Iote d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa producer, is seeking to develop its long underexploited mining sector to diversify its income. The country aims to increase gold production to 65 tonnes by 2025. “Our country is firmly committed […] to make the mining sector the second pillar of our growth”, declared Thomas Camara, Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Energy during a symposium on “Mining in Côte d’Ivoire” during which he announced the good results for the year 2021. It must be said that gold production has been constantly increasing over the past ten years to reach 41.8 tonnes last year. That is an increase of 7.6%.
In 2021, the contribution of the mining sector to tax revenue amounted to 140.585 billion CFA francs.
The quantities extracted are soaring
To give an idea, gold production stood at 24.4 tonnes in 2018, 32.5 tonnes in 2019 and 38.9 tonnes in 2020, according to figures from the Professional Group of Côte d’Or Miners. Ivoire (GPMCI) which manages the sector. Ivorian gold is mined in nine mines – two more are under construction – by Canadian companies, Barrick Gold and Endeavor mining, Afrique Gold and the Australian Perseus Mining.
It must be said that the country enjoys a beautiful geographical location. Côte d’Ivoire is located in the heart of the “Birmian Greenstone Belt”, a belt of mineral-rich sedimentary volcanic rocks that stretches from Senegal to Ghana, with gold deposits expected to be the largest in the world. The discovery of this potential is not recent. The country’s first gold mine was opened in 1905, according to specialists. A fairly accurate Ivorian geological map has been available since the early 1970s.
But for a long time, Côte d’Ivoire was not interested in its subsoil. Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the country’s first president and father of independence, focused mainly on agriculture, especially cocoa. A gamble that turned out to be a winner, with Côte d’Ivoire experiencing an “economic miracle” from the 1960s to the 1980s… until the collapse of brown gold prices, which plunged it into recession. The politico-military crisis of 2002-2011, marked by the partition of the territory, was economically devastating. The advent of Alassane Ouattara in May 2011 reversed this trend.
Meeting new challenges
The Mining Code was revised in 2014, more attractive, it is conducive to foreign investment, which allows the country to slowly but surely catch up with its mining delay to make this sector a pillar of its economy. The government has strengthened its policy in favor of the development of research and exploration activities. From now on, the emphasis is to be placed on the intensification of research and the industrialization of production. How? ‘Or’ What ? By accelerating reforms to improve the legislative and regulatory framework, but also the tax and customs framework. “The development policy of the mining sector, oriented towards the intensification of research and the industrialization of mining production, relates in particular to the establishment of a basic geo-scientific infrastructure, the improvement of the procedure for granting of mining titles with a view to making them more transparent and simple, the organization of small-scale mining to control the phenomenon of illicit gold panning, the promotion of private investments for the increase in added value through the in place of refining units,” explained Minister Thomas Camara during the symposium organized in Abidjan last week.
Indeed, the Ivorian mining sector, dominated by the production of manganese and gold, currently represents only 3% of the gross domestic product. It is a question, as of next year, of increasing the contribution of the Mines to 5% of the GDP then to reach 6% in 2025. Another setback, the Ivorian incentive policy has also encouraged, indirectly, the development of the clandestine gold panning.
Beyond Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa now ranks third among the richest gold-bearing areas on the planet, after Australia and Canada.