JUBA, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan has signed a mineral exploration agreement with two American and Canadian mining and metal refining companies.
The pact was signed by South Sudan's mining minister Gabriel Thokuj Deng and executives of U.S.-based mining firm REE-Magnesium and Canada's CVMR Inc at the South Sudan embassy in Washington on Sept 12, the firms said in a joint statement Monday.
The agreement would allow the mining companies to conduct satellite imaging to map out mineral resources in the conflict-torn east African country.
"Today is a great day to begin real cooperation between South Sudan, U.S. and Canada to unlock the mineral wealth of my country. It has been quite a long time that South Sudan has been waiting for this day," said Deng.
The exploration pact also seeks to allow the South Sudanese government to tap into its mineral resources of petroleum, iron, copper, chromium, nickel, cobalt, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver, and gold, among others.
The signing came after top executives of CVMR and REE-Magnesium last month met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in Juba where they discussed ways of developing the country's mineral sector.
Conflict-torn South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa, estimated at 3.5 billion barrels and much of the reserves being unexplored. The country is also rich in wildlife and forest resources.