Mauritania’s economy is highly dependent on the extractive sector, which accounted for 66.8% of total exports and 24.2% of GDP in 2020. The country is a leading producer of iron ore, copper, gold, silver, oil and gas. Recent discoveries of offshore gas reserves have increased production forecasts. In 2018, Mauritania and Senegal reached a final investment decision with energy companies BP and Kosmos Energy for the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim project, which is expected to generate USD 19 billion in government revenues over the next three decades.
Social conflicts have centred on mining workers’ rights, community relations and environmental impacts of extractive activities. In addition to EITI implementation, municipal councils have made efforts to improve outreach, dissemination and data collection since 2015.
Mauritania is using the EITI to support economic growth and strengthen the contribution of extractive revenues to development projects and poverty reduction. ITIE Mauritanie’s priorities include improving the systematic disclosure, accessibility and use of extractive sector data and facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue on extractive sector governance.
In 2019, the government issued a decree mandating the systematic disclosure of extractive sector data, which was drafted with the support of ITIE Mauritania. With the support of GIZ, ITIE Mauritanie subsequently established a data submission portal and “Data Warehouse”, which systematically consolidates all extractive sector data published by private companies and government. The government’s data portal also provides an overview of mining production. In 2021, Mauritania joined the EITI’s pilot project on systematic disclosure.
EITI implementation paved the way for the first audit of the sovereign petroleum fund (FNRH) and the publication of the two extractives state-owned enterprises’ (SNIM and SMHPM) audited financial statements.
Extractive sector data
Production and exports
Top paying companies
Extractive sector management
Tax and legal framework
Mauritania’s mining sector is regulated by the Law 2008-011 of the Mining Code, which was last amended in 2014, which defines the conditions for obtaining mining rights. In addition, Law n°2012-012 provides a model mining convention which serves as a reference in relations between the state and operators in the mining sector. An overhaul of all mining sector regulations is underway.
The Treasury collects and manages taxes paid to the central government. The three main taxes and fees imposed on mining companies include unique annual royalties, dividends from state participation and contributions to the state budget, a fee which was introduced in 2014.
The petroleum sector is governed by the Hydrocarbons Code, comprised of Law n°2010-033 amended by Law n°2011-044 and Law n°2015-016. Mauritania’s national oil company, Société Mauritanienne Des Hydrocarbures et de Patrimoine Minier (SMHPM), receives the state’s share of oil. The national resource fund, Fonds National de Revenus des Hydrocarbures (FNRH), manages all oil and gas revenues.
Licenses and contracts
The Ministry of Petroleum, Mines and Energy grants mining and oil licenses and manages the mining and petroleum cadastres. In 2019, the government established new mining cadastre.
The procedure for granting mining licenses is regulated by the Mining Code. While oil and gas exploration and production contracts are in principle concluded following a competitive bidding process in accordance with the Hydrocarbon Code, the current practice is to derogate from this rule and opt for direct negotiation. Due to the general nature of the Petroleum Code, most of the specific provisions governing petroleum exploration and production are included in production sharing contracts (PSCs).
Mauritania does not have a legal framework mandating the disclosure of beneficial ownership. In 2019, Mauritania conducted a study on beneficial ownership disclosure and urged mining and oil companies to disclose beneficial ownership data, however these efforts did not yield the expected results. Mauritania has started publishing some information on legal and beneficial owners through EITI Reports, however the data is not comprehensive.
Almost all extractive industry revenues flow to the Treasury and there is no legal framework for distribution revenues at the subnational level. Municipalities receive only communal taxes such as estate tax, the patente fee and synthetic tax, which account for only a small share of revenues.
In 2015, ITIE Mauritanie conducted a study on social payments made by extractive companies, which provided recommendations how such payments could be managed to contribute to local development.
ITIE Mauritanie is administered by the Mauritania Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), also known as the Comité national. The MSG is chaired by Mohamed Lemine Ahmedou, advisor to the Prime Minister. It is comprised of representatives from government, industry and civil society.
Mauritania was found to have made meaningful progress with considerable improvements in implementing the 2016 EITI Standard in October 2020, following its third Validation. Mauritania has fully addressed the four corrective actions identified in its previous Validation. The next Validation is expected to commence in January 2024.