From the 5th to the 8th century, gold was the main exported commodity due to the demand of coinage. The export of this precious metal increased from the 7th to the 11th century, as the Mediterranean countries started to demand gold in abundance.
Encouraged by these initial commercial transactions, countries like Mali and Ghana took advantage of the situation and exploited the potential of gold as a raw metal for minting: the reason why Ghana was referred to as “The Land of Gold”.
African gold was used in Western gold coins, and it remained the principal product of export.
From 1500 onwards, African gold would power the world system of coinage. Gold has been the most important and enduring element that has shaped and determined Africa’s interactions with the rest of the world. For at least 1,500 years, gold has been the commodity determining not only the continent’s economy and history, but also Africa’s links with the world.
The total gold mine production in Africa was estimated to be 660,000 kilograms in 2017 and is expected to increase to 730,000 kilograms by 2021.
Several countries in the African continent are expected to produce gold from mining. With the estimated mine production of this precious metal in South Africa estimated to reach some 160,000 kilograms.
Largest Gold Mines in Africa
In Q1 2020, South Africa regained the crown of the largest gold producer in Africa. Barrick’s Kibali mine in DRC was the largest gold mine on the continent. Mines and Metals reviewed the state of the gold mining industry in West Africa and South Africa during Q1 2020, and it is a good time to look at the whole Africa’s landscape.
Based on quarterly reported data, in Q1 2020, gold production in Africa amounted to 3,295 koz, a 2% increase compared to Q1 2019 (3,220 koz).
In Q1 2020, South Africa‘s gold mining industry showed first signs of recovery by increasing the yellow metal’s output by 16%, from 561 koz in Q1 2019 to 652 koz in Q1 2020, and regained the crown of the largest gold producer on the continent.
Because of its own 9% production drop and 16% gold output increase in South Africa, Ghana lost its leading position and now sits second in Africa with 635 koz output in Q1 2020.
Mali is third with 435 koz of gold mined in Q1 2020. Fourth largest gold producer in Africa is Burkina Faso. Q1 2020 output of 419 koz was in-line with Q1 2019 results (415 koz).
Tanzania increased its gold output by 13% y-o-y to 267 koz in Q1 2020, thus closing the top five list.
Biggest production increase in Africa was achieved in Ivory Coast (+34%) while Ghana lost the most in gold output (-9%, or 65 koz decrease y-o-y).
9 African Countries with the Richest Gold Mines
A number of countries have this precious resource. Some countries have been mining gold for centuries, while others are just beginning to mine for this precious metal.
Some are known “power houses” in the gold mining sector, while others are just beginning their journeys as major producers. All of these countries have vast gold reserves and will produce millions of ounces in the coming years.
1. South Africa: This country has long been known to be the largest producer of gold in Africa. Its operations in gold mining began in the 1880s when gold was first discovered in Witwatersrand area in the Gauteng Province. This discovery led to a gold rush in the area; as a result many more places were discovered for gold mining.
2. Ghana: Known as Africa’s second producer of gold. It equally has a number of mines located in different places which re actively involved in gold mining.
3. Tanzania: Amazingly, this country also hosts a number of gold mines worthy taking note of, as it stands a huge potential to continue being among Africa’s leading gold producers.
4. Mali: In this country, there are basically three major mines that must be known where it concerns gold mining.
5. Burkina Faso: This country is also among the countries known to produce gold, in various locations. This is another country with vast gold bearing areas that have not been exploited to any large degree as of yet.
6. Zimbabwe: This country has been known for gold mining since the 13th century, when the local settlers could extract the mineral from hills within their catchment areas of the kingdom.
7. Guinea: This country also can’t be left out when one talks about gold mining in Africa. Although the country has few active mines, many others are still developing. Thousands of small-scale miners pan the rivers using primitive methods to recover fine gold.
8. Ethiopia: In the country of Ethiopia, not much of gold is produced. However, it is among the top ranking countries striving to increase gold production. Civil unrest over the past decades has limited serious interest by large mining companies to operate within Ethiopia. This is starting to change though, and there is great potential for serious mining in this country in the coming years.
9. Cote d’Ivoire: In this country gold production is equally not as much, but it is ranked among the leading gold producing countries in Africa. It is said that there are several areas that have not been explored yet for gold mining in this particular country, yet has the potential to produce more gold. Its proximity to Ghana makes many believe that there are likely some large gold deposits that have yet to be found.
Future of Gold Mining in Africa
The countries and mines outlined above are the top ranking and interesting where it concerns gold mining in Africa. It is such as vast continent with various investment opportunities for gold mining.
The places discussed above are just some of the gold producing regions. They are not all there is in Africa. With much effort put in place to expand explorations, there is a huge potential for gold extraction in various locations across the continent of Africa.
As of now, South Africa is ranked the highest gold producer in Africa, followed by Ghana, Tanzania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire among others.
Mining in Africa has always been a challenge in many areas because of war and poverty. For example, there are counties like Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo that are known to have rich gold deposits, but operating safely in these places has been almost impossible at certain times in the recent past.
This limits interest from international mining companies, and as a result limits the gold production in these countries. Africa has amazing potential for mining. The coming decades are going to be very exciting for serious gold miners.