VENTURES AFRICA – Swiss Bullion Company and Malian enterprise PAMBC have announced plans to build Mali’s first gold refinery, in a project to cost $58 million.
Details of the project were announced on state radio, with listeners learning that the companies entered into the joint-venture in a signing ceremony on Friday; in the first step in plans to jointly fund and construct the refinery which is billed for opening in November 2013. It is expected that the operation will have a monthly output of at least 20 tonnes of gold ore.
The signing ceremony was attended by the Minister for Mines, disclosed the government; this deal signalling a momentous occasion for Mali, it being the first gold refinery for the country who thus far has had to send gold produce abroad for refining.
The refinery – to be named Kankou Moussa – will also have a strategic location in trade terms, located inside the boundaries of the Bamako-Senou International airport thus facilitating transport of the refined product.
Mali is the third-largest gold producer on the African continent, only coming behind South Africa and Ghana; producing an average of 50 tonnes of refined gold annually. Gold is one of Mali’s main export items, providing the second biggest section of Mali’s export earnings – the country’s number one export product being cotton. For a period in 2002, gold jumped to poll position in export earnings records.
Gold accounts for 80 per cent of Mali’s thriving mining industry, with gold production having increased four-fold over the past five years. There are a number of gold mines in operation in Mali, with significant foreign investment being pumped into the sector. Of note are AngloAmerican’s estimated $250 million investments into gold mining in Western Mali, while Randgold is going from strength to strength in the country, opening its fourth Malian gold mine in August of this year.