Burkina Faso expects almost double its gold output this year to 22 tonnes from 11.7 tonnes last year, the West African country’s Mines Minister Abdoulaye Kader Cisse said.
Production has risen sharply from 5.5 tonnes in 2008 as new mines come on stream, and since the start of this year gold has replaced cotton as the country’s most valuable export.
“Since January 2010, gold has not only become our country’s most important export, but the outlook for the sector is also very promising,” Cisse told Reuters.
Much of 2010’s production growth will come from Iamgold’s Essakane mine, which is expected to come on stream later this year.
Some of Burkina Faso’s West African neighbours such as Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast are also trying to attract mining firms to explore for gold and develop projects.
Compared with other gold-bearing parts of the world, this region is under-exploited.
South Africa is the continent’s biggest gold producer, with output of 220 tonnes last year.
Gold prices on the spot market XAU=, which on Wednesday were around $1 150 an ounce, are close to their highest in fourth months, and well above the average over the last decade.