Mali: Mining, Minerals and Fuel Resources

Topics Covered

Welcome to Mali
Overview of Resources
Metals
Industrial Minerals and Gemstones
Investment
Sources

Welcome to Mali

Mali is a landlocked country located in Western Africa. The total area of the country is 1,240,192 km2, and it has a population of 15,494,466 as of July 2012. The country’s climate varies from subtropical to arid.

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

Political instability and militant activities in many regions has had an adverse effect on Mali’s economy. The government was toppled by a military coup in the beginning of this year. However, democratic rule was once again established due to pressure from the international community.

The nation relies greatly on gold mining for revenue. This revenue, however, fluctuates according to the rise and fall of international gold price. As it is considered as one of the poorest countries in the world, the Mali government cooperated with the IMF in 2011 to complete the IMF extended credit facility program so as to enhance economic growth, diversify the economy, and attract foreign investment. Mali’s GDP in 2011 was recorded at $18.1 billion.

Mali is now working at developing its iron ore mining industries so as to divert foreign investment from gold to this sector. The natural resources of Mali are abundant consisting of gold, uranium, phosphates, limestone, kaolin, salt, gypsum, and granite.

Overview of Resources

Other than gold, no other mineral commodity was produced in huge quantities in 2010. However, semiprecious stones such as epidote, garnet, amethyst, prehnite, and quartz were also produced. Diamond was found in small quantities while mining for gold.

Mali also has several other unexploited natural resources such as iron ore, lead, copper, nickel, manganese, bauxite, rutile, silver, talc, titanium, niobium, palladium, lithium, thorium, chromium, zirconium, marble, tungsten, and tin.

The map of Mali. Image Credit: CIA Factbook

Metals

Gold mining plays a dominant role in Mali’s mining sector. The country is flooded with several global mining companies conducting exploration or mining activities. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. of South Africa
  • Resolute Mining Ltd. of Australia
  • IAMGOLD Corp. of Canada
  • African Gold Group Inc. of Canada
  • Avion Gold Corp. of Canada
  • Axmin Inc. of Canada
  • Rockgate Capital Corp. of Canada
  • Avnel Gold Mining Ltd. of UK
  • Cluff Gold plc of UK
  • Randgold Resources Ltd. of UK.

Gold production is handled by both artisanal miners and industrial-level miners. Majority of the gold produced by artisanal miners was procured from the Kenieba Valley while the gold mining industry operated the Morila, the Sadiola Hill, the Tabakoto, the Kalana, the Loulo, the Syama, and the Yatela mines.

Despite the presence of all these foreign companies, in 2010, gold production reduced by 14% to 36,344 kg from 42,364 kg in the previous year.

Mali’s gold production statistics for 2010 compared to that in 2009 is provided below:

  • Kalana underground gold mine production decreased by 36% to 334 kg from 519 kg in 2009
  • Loulo Mine production decreased by 10% to 9,845 kg from 10,936 kg.
  • Morila Mine production decreased by 30% to 7,422 kg from 10,637 kg
  • Syama open pit mine production increased by 215% to 2,425 kg from 770 kg
  • Tabakoto Mine production increased by 72% to 2,726 kg from 1,586 kg
  • Yatela open pit mine production decreased by about 32% to 4,666 kg from 6,905 kg

Industrial Minerals and Gemstones

Phosphate deposits northeast of Bourem were mined by Sept SA. The deposits were estimated to be about 11.8 Mt.

Rare earth mineral reserves can be found west of Tessalit.

Investment

Randgold Resources conducts the most number of exploration and mining activities in Mali. Almost 70% of the company’s gold production is from Mali. Randgold expects to produce 600,000 ounces of gold this year. The company claimed that the military coup earlier this year had not affected its functions.

Mali will have to improve its government policies and reforms such that the revenue from the mining sector will aid in improving the economic situation of the country.

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

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ml.html

http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/country/2010/myb3-2010-ml-ng.pdf

http://www.bgs.ac.uk/mali/english/mining_districts.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/mar/22/mining-group-randgold-mali-coup

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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