Mali is a leading producer of gold (the world’s tenth-largest and Africa’s third), although prospecting for other minerals is ongoing. Artisanal mining, which accounts for about ten per cent of production has picked up in the last two years. Recent discoveries have tripled the country’s bauxite reserves. Mali has rich deposits of gold, bauxite, manganese, iron ore, limestone, phosphates and uranium. Oil and gas exploration has slowed down since 2012, although Mali has proven reserves of oil shale. Mineral deposits are primarily located around Kayes, Ansongo, Bafoulamé, Hombori, Tilemsi and western Mali. Gold production dominates Mali’s natural resource sector, with Mali being the third largest gold exporter in Africa. Gold is by far Mali’s most important export, comprising nearly 70% of total exports in 2016. The price of gold fluctuates with the world market price. The sector has experienced some difficulties as unproductive mines have been closed, and others face imminent closure. However, three new mines are expected to open this year with a capacity of 20 tons a year. Two smaller mines opened in 2015.
Gold panning contributes approximately 10% of gold exports. Over two million people, representing more than 10% of the population, depending on the mining sector for income. Total Local Production: 2014(49.8 Tons) 2015 (50 Tons) 2016 (50 Tons) Mali also has other mineral prospects as the majority of the territory remains largely unexplored and unmapped. The Ministry of Mines estimates 800 tons of gold deposits, 2 million tons of iron ore, 5,000 tons of uranium, 20 million tons of manganese, 4 million tons of lithium, and 10 million tons of limestone. As the government seeks to reduce dependency on gold and diversify the mining sector, foreign firms have a unique opportunity to support this expansion. Mali has also formalized and reformed the process of registering and delivering research and exploitation permits to mining companies.
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