Nigeria, South Africa partner on artisanal gold mining

South Africa was the world's top gold producer for decades until 2007 when it was overtaken by China.

From a peak of more than 1,000 tonnes during the African nation's heyday as a gold producer in the 1960s and 1970s, production has now fallen to around 140 tonnes.

Nigeria does not even feature in the top 50 countries when it comes to the production of gold, with official figures pegged at 200 kilograms in 2006

While official figures are tiny, a 2012 report suggested an estimated 10 tonnes of gold are illegally extracted in Zamfara State of Nigeria alone using unsafe practices and employing child labour.

Nigeria's Leadership Newspaper reports the two countries are now partnering to promote the development of artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Nigeria according to Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Musa Sada.

In the capital Abuja, Sada said the ministry would procure mining machinery and expertise from South Africa with a focus on gold because of the many artisanal miners operating in the sector:

"We realised that we are wasting a lot of resources and not getting as much as we should from mining. So, we need to improve on our mining technology and commodity pricing," he said.

After a recalculation of the Nigeria's gross domestic product numbers to better reflect the West African country's vast informal sector, Nigeria leapt past South Africa in terms of the size of its economy this year.

Nigeria's nominal GDP was $510 billion in 2013, 89% larger than previously estimated and $190 billion more than South Africa's.

Nigeria's population is estimated at roughly 170 million people versus 52 million for South Africa.

Image of mosque in Abuja, Nigeria's capital by Kipp Jones