Algiers has invited international mining firms to express interest in up to 54 new mineral exploration and mine operation licences, which it plans to auction off in an April bid round.

The Algerian Ministry of Mines and Minerals sent out invitations to bid on the licences to international mining firms on 18 April, opening a data room outlining the acreage on offer at its Algiers headquarters at the same time.

It has given companies until 14 April to buy the necessary bid documents for the deals, and will hold a public auction on 15 April.

The ministry is offering two kinds of licences in the bid round, which will cover either mine operation or the exploration of new areas for mining prospects.

It will offer operating licences at 19 new mines, which will produce aggregate, clay and tuff , while asking firms to bid on a further 35 deals to explore for aggregates, marble and other decorative stones, clay, gypsum, barite, celestine, salt and sand.

Legislation permitting private investment in the mining sector was only introduced in Algeria in 2001, following 35 years of state control of the industry. Although the principal focus of the industry has been on mining for metals such as zinc, Algiers is keen to exploit other natural resources to the fullest possible level.