Addis Ababa – Ethiopian gold exports surged after the central bank offered higher prices for the metal in a bid to curb smuggling and as part of wider efforts to spur investment in mining.

Ethiopia’s gold industry is currently dominated by small-scale artisanal miners, but Newmont Corp. and Australia’s Allied Gold Corp. are among the companies exploring for the precious metal in the Horn of Africa nation.

The government hopes that cleaning up informal mining by channeling gold sales through the central bank is a first step to making the country more attractive to investors.

Harry Anagnostaras, executive chairman of London-listed Kefi Gold and Copper Plc, which is developing the Tulu Kapi mine in western Ethiopia, said  “People are starting to come in and it’s because the government is starting to transform itself very deliberately and openly from a sort of reluctant bride to a welcoming host and compliance checker.”

Official gold shipments in July and August totaled 700 kilograms (24,700 ounces), a more than fourfold increase from the year-earlier period. Exports could climb further after the central bank boosted the prices it offers by more than the increase in spot gold since the beginning of June.

Ethiopia’s approach is generating interest from miners, according to Anagnostaras, who is also chairman of a 25-member industry group in the country. The government aims to more than double the contribution of mining to 10% of gross domestic product over the next decade.

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