INDUSTRIAL gold output from Ghana, Africa’s top producer of the precious metal, increased 6 percent in 2019 from the previous year while small-scale gold production dropped 20 percent, the Chamber of Mines said in its annual general meeting on Friday.
Industrial mines produced 2.989 million ounces of gold in 2019, up from 2.808 million ounces in 2018, according to the annual report of the Chamber, Ghana’s main mining industry association.
The drop in production from the small-scale gold sector – to 1.588 million ounces from 1.984 million ounces in 2018 – could be partly attributable to a clampdown on illegal mining, Chamber of Mines President Eric Asubonteng told a virtual AGM.
Informal gold mining, which Ghanaians call ‘galamsey’, is widespread in the country and, like elsewhere in Africa, is associated with smuggling and mercury use.
The mining sector was the second-biggest contributor to government revenue in 2019. Its fiscal contribution increased by 70 percent to $701.6 million, from $411.9 million in 2018.
Gold mining companies active in Ghana include Newmont, Gold Fields, Kinross, and AngloGold Ashanti, whose redeveloped Obuasi mine started producing in December.
Among bulk metals, manganese output increased by 18 percent and bauxite by 10 percent. Diamond production dropped by 41 percent from 57,531 carats in 2018 to 33,789 carats in 2019.
Ghana was the second-most popular destination for mining exploration investment in Africa in 2019.
While neighbouring Burkina Faso drew $132 million, Ghana saw $98.6 million invested in exploration, according to the report. Mali came third in Africa, attracting $91.9 million.
Chamber of Mines President Asubonteng said the COVID-19 pandemic was causing significant uncertainty and could trigger a reversal of investment flows into Ghana.
‘We don’t know what lies ahead,’ he added.