In the underexplored and booming gold-mining areas of West Africa, Canadian miners are moving fast to expand their operations.
Mining firms large and small are exporting the expertise gained in their home market to Francophone West African countries where governments are keen to boost their revenue. Canada is home to gold giants like Barrick Gold, as well as minnows that are far from being household names.
“West Africa has more potential than any other region in the world. Its geology is similar to that of northern Ontario, Quebec or Western Australia – exceptionally prolific belts,” says Richard Young, head of the Canadian mining group Teranga Gold Corporation, which is active in Senegal and Burkina Faso.
The region is the third-richest gold-bearing zone in the world, after Australia and Canada. The Covid-19 pandemic has helped boost the gold price, as many investors sought safe havens for their money. The price briefly broke the $2,000/oz barrier in August 2020, before returning to the high $1,800s in November.
Three countries in the region are now among the top five African gold producers, starting with Ghana, which has become the continent’s largest producer with 142tn mined in 2019. This puts it ahead of South Africa (118tn), Sudan (76tn), Mali (61tn, with 15 industrial mines in operation) and Burkina Faso (51tn, 14 mines).
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