international community is keen to continue its close collaboration with Mauritania, which has become a key ally in the fight against extremism in the Sahel.