Recent gold production numbers show that struggling South Africa’s gold industry is quickly declining, and West Africa’s gold mining industry, led by Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, already produces more than twice as much gold as South Africa.
Ghana is already the largest gold producer on the continent and West Africa is quickly becoming the world-class gold mining hub.
The following is the list of top five largest gold mines in West Africa prepared by Mines and Metals on the basis of corporate reports.
With 715 kozt of gold mined in 2019, Barrick’s Louo-Gounkoto operation was the largest gold producing center in West Africa, followed by Newmont’s Ahafo (643 kozt) and Gold Fields’ Tarkwa (519 kozt) mines. Fourth largest gold operation in West Africa was B2Gold’s Fekola mine (456 kozt). Newmont’s Akyem mine is closing the top five list with 422 kozt of gold mined in 2019.
Four out five mines increased their gold output in 2019, and only Tarkwa has registered insignificant 1% decline in gold output.
The detailed analysis is below.
Largest gold mines in West Africa.
1.Loulo-Gounkoto. 715 kozt.
Barrick’s Loulo-Gounkoto complex comprises two distinct mining permits, Loulo and Gounkoto, and is situated in western Mali, bordering Senegal and adjacent to the Falémé River. Société des Mines de Loulo SA (Loulo) owns the Loulo gold mine, and Société des Mines de Gounkoto (Gounkoto) owns the Gounkoto gold mine. Both Loulo and Gounkoto are owned by Barrick (80%), and the State of Mali (20%).
2.Ahafo. 643 kozt.
Newmont’s Ahafo open-pit an underground gold operation is located along the Sefwi Volcanic Belt, a northeast-southwest trending volcanic belt in Ghana. The mine is in the Ahafo region, approximately 307 Kilometers northwest from the national capital city of Accra. Commercial production at Ahafo began in 2006. Ahafo has two primary ore zones: Ahafo South and Ahafo North. Mining is currently underway at Ahafo South. In November 2018, Subika, a new underground mine which was completed on schedule and within budget, achieved commercial production, adding higher-grade, lower cost gold production at Ahafo South. Gold output at Ahafo jumped by a record 47%, from 436 kozt in 2018 to 643 kozt in 2019.
3.Tarkwa. 519 kozt.
Tarkwa is located in south-western Ghana approximately 300km by road west of Accra, the capital of Ghana. The Tarkwa gold mine is located 4km west of the town of Tarkwa with good access roads and an established infrastructure. The mine is served by a main road connecting to the port of Takoradi some 60km to the south on the Atlantic coast. Four large open pits currently exploit the stacked narrow auriferous conglomerates, similar to those mined in the Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa.
4.Fekola. 456 kozt.
The Fekola Mine is located in southwest Mali, on the border between Mali and Senegal, approximately 500 km due west of the capital city, Bamako. B2Gold acquired the world-class Fekola Gold Project through a merger with Papillon Resources Limited in October 2014. Led by core members of B2Gold’s construction team, early work activities at the Company’s fifth and largest mine began in February 2015. On September 25, 2017, the Company announced that it had completed construction of the Fekola mill and commenced ore processing, more than three months ahead of the original construction schedule and on budget. The first gold pour at the Fekola Mine took place on October 7, 2017. Within only 60 days from start-up, the mine achieved commercial production on November 30, 2017, one month ahead of the revised schedule and four months ahead of the original schedule.
5.Akyem. 422 kozt.
Akyem is an open-pit gold mine located in Birim North District in the Eastern region of Ghana. Newmont obtained the mining lease for Akyem in 2010 and began commercial production in 2013. In 2017, the Ghana Investment Promotions Center (GIPC) named Akyem the best company in Ghana for the second consecutive year. The Akyem mine operates within 10 host communities in the Birim North District of Ghana’s Eastern Region. Akyem began construction in 2011 and achieved commercial production on schedule and below budget in October 2013. The operation currently employs more than 1,900 direct employees and contractors.
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