MIDROC Gold Mine, Lege Dembi, Ethiopia

Demonstrators protested again in Oromia region in April 2018 against the government’s renewal of the license for this Saudi-owned mine jeopardizing local residents’ health. Several protestors were killed.


Gold is Ethiopia's main mineral export and has been mined there since ancient times, primarily as alluvial or free gold. MIDROC Gold, one of the subsidiary companies administered under MIDROC Technology Group, acquired the Legedembi Gold mine from the government through privatization for 172 million dollars in 1997. Since 1998 the company has been mining gold and silver from the mine, located in the Oromia Regional State, Guji zone Legedembi locality 500km South of Addis Ababa. The Legadembi Gold mine has an installed annual production capacity of four tons of gold. It was an open pit mine but MIDROC Gold has built the first underground mine in the country and conducted various exploration activities to extend the economic life of the mine.  [1]Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi owns the mine, which has been in operations for more than two decades. He was the second richest man in the Gulf and one of the Saudi billionaires and royals who were placed under house arrest in Riyadh late last year after Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman took swift measures to crackdown on corruption. In January 2018, he was transferred to a maximum-security prison. [2]

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Basic Data
NameMIDROC Gold Mine, Lege Dembi, Ethiopia
ProvinceOromia Regional State
SiteLege Dembi, Shakiso Weredas of Guji zone
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Mineral ore exploration
Mineral processing
Metal refineries
Specific CommoditiesGold
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsMIDROC Gold Mine Pvt. Ltd. Co. (MGOLD), a member of the MIDROC Technology Group, is engaged in Mining and Exploration activities in Ethiopia. The company is actively involved mining gold while being engaged in exploration to find new gold deposits.

At present, Ethiopia has a single large-scale gold mine, the Midroc Gold Mine at Lega Dembi, which is an operating open pit mine in Ethiopia.

The mine was privatised and awarded to Midroc Ethiopia in 1997. A mining license was awarded and a new company – Midroc Legadembi Gold Mine Share Company (Minroc Gold) commenced production in August 1998. Average yearly production totals 4.5 t. The Lega Dembi deposit is the largest gold producer in Ethiopia. It is situated in late-Precambrian metamorphosed sediments of the N-S trending, volcano-sedimentary Megado belt, which forms part of the late-Proterozoic Adola granite-greenstone terrane in southern Ethiopia.

Gold is exported in Doré form to a refinery in Switzerland.
Level of Investment (in USD)172,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2017
End Date2018
Company Names or State Enterprises Mohammed International Development & Research Organization Companies (MODROC) from Saudi Arabia - owner
Relevant government actors- Ministry of Mines, Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoMPNG, http://www.mom.gov.et/)

- Oromia regional state

- Oromia Environmental Protection and Forestry Bureau

- Ministry of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED)

- Oromia Environmental Protection and Forestry Bureau

- Addis Ababa University (evaluation of the environmental and health impacts after the protests)

- Ministry of National Defense Force

- Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersRed Cross (not allowed to intervene)

Local groups (called Guji Kero)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
School children also on strike
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Cut off power and water supply to the mine; blockade road to prevent people from going to work and force schools to cancel classes
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Mine tailing spills
OtherSource water and the air pollution causing humans and animals respiratory illnesses, miscarriages, birth defects and disabilities
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Deaths
OtherMercury and cyanide contamination. Respiratory illnesses, miscarriages, birth defects and disabilities
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseDeaths
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The renewed license was suspended, environmental investigation was undertaken, but there is still not clear result after the protest of April and May 2018 which was repressed (with several protestors killed and wounded, a at least twenty arrested)..
Sources and Materials

[15] (World Bank Report) Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia: Perceptions, Realities, and the Way Forward for Key Sectors
[click to view]


[8] Renewed protests in Oromia region around mining project
[click to view]

[2] Ethiopia suspends MIDROC Gold mining license after weeks of protests
[click to view]

[4] MPs raise environmental concern over Midroc Gold, et al
[click to view]

[5] Ethiopia: Massive protests in Oromia region suspend gold mining operations
[click to view]

[6] Ethiopians Protest MIDROC Gold Mining License Renewal
[click to view]

[7] Mining Firm’s License Renewal Fuels Protests in Ethiopia
[click to view]

[3] Despite success, MIDROC Gold Mine awaits license renewal
[click to view]

[9] Protesters Demand Ethiopia Cancel Billionaire's Gold License
[click to view]

[10] Protest against MIDROC gold continues in Southern Ethiopia
[click to view]

[12] Five people killed in Legadembi gold mine protest
[click to view]

[11] Ethiopia Revokes Gold Mining License Of MIDROC Gold
[click to view]

[14] Ethiopia: Ministry Tosses Midroc's License
[click to view]

[13] Ethiopia Agrees to Suspend MIDROC Gold Mining After Protests
[click to view]

[1] MIDROC Gold in hot water as crisis reaches climax
[click to view]

Media Links

Protest Against MIDROC GOLD 5/ 7/ 2018
[click to view]

Oromia-Ethiopia: Wikileaks – Govt’s Crackdown on Oromo on Behalf of MIDROC Gold During Shakiso/Guji Protests of 2009 (first posted on Finfinne Tribune and Gadaa.com on September 15, 2011).
[click to view]

Other Documents

[click to view]

affected children
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Map of Zones in Oromia, Ethiopia
[click to view]

Gold mining
[click to view]

protest against the renewal of Midroc Gold Mine's license
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEnvJustice, ICTA-UAB/source from POLLEN Oslo
Last update28/07/2018