Guyana hopes to start exporting manganese ore for the first time in 50 years following the discovery of the mineral in the country's northwest, government officials said Saturday.

Canadian mining company Reunion Manganese said it expects to produce and export manganese ore in early 2014 after discovering what it said were significant deposits near the border with Venezuela.

The company is a subsidiary of Reunion Gold Corporation, which was awarded licenses by Guyana in 2010 to explore its northwest region.

Subsidiaries of Union Carbide Corporation, a subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, last mined Guyana for manganese ore during the British colonial era, according to Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud.

A drop in global prices caused the industry to collapse, and investors abandoned the jungle town of Matthews Ridge, he said.

Persaud said he believes robust global prices will lead to a resurgence in the industry and help revive the rundown town of about 2,000 people, the majority of them indigenous.

Manganese is essential to steel, iron and aluminum production and is the fourth most used metal in the world, according to Reunion Gold.