Global gold production reached approximately 3,000 tons in 2021, with Africa accounting for nearly a quarter with total gold mine production in the continent amounting to 680.3 tons that year.
Swiftly becoming one of the largest gold producing regions in the world – the second largest after China – West Africa in recent years has become home to three of the top five gold producing countries on the African continent.
Following a disruptive year in 2020 that saw gold prices skyrocket, Africa has begun to meet its expansive potential following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic by ascribing more relevance to prospective jurisdictions, such as West Africa, throughout the continent.
As such, a number of African countries are beginning to increase gold exploration and production, with five countries enjoying the position as the biggest producers in Africa in 2022.
Ghana: 117.6 tons
Currently, the leading African gold producing country and sixth in the world is Ghana, with the country’s gold production amounting to a total of 117.6 tons in 2021. Comprising roughly 90% of the West African country’s total mineral exports and 49% of its total export value, Ghana is considered one of the most prolific regions of gold discoveries in the world, with its Bibiani Shear Zone hosting multi-million-ounce gold deposits.
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South Africa: 100 tons
Accounting for 4.2% of global gold production, South Africa’s gold production was reported at 100 tons in December 2021. Despite dwindling production in recent years, causing the country to lose its top spot to China in 2006, the southern African country is home to a total of 86 gold mines, including the world’s largest gold resource: the Witwatersrand Basin. The country is also home to the Mponeng Gold Mine, the deepest in the world, as well as the South Deep Gold Mine, the largest in terms of reserves. Despite the country’s diminishing production, South Africa is still estimated to hold 6,000 tons of gold, the second largest reserve-base in the world, with new exploration campaigns having recently been launched to increase production even further.
Sudan: 93 tons
While the majority of Sudan’s mineral reserves remain underdeveloped, mining in the East African country contributes approximately 4% to its GDP, with gold serving as the primary driver. Gold in the country is found primarily within the Eriab region of the Nuba Mountains, and through the quartz vein formation in the Obaidiya, Blue Nile and North Kurdufan regions, with Sudan’s notable gold mines including the Hassai Gold Mine and the Block 14 open pit mine project, situated in the Red Sea Hills desert and Nubian Desert, respectively.
Mali: 63.4 tons
Accounting for 80% of the country’s total exports in 2021, gold represents the country’s most important export, accounting for nearly 10% of its GDP. The country’s is home to approximately 350 artisanal gold mining sites, with more than two million people – over 10% of the country’s population – dependent on the mining sector as a primary source of income.
Burkina Faso: 45 tons
Possessing one of the most dynamic mining sectors in the region, with major resources including copper, zinc, limestone, manganese and phosphate, Burkina Faso’s gold mining industry has grown steadily over the last decade. A primary source of income for a large portion of the country’s population, Burkina Faso’s approximately 440 gold mining sites have resulted in the employment of over 430,000 people. The country’s largest gold mines include the Kalsaka, Youga, Karma, Mana, Yaramoko, Taparko-Boroum, Essakane and Inata Gold Mines.