With so many troubles in Africa’s centres of gold mining — extremist attacks in West and North Africa, perennial challenges in Central Africa and the long, slow decline of violence-ridden South Africa — it can be easy to lose sight that, at least from a technical perspective, gold mining is still a strong and productive sector on the continent.
Centamin’s Sukari gold mine in southeastern Egypt. Credit: Centamin.
While global mine production increased in 2016 by 35 tonnes to 3,255 tonnes (104.7 million oz.) according to Metals Focus Ltd. and by 14 tonnes to 3,222 tonnes (103.6 million oz.) according to GFMS — both figures being the seventh consecutive, all-time highs, in contrast to earlier predictions of a slight decline — Africa stands out as one of the top-performing regions of the world for gold mine production.
According to Metals Focus, Africa hosts five countries among the world’s top gold-producing countries, which are led by the top five of China, Australia, Russia, the U.S. and Peru, which together produced 1,417.1 tonnes (45.6 million oz.) in 2016, or 44% of the global total.
But further down the top-20 list for 2016 gold production are the African countries that are consistently strong performers, all with increasing output versus 2015: South Africa in sixth spot with 165.6 tonnes (5.3 million oz.) and a slight increase from 2015; Ghana in 11th spot with 95.6 tonnes (30.7 million oz.) and a bit of a rise from 2015; Tanzania taking the 15th slot with 55.3 tonnes (17.8 million oz.) and a 4% jump from 2015; Mali in 18th place at 50.1 tonnes (16.1 million oz.) and a 2% rise from the previous year; and Burkina Faso sliding in at 19 with 41.6 tonnes (13.4 million oz.) for a whopping 8% rise year over year — the best increase amongst all countries in the top 20.
This increase in annual gold output for the five leading African nations contrasts with others in the top 20 that saw substantial year-over-year declines, especially Indonesia, -4%, and in Latin America: Argentina, -7%; Chile, -4%; Peru, -3%; and Mexico, -2%.
GFMS has quite a different list of top-20 gold mining countries, with only four African countries making the cut: South Africa (8th), Ghana (10th), Mali (15th) and Tanzania (18th).
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