Ghana to stop handing out gold exploration permits
Africa's second-largest gold producer, Ghana, will stop issuing new gold prospecting permits for an initial 90-day period, while it works on making an inventory of unused concessions, the country’s minerals commission said Thursday.
Tony Aubynn, the commission’s head, told Reuters the audit would allow the government to free up permits that can be reallocated, but warned the three-month moratorium on new warrants could be extended if necessary.
The move could be risky for the West African nation, which has been experiencing a major and ongoing drop in gold production as of late. With the gold price dropping by an average of 28% in 2013 and not doing much better this year, many mining companies operating in the country, such as AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU), Newmont (NYSE:NEM) and Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI), have had to cut back.
Small-scale operations are also declining. But for them it's not just the price drop— a government crackdown on illegal mining has also affected production.
MINING.com has kept a close eye on illegal gold mining in Ghana. At its peak, an estimated 50,000 foreign workers, mainly Chinese, were operating unlawfully in the country. This prompted the government to create a taskforce in May last year to tackle the subject, and so avoid tension-generating issues, such as the massive deportation of almost two hundred of Chinese nationals last year.
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