Following strong growth in 2019, gold production in West Africa was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, due to the temporary suspension of mines such as the Hounde in Burkina Faso and the 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, over a quarter of gold mining regions were on hold due to COVID-19 blockages , says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
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Gold production in the major markets of West Africa Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali is expected to grow by 2.7% in 2021 to 8 Moz and grow to 8.4 Moz by 2024 a 1.6% annual growth rate (CAGR).
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Much of this growth is expected to come from Ghana, where production is expected to reach 3.9 million in 2024 from the 3.6 Moz projected in 2021.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, comments: South Africa was particularly affected by the COVID-19 blockade, with operations in 35 gold mines temporarily suspended from 56 pending in the region.
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Although production in Ghana fell by 7.5% in 2020, the country experienced only a minimal impact on gold mining activities. It was among the first countries to resume operations after a 21-day mandatory blockade in major metropolitan cities announced during March 2020.
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Production in Mali fell by 5.6% in 2020, due to COVID-19 operational outages across several mines, including the closure of the Morila and Sadiola mines.
The country initially resumed business activities despite the explosion. However, in December 2020, the government imposed a 10-day deadlock, based on new COVID-19 issues.
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In contrast, production in Burkina Faso is estimated to have grown by 2.1% in 2020 to 1,941.8koz. The growth was mainly supported by higher output from the Mana Gold, Karma and Hounde mines at 36.3%, 3.1% and 6.3%, respectively.
Moreover, the launch of the Wahgnion Gold project in 2019 and the Sanbrado Gold project in 2020 contributed towards higher production in 2020. Gold production in Burkina Faso is expected to increase by a CAGR of 3.8%, supported by 460koz of capacity re of gold production.
Bajaj adds: The AngloGolds Obuasi redevelopment project will be a major boost to production in West Africa in 2021. The first phase has already been completed and the momentum of the second phase has been maintained despite the challenges of COVID-19. The project is expected to contribute up to 200,000 ounces of gold production capacity and is expected to start in 2021.
A total of 12 projects are currently underway in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali, which are expected to be operational by 2024, representing more than 1,500 cubic meters of gold production capacity. These include Bombore and Kiaka in Burkina Faso, Obuasi Phase 2 in Ghana and Kobada in Mali.
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