AFTER strong growth in 2019, West Africa’s gold production was badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, owing to the temporary suspension of mines such as Hounde, in Burkina Faso, and Fekola, in Mali.
The pandemic had a significant impact on African operations, mainly during the early part of the second quarter of 2020, when, at one point, more than one-quarter of the region’s gold mines were on hold owing to Covid-19 lockdowns, says data and analytics company GlobalData.
Gold production in West Africa’s leading markets – Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali – is expected to increase by 2.7 percent in 2021 to eight-million ounces and is expected to grow to 8.4 million ounces by 2024 – a 1.6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
The majority of this growth is expected to originate from Ghana, where production is expected to reach 3.9 million ounces in 2024 from a forecast 3.6-million ounces in 2021.
Although production in Ghana fell by 7.5 percent in 2020, the country experienced only a minimal impact on gold mining activities. It was among the first few countries to resume operations post a 21-day mandatory lockdown across the major metropolitan cities announced during March 2020, notes the company.
Production in Mali fell by 5.6 percent in 2020, owing to the Covid-19 operational disruptions across several mines, including the closure of the Morila and Sadiola mines. The country initially continued business activities, despite the outbreak.
However, in December 2020, the government imposed a lockdown for ten days.
In contrast, production in Burkina Faso is estimated to have grown by 2.1 percent in 2020.
The growth was mainly supported by higher output from the Mana Gold, Karma and Hounde mines with 36.3 percent, 3.1 percent and 6.3 percent growth, respectively.
Moreover, the start of the Wahgnion gold project in 2019 and the Sanbrado gold project in 2020 contributed towards higher output in 2020.
Gold production in Burkina Faso is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.8 percent, supported by 460,000 of new gold production capacity.
‘AngloGold’s Obuasi redevelopment project will be a key boost to production in West Africa in 2021. The first phase has already been completed and the momentum of the second phase was maintained despite Covid-19 challenges. The project is expected to contribute up to 200,000 oz of gold production capacity and is anticipated to begin in 2021,’ says GlobalData associate project manager Vinneth Bajaj.
He notes that 12 projects are currently under development across Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali, which are expected to be operational by 2024. These include the Bombore and Kiaka projects, in Burkina Faso; Obuasi Phase 2, in Ghana; and Kobada, in Mali.