Since coming to power in May 2011, President Alassane Ouattara has made it a personal point of honour to restore transparency in the extractive industries. He has directly involved himself in management of the sector at the expense of his mines minister, Adama Toungara, and, more generally, the functioning of the mining administration. Prospecting and operating companies have been most affected as they have seen their applications for permits and rights renewals frozen. This has resulted in a negative investment climate which is pushing some discouraged operators to leave the country, as did Canadian gold producer Newmont Mining Corp recently.

"ADO" has a plethora of advisers to take care of the dossiers "sent up" from the mines ministry and thus maintain his control over the sector. The key figure among them is Philippe Serey Eiffel, coordinator of the presidential advisory corps and head of the presidential economic service. He works closely with Daouda Thiam, the natural resources adviser at the presidency. These two, along with Amadou Gon Coulibaly, secretary general at the presidency, and ADO's brother, Birahima Tene Ouattara, who is minister of presidential affairs, form a quartet on who everything in the Cote d'Ivoire mining sector depends.

One result of the all-powerful position of the head of state is that the mines minister, who is above all an oil expert, and his staff serve simply to rubber stamp decisions taken over their heads. This has not, however, prevented Adam Toungara from using his family connections, notably his brother Mamadou Latif Toungara, to build up his own contacts networks.

Unlike Toungara, ADO has been very careful to ensure that none of his family serve as intermediaries for the mining companies. As a result, the Ouattara clan have positioned themselves as messengers of the companies at the mines ministry as a means of avoiding the wrath of the president. This is flattering to Toungara but the minister is nevertheless careful not to encroach on the president's territory. He has been close to ADO for a long time and owes his appointment to him. The only exception to the rule is the president's brother, Birahima Téné Ouattara, who, as presidential affairs minister, is a veritable second prime minister who has a say on all matters, including mining questions.

Away from the presidential and ministerial power structures, the men at the helm of the private sector mining companies represent another power base, whose allegiance is partly to the former Laurent Gbagbo regime and partly to the new Ouattara regime. Finally, the war lords from the diamond-rich northern party of the country who support Guillaume Soro are still free of central administration interference.