Africa is among the world’s largest producers of bauxite, cobalt, industrial diamond, phosphate rock, platinum-group metals, vermiculite and zirconium. African mining countries also produce around 30% of the world’s gold.
South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Mali are the leading African gold producing countries. South Africa, once the world’s largest gold producer is now the fifth largest, producing 170 tons in 2012. The continent’s largest miners include AngloGold Ashanti which produced around 3.944 million ounces in 2012 from operations in South Africa, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Namibia and Tanzania, Gold Fields which produced 2.2 million ounces and Harmony Gold which is roughly the same size.
With so much of the continent yet to be explored, the list of big gold producers is likely to change a lot over the coming decades - certainly if ASX listed Luiri Gold and African miner Rangold Resources have anything to do with it.
The Zambian mining industry has been heavily focused on copper and cobalt, contributing 3.3% of the western world’s copper as the world’s 7th largest producer. This has also seen the growrth for many associated industries such as plant hire and other mining machinery services.
In 2012, copper production surpassed the previous 1972 high at 800,000 tons and is expected reach 1,500,000 tons by 2016. Privatisation of the mining industry and more than 8 billion in investment since 2000 has seen 27,000 mining jobs turn into 74,000 jobs and the Zambian mining industry thrive.
With 80% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings coming from copper, its other mineral wealth can be easily overlooked. There are high grade zinc and lead deposits in Kabwe, iron in central and western Zambia, alluvial diamonds throughout the country and pegmatite bodies in the south of the Copperbelt and Eastern Zambia hold tourmaline, aquamarine and the high-quality, deep green emeralds the country is famous for.
Zambia also has gold, which until now has only been mined on a relatively small scale - an estimated 2 tons produced since mining started in 1902. Now, with renewed interest and foreign investment in Zambia’s gold, all that could be set to change. This increase in foreign investment will help to see auxialliary industry sectors and the demand for earth moving equipment grow.
Australian gold miner, Luiri Gold operates the Luiri Hill Gold Project, 125km west of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital which takes in the historic Dunrobin and Matala mines. With tenement area of 277km2 under a 25 year mining licence, the company is seeking to revive the two old mines and exploit the under-explored eastern extent of the Matala Dome which they believe has the potential to host both Dunrobin and Matala style gold deposits.
Dunrobin was mined from 1928 – 1941 and produced an estimated 31,593 ounces of gold over that period. Luiri Gold is expecting to produce between 13 000 ounces and 18 000 ounces of gold per annum from a new Dunrobin production facility.
One of the more recent African countries to look to resources for economic growth is Ivory Coast. In fact, many people believe that the Ivorian ground could hold more gold than Ghana, its neighbour and Africa’s largest gold producer.
The new minister for industry and mines, Jean-Claude Brou is confident “there is a future for gold mining” in Ivory Coast where, as well as promising prospects, miners have reliable, lower cost power and good infrastructure.
Rangold Resources, an African miner, has an 89% interest in the Tongon mine, one of the four gold mines in Ivory Coast. CEO Mark Bristow says “I think it [Ivory Coast] can very easily overtake Ghana without much effort.” While political instability has plagued the country for the last decade, investors are not deterred and the government has a goal of tripling gold production over the next 5 years.
Africa’s resource wealth is attracting major foreign investment and the future of the African mining industry looks promising for many years to come. Metal prices, international demand and investment as well as internal stability all impact on the gold mining industry but one thing is for certain; there is gold in them thar hills.
African Plant and Equipment is headquartered in Zambia’s second largest city Kitwe, in the centre of the Copperbelt province. We provide earth moving equipment rental solutions to mining companies and contractors throughout the African continent on varying plant hire arrangements. With a modern equipment rental fleet including Komatsu wheel loaders, Komatsu & Hitachi excavators, Caterpillar dozers, Caterpillar graders, Komatsu and Caterpillar trucks and more, we can help you maximise your output and minimise costly downtime. Contact African Plant & Equipment to discover how we can assist with your project.