Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) has signed an agreement for a loan of $48.0m with the Republic of Sudan to partially finance the construction and equipment of a mineral reserve research complex aimed at facilitating data collection for the mining sector.

The agreement was signed by KFAED director-general Abdulwahab Al-Bader, and on behalf of the Republic of Sudan by the country’s finance minister, Bader-Aldeen Mahmoud Abass.

The government project involves the construction of about 12 specialised laboratories on a 10-hectare plot located 70km to the north of the capital, Khartoum, as well as administrative buildings and storage areas to enable the labs to securely receive visitors and stock samples.

KFAED’s contribution makes up around 64% of the funds for the project, which is expected to cost a total of $75m with the Government of Sudan directly providing the remaining finance. The loan will last for a period of 20 years, including four years a as a grace period.

Al-Bader commented the deep-rooted cooperation between KFAED and Sudan, while Abbas expressed his country’s gratitude, noting: “This loan will help Sudan’s boost the capacity of its mining sector, increase its production and make the best use of its mineral resources.”

The integrated laboratory complex will build data capacity in assessing mineral reserves in different parts of the country in order to inform the government in its decisions on the impact of mining projects on the economic and social development of the country.

The agreement marks the 26th loan extended by KFAED to Sudan, and brings the value of the country’s total withdrawals from the Kuwaiti fund up to $944m. KFAED also extended three grants to Sudan worth a total of $1.1m, a sum now also withdrawn.

The latest loan bears two percent interest annually, with a 0.5% administrative cost for the agreement.

Exports of gold in particular have recently risen to become Sudan’s biggest export, partially replacing the oil revenues that made up more than 50% of the state’s income up until the secession of South Sudan. Government figures in 2012 placed gold sales at $2.2 billion.