Although not known as a major gold producer in Africa, Cote d’Ivoire is strategically located between two major gold producers in Africa; Ghana and Mali. This may point to the potential that the country has as a gold producer.
With the recent changes in the political systems in the country, the government has been at the forefront trying to encourage investors to tap in the largely untapped natural resources. Although the economy of the country depends largely on agriculture, most of the international gold mining companies with operations in West Africa see Cote d’Ivoire as a new frontier in exploration efforts.
The country lies on the Brimian Greenstone Belt that stretched from Ghana to Senegal and which has proved to have some of the richest gold deposits. Some believe that Cote d’Ivoire could even rival Ghana which is Africa’s second-largest gold producer. While many prospecting projects in recent years have shown good future potential for gold production, the country will have a long way to go to reach Ghana in production.
Past Gold Production in Cote d’Ivoire
The history of gold mining in Cote d’Ivoire dates back to the 1920s with the French colonizers taking part in small-scale mining in several places within the country.
In recent times, most of the country’s gold has been mined on a small scale by artisan miners, although some international companies have acquired the license to conduct commercial mining within its borders.
With the political instability that ended in 2011, much of the gold mined was not properly accounted for, as it was smuggled out of the country by politicians and some rogue gold merchants.
Commercial Mines in Production
Today the country boost of several commercial gold mines that are slowly putting the country on the map as a more significant gold producing country. The largest gold mine in Cote d’Ivoire is the Tongon gold mine which is located about 34 miles from the border with Mali. This large mine covers about one square kilometer. It is owned by Randgold Resources, through its subsidiary the Société des Mines de Tongon.
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The company began operation at the mine in 2010 and has recorded impressive results since then. It also has several other gold exploration permits, which are a pointer to the potential of gold mining in Cote d’Ivoire. Gold mining at this mine started in 2010 and is expected to end in 2021 given the fact that the mine is estimated to have a life of mine of just ten years. The mine is made up of two main pits: the south zone pit which has been mined from 2010 and is expect to close by the end of 2016 and the North zone pit in which mining commenced in 2015 and expected to close by the end of 2020.
Another important gold producer is the Angovia Mine which is owned by the Cluff Gold. The company acquired the mine in 2004 from COGEMA and began operating it in 2009. The mine is estimated to produce about 20,000oz of gold annually. It is located 40 km from the city of Yamoussoukro.
The Bonikro Gold Mine is located about 240 km Northwest of Abidjan, the capital city of Cote d’Ivoire. The mine is owned by Newcrest after it merged with Lihir Gold Limited which acquired the mine by merging with Equigold NL, which initially owned and operated the gold mine. The Boniko gold was commissioned in 2008 and produced an average of 150,000 ounces of gold annually.
Future Mining Efforts
The exploration of gold in several different places is still ongoing. Several international firms have acquired gold exploration licenses in the country in recent years, so expect additional mines to open up over the coming decades. As with many other African countries, the amount of gold that is mined and produced will be directly impacted by the future stability of the nation and the ability for international mining companies to operate with assurances that they will be able to produce gold over the coming years.