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Developing the West African Gold Economy

Kian Smith Gold Refinery invites you to Gold West Africa - a high-level policy and investment round-table to develop the West African gold economy. 


The conference, from 25-26 June 2019 in Lagos will focus on strengthening the region's gold value chain, enabling relevant policies and market infrastructure for the gold ecosystem.

Why Gold West Africa?


In 2011, West Africa became the hub of African gold mining when the total production of gold from West Africa overtook South Africa’s gold production. While world gold mine production has been declining, West African gold production has been growing (Wood Mackenzie, 2011). Out of the 15 ECOWAS countries, Cape Verde, Benin and Togo are the only countries without notable gold reserves. However, Benin and Togo are notable for gold trade. All other ECOWAS countries have either significant documented gold reserves, internationally listed gold mining companies or significant footprint of artisanal gold mining.



The future of Gold is West Africa


Ghana produced 4.1 million ounces of gold in 2016 with small scale miners accounting for nearly a third of total gold production.

There is presently no internationally recognized gold 'market centre' in Africa. West Africa has a thriving underground gold economy that if regulated, could unlock the West African region as the gold market centre of Africa. Despite the mostly informal structure of the gold market, Nigeria has one of the largest economies, the largest population in Africa and is a top contender for the largest emerging market for luxury goods in Africa.  The region's first 99.99% gold refinery's opening coincides with Gold West Africa, and so the choice to host the first conference in Nigeria.

In just five years, Burkina Faso has become the fourth largest gold exporter in Africa. 

The number of artisanal mines increased from 200 in 2003 to more than 700 in 2014. In 2014, 640,800 people (about 3.6% of the country’s population) worked in the extractive sector. With only 6000 people employed by industrial mines in the country, over 90% of the gold produced in Burkina Faso is artisanal.


Mali is Africa’s third-largest gold mining country behind South Africa and Ghana, and their artisanal production contributed to a third of the 70.2 tonnes of gold it exported in 2015.

In 2016, The Chamber of Mines estimated that more than a million artisanal miners worked at about 350 sites, producing between 10 and 15 tonnes of gold each year. 2015 government export statistics from artisanal mines was 23.7 tonnes.


 A UNECA study of gold mining in Guinea Conakry reveals that the economic value of artisanal gold mining in 2016 was estimated at $300 million. 

Impressively, Mercury-free gold processing methods amongst artisanal miners are more established in Guinea than in its mining neighbours.


Cote D’Ivoire is experiencing a gold mining boom with gold production doubling between 2013 and 2015. 

While the country is sitting on vast deposits of gold ore, the recent 2014 mining code review has played a large role in bringing investments into the sector. Like the rest of West Africa, Artisanal gold mining footprints are significant, more so as a result of a long period of political instability in the window of increased international gold price. The management and impact of artisanal mining issues are significant and sensitive to the future of the gold sector of the country.  


Senegal is beginning to emerge as a gold mining destination, the majority of its gold is informally trade and exported due to the dominance of artisanal gold mining in the sector. 

The Senegalese jewelry market is significant, but their heritage of jewelry production is dying out in the face of cheap, low-tariff imports from Dubai.


Niger’s increased participation in gold mining in the region has been a fast growing attraction 

especially among artisanal miners for socio-economic reasons. Approximately 20,000 artisanal gold miners are active in the Liptako region of Niger produce an estimated 1000kg/year.  There have been significant gold rushes in several regions of Niger but the far remote locations of the discoveries and the informal channels of the business do not allow much visibility into the production volumes of the artisanal miners across the country.


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