Ghana became the continent’s leading gold producer.

Ghana, which had long been a challenger, became the largest gold producer on the African continent in 2018, overtaking South Africa, according to recent data published by the World Bank.

According to figures provided by the international financial institution, 158 tonnes left the gold mines of the aptly named « Gold Coast (Côte de l’Or) » last year; a 15% increase over 2017, compared to the 139 tonnes produced by the « rainbow » nation (-0.4%). One of the country’s three economic drivers along with oil and cocoa, Ghana’s gold sector is benefiting fully from the discoveries of new veins made in recent years - two new gold mines were brought into operation in 2017 -, with the West African sub-region (Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso…) being considered increasingly attractive by major mining operators. Moreover, Ghana’s success is due to a complete restructuring of the sector, a move up the value chain (the opening of the country’s first gold refinery is announced for mid-2019) and better control of operators: under pressure from public authorities, many foreign illegal miners, particularly from China and Russia, have had to cease their activities in recent years. <br/>

The top three African gold producers (2018).
Sources: GFMS, World Bank. For Mauritania, 90 tonnes in 2017.

On the other hand, the South African gold sector, which has long been the world leader (63% of global gold mining in 1975, compared with 4% in 2017), is in full decline, suffering from the depletion of reserves and rising production costs. According to the Mining Industries Council, three-quarters of the country’s gold mines are no longer profitable today and vein depletion is expected as early as 2033. Little consolation: South African companies (Gold Field and Anglogold in particular) continue to hold the top spot… in Ghana.