Editorial Feature

Ghana: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

Ghana is located in Western Africa and borders the Gulf of Guinea between Togo and Cote d'Ivoire. The country covers an area of 238,533 km2 and has a total population of 25,241,998 as per 2012 estimates. The country’s climate is dry along the southeast coastal region, hot and humid in the southwest, and hot and dry in the northern part.

The national flag of Ghana.
Image Credit: CIA Factbook.

The country has abundant reserves of petroleum, silver, manganese, bauxite, and gold. Its mineral industry is a major contributor to government revenues. The country's economy has been strengthened by sustained reductions in poverty levels, a competitive business environment, and sound macro-economic management.

In addition, high prices of gold in the international market have improved the country's economic growth rate during the period 2008 to 2011. The country's GDP was $75.9 billion in 2011 as compared to $66.81 billion in 2010.

Overview of Resources

Ghana has rich reserves of gold and diamond. Other mineral commodities produced in the country include silver and manganese.

Globally, Ghana is:

  • The 13th largest producer of diamond.
  • Among the top 10 producers of gold.

Ghana’s gold export accounts for nearly 41% of the country’s total exports.

Metals

In February 2010, Bosai Minerals Group Co. Ltd. of China acquired 80% of Rio Tinto Alcan Inc.’s share on Ghana Bauxite Company Ltd. (GBCL) and operated the Awaso Mine. Bauxite produced from the mine in the same year amounted to 512,000 Mt. By 2011, Bosai increased the bauxite production capacity of the mine to 1.5 million metric tons per year (Mt/yr).

In 2010, Adamus Resources Ltd. of Australia completed the development of a new gold mine in the Nzema east municipal district. The mine is expected to have an annual production capacity of 3100 kg of gold during its first five years of operation. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. of South Africa owns the Iduapriem and the Obuasi gold mines. Iduapriem mine produced 5,754 kg of gold in 2010, compared to 5,910 kg in 2009. Obuasi underground mine produced 9,860 kg of gold in 2010, compared to 11,900 kg of gold in the previous year. The Damang Mine and the Tarkwa Mine produced 7,092 and 22,861 kg of gold, respectively, in 2010.

The map of Ghana. Image Credit: CIA Factbook

Industrial Minerals

The combined cement production capacity of the Takoradi and Tema plants owned by the Ghana Cement Company Ltd. (GHACEM) was 2.4 Mt/yr in 2010. GHACEM has plans to increase the combined production capacity of the plants to 3.4 Mt/yr in 2012, which can be achieved by increasing the Tema plant's production capacity to 1 Mt/yr.

The majority of the country’s diamond is mined by small-scale and artisanal miners, who operate the Bonsa River valley and Birim River valley. The country’s only formal commercial diamond production mine is a placer mine in Akwatia.

Fossil Fuels

In December 2010, the Jubilee oil field off the coast Ghana was acquired by the Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and its joint-venture partners. The field is estimated to have a production capacity of 45,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil. Petroleum from the country is being sold in the name of Jubilee crude oil, to refineries around the world.

Investment

Although petroleum adds value to the country’s economy, gold remains as Ghana’s leading mineral export earner. A number of gold mining companies have invested in the country, which helps the government generate significant revenues from the shares and royalties. However, the country has failed to exploit small-scale mining activities owing to rampant illegal mining, which causes environmental degradation and pollution of water bodies. In an attempt to rectify this situation, the government has planned to streamline the significant operations of the small-scale miners and make them contribute to the country’s economy, according to the recent reports.

For more than a decade, Ghana has been one of the world’s most significant regions in terms of gold discoveries and production. The government also plans to construct a new oil reserve in the West African transform margin to increase the contribution of the fuel sector to the country’s economy. With the support of foreign companies like Newmont Mining Corporation, Golden Star Resources Ltd, and Red Back Mining, the country’s mining sector is likely to emerge strongly in the near future.

Disclaimer: The author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.

Sources and Further Reading

G.P. Thomas

Written by

G.P. Thomas

Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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