Mali forecasts gold production to drop 3 pct in 2019 — mines ministry

BAMAKO –

* Mali's industrial gold production is expected to drop around 3% to 59 tonnes in 2019, down from 60.8 tonnes last year, a mines ministry official said on Friday.

* Thiecouta Diabate, director of the ministry's evaluation cell, said gold output was predicted to decrease after two mining companies announced lower production this year.

* Diabate told Reuters B2Gold's Fekola said it expected to produce around 13 tonnes of gold, down from 14.8 tonnes in 2018.

* He said AngloGold Ashanti's joint venture Sadiola mine expects its gold output to drop by 50% to 2.6 tonnes this year, down from 4.9 in 2018.

* Mali's gold production rose 23% to 60.8 tonnes last year, mainly due to the start of production at B2Gold's Fekola and Hummingbird Resources' Komana mines.

* Diabate said Komana's output was expected to rise this year.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Louise Heavens)