Ethiopia’s Bentonite Trail: A Development Path?

Sample of Afar bentonite, soapy to touch - Photograph by Rodger Barnes
Sample of Afar bentonite, soapy to touch – Photograph by Rodger Barnes

By Rodger Barnes

In this guest post Rodger Barnes reports from the Afar region of Ethiopia on the mining of bentonite – an aluminum phyllo-silicate mineral used in drilling processes worldwide. Industrial minerals are often overlooked in the mining and development discourse although they clearly have a potential to make a social and economic contribution as elucidated in this article.

Rodger Barnes was engaged by the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines through the Australian Government’s Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. He is also a longstanding researcher affiliated with the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia

Try finding a bad cup of coffee in Ethiopia … this is the home of coffee and the origin of the plant Coffea Arabica nurtured by the rich volcanic soils of the Ethiopian highlands. Folklore holds Kaldi, the 9th century Abyssinian goat herder, responsible for identifying the energising effect on his flock as they nibbled the bitter berry. The power of the roasted coffee bean brought Arab traders from across the Red Sea and the rest is history. Ceremoniously indulging in the delights of ‘Bunna’ —> Read More Here


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