BAMAKO, June 29 (Reuters) – Mali exported more than 16 tonnes of artisanally mined gold in the first four months of this year, the mines minister said on Thursday citing customs data, and is on track to export 50 tonnes for the year, equalling industrial output.
Mali is the third biggest gold producer in Africa behind South Africa and Ghana, and the informal mining sector has grown in recent years. The West African nation has also become an export hub for gold mined by artisanal diggers in neighbouring countries.
“This year, between January 1 and April 30, we are at more than 16 tonnes exported and recorded by customs,” Tiemoko Sangare told Reuters on the sidelines of a mining conference in the capital Bamako. “If we extrapolate for the full year, that’s 50 tonnes.
Mali enforces an annual suspension of gold panning from June to September.
It exported 67 tonnes of gold valued at $2.2 billion in 2016. Of that, 46.9 tonnes was mined by industrial producers with the remaining 20.1 tonnes considered artisanal exports.
Sangare said that from October the government would put in place offices at gold panning sites in order to improve traceability and improve tax collection on informal output.