Output from informal gold miners in Mali almost same than local producers
Gold output from informal miners in Mali, Africa's third-largest producer of the precious metal, is about to match and even surpass commercial production due to increased demand from domestic refineries, country officials say.
According to governmental data quoted by Reuters, artisanal miners contributed a third of the 70.2 tonnes of gold Mali exported in 2015, a significant amount when considering that about a quarter of the country’s revenues come from the precious metal.
The Chamber of Mines now estimates that more than a million artisanal miners work at about 350 sites, producing between 10 and 15 tonnes of gold a year.
Government export statistics put output from artisanal mines at 23.7 tonnes in 2015. Since not all gold is declared, the real production figure could be higher.
The country’s mining sector suffered a crisis of confidence last year with a terrorist attack at a hotel that left 14 dead. Two executives from Canadian B2Gold Corp (TSX:BTO, NYSE:BTG) were staying at the Radisson Blu hotel in the Mali capital of Bamako when gunmen stormed the premises. The men were rescued and brought to safety by Malian Special Forces who entered the hotel and began kicking down doors looking for guests.
The militants took about 170 hostages and killed 19 in a mass shooting. Shortly after, jihadist group Al-Mourabitoun claimed responsibility in co-operation with al-Qaida.
Despite the risks, consultancy Verisk Maplecroft believes that the sector is becoming very more attractive once again, following a series of positive developments.
In the first quarter of the year, the West African nation upgraded its estimated reserves by a third to around 800 tonnes, which — according to the analysts — should ensure continued production for at least the next 15 years.
The firm also notes that only a handful of Mali’s 133 potentially gold-rich sites have been mapped out, and the better gold prices this year have generated new possibilities for exploration.