Gold mining declining fast in Ghana – Africa's second largest gold producer

Africa's second-largest gold producer, Ghana, has seen a major drop in gold production.

In the third quarter of 2013, Ghana's output of the precious metal declined by 18% as weak prices forced some miners to cut production and costs, the Minerals Commission said, as reported by Bloomberg.

“This is to be expected given the current price levels of gold,” the CEO of the country's state-run mining regulator told Bloomberg. “There are implications for revenue as well as employment; companies have scaled down operations.”

In addition to cocoa, gold is one of the biggest contributors to government revenue in Ghana.

But with the gold price dropping by an average of 28% last year, many mining companies have had to cut back.

In mid-2013, Newmont Mining – a major gold producer employing about 2,500 people in Ghana – announced that it would lay off 300 employees as a result of streamlining measures.

AngloGold Ashanti announced last month that it would lay off more than 400 workers at its Obuasi mine. According to the Wall Street Journal, that would make it one of nine companies planning to lay off a total of as many as 4,000 workers in the country."

Small-scale operations are also at risk.

The BBC recently reported on the plight of Ghana's illegal gold miners, noting that many have given up. But for them it's not just the price drop – a government crackdown on illegal mining has also affected production.

"The future for us is uncertain," one miner told the BBC. "We just hope that things will get better. We haven't been to school, so this is what we rely on for a living."