Mali produced 50 tons of gold in 2015 to consolidate its position as Africa’s third-largest producer and expects to increase output this year, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said in a New Year’s speech.
Production is due to start at the Kofi Nord facility run by Canada’s Endeavour Mining; part of its Tabakoto mine west of the capital Bamako in southwestern Mali. Kofi Nord will produce an average of around 1.8 tons per year, Keita said.
The Fekola mine owned by B2Gold, which has reserves of 3.15 million ounces, will also begin production this year, he said.
“Despite the timid pick-up of the global economy, Mali has this year (2015) produced 50 tons of gold of which 46 tons are industrial production and 4 tons are artisanal,” Keita said.
The West African nation’s gold production could rise to around 60 tons a year by the end of 2017, the mining minister said. Production was 49.865 tons in 2014. The sector contributes around a quarter of the government’s revenue.
Gold accounted for some 80% of Mali’s mining activity in the mid-2000s, while there remain considerable proven reserves of other minerals not currently exploited. It has become Mali’s third-largest export, after cotton—historically the basis of Mali’s export industry—and livestock. The emergence of gold as Mali’s leading export product since 1999 has helped mitigate some of the negative impacts caused by fluctuations in world cotton markets and loss of trade from the Ivorian Civil War to the south.
Large private investments in gold mining include Anglogold-Ashanti ($250 million) in Sadiola and Yatela, and Randgold Resources ($140 million) in Morila – both multinational South African companies located respectively in the north-western and southern parts of the country.