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Ivory Coast's Shiloh Manganese aims for annual output of 120,000 tonnes

ABIDJAN, June 27 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's Shiloh Manganese, a subsidiary of India's Shiloh Industries, aims to produce 120,000 tonnes of manganese a year at its new mining operation, boosting national output to at least 350,000 tonnes, a top company official told Reuters on Tuesday.

Ivory Coast is the world's top cocoa grower and is trying to develop its long-neglected mining sector as part of a bid to diversify the economy as it recovers from a decade-long political crisis.

"We have a mining permit. We are officially starting our mining operation this Wednesday in the Korhogo region," said the mine's director of administration Philippe Blekahi. Korhogo is in northern Ivory Coast.

The government said in 2014 it wanted to boost manganese production to 1 million tonnes by 2017, but weaker than expected demand from China has slowed production.

Manganese output fell to about 200,000 tonnes in 2016 from 263,178 tonnes in 2015 due to low commodities prices.

Government-owed Sodemi Lauzoua, which operates in the southeast of the country in partnership with China National Geological and Mining Corporation has slowed production while other companies have suspended operations.

Blekahi said the mine expected to spend about 15 billion CFA francs ($26 million) on mine development in the 10 years of its renewable permit and export mainly to India, China and Europe. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Susan Fenton)