Ghana was Africa’s largest gold producer in 2022, generating an estimated 3.7 million ounces.
Accounting for 92% of mining export earnings, gold represents a strategic industry for the country, and as such, Ghana has been ramping up output thanks to a long-term focus on the mining sector.
From regulatory frameworks to a focus on infrastructure, emerging gold producers such as Senegal and Mauritania stand to learn a great deal from the thriving Ghanian market.
Attracting Capital through Privatization
While the mining industry was once under state ownership, significant private sector participation has become increasingly prominent largely due to the privatization of Ghana’s gold industry from as early as 1983. The move to privatize resulted in a rise in foreign direct investment as well as the participation of major multinational mining companies such as Newmont Goldcorp, Anglo Gold Ashanti and Gold Fields. Now, the country is the biggest producer in Africa and a highly attractive investment destination.
In the same manner, through privatization, Senegal and Mauritania can increase the flow of capital and grow their respective gold industries. Mauritania has already seen some success in this area, having opened its market up to international investors in the 2010s. Two gold mines are now in operation – Guelb Moghrein and Tasiast – led by Canadian corporations First Quantum Minerals and Kinross Gold. In an interview with Energy Capital & Power (ECP), Lehbib Khroumbaly, Senior Advisor for the Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Mines of Mauritania, declared that “Tasiast is a success story. It is one of Africa’s largest mines, and gold output has increased significantly.” Privatization stands to further grow the market.
Prioritizing Transparency and Regulation
Since 1986, Ghana has implemented a series of laws and policies aimed at regulating and formalizing the gold industry. These include the Small-Scale Gold Mining Law 1989 and the Minerals and Mining Act 2006. These regulations have not only streamlined processes across the sector but established official channels for gold marketing in Ghana. As Mauritania and Senegal’s gold industries grow, the implementation of adequate policies will further strengthen the countries’ attractiveness for foreign investment.
During an interview with ECP, Mariama Konte, an Internal Auditor at the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Senegal, underlined the necessity of transparency and regulation in establishing a sustainable mining industry.
“Illegal mining not only endangers the environment and local residents, but it also discourages potential investors. To combat this issue, the EITI in Kedougou, where there is a gold rush drawing many illegal miners, seeks mining licenses on a regular basis and shuts down illegal mines,” explained Konte.
Building Strong Support Services
To support the growth of Ghana’s gold industry, a strong slate of service providers has been established, companies which have not only grown the domestic but also the regional market.
The country has a competitive contracting market and extensive value chain for equipment and services, and its extensive mining expertise also benefits contractors and consultancies in other African countries in the early stages of their mining journeys. For example, shipping and logistics company OMA Group has operations in both Senegal and Mauritania.
The reputation of Ghanaian service providers, which combines international expertise with local understanding, gives them an advantage over Western contractors. For Mauritania and Senegal, building a strong network of service providers will not only reduce the reliance on foreign expertise but create abundant business opportunities for the local population.
Scaling-up Modern Infrastructure
Ghana represented the second-best-performing country in West Africa in the 2020 Africa Infrastructure Index Report, conducted by the African Development Bank (AfDB). The country has invested heavily in various infrastructure projects, including road and maritime, with the aim of growing the domestic mining industry. Recent road infrastructure projects include the Cape Coast-Kumasi Road rehabilitation initiative – Phase 2 of which is 65% – which will facilitate and improve the transportation of goods across the country. The country also hosts six major ports including Tema, the nation’s principal port, which handles 70% of the country’s trade.
Through infrastructure development, other West African countries can also grow their gold value chains. Senegal already has plans to transform Dakar Port into an integrated logistics hub by 2035 and is developing a highway project through a €166 million loan from the AfDB. Serigne Gueye Diop, First Advisor Minister to the Presidency of Senegal, stated in a conversation with ECP that, “The most competitive countries are those that provide the best infrastructure for both local and international players to successfully carry out their activities. Senegal has undergone a large infrastructure revamping to meet the community’s needs for the past ten years.”
More mining insights will be shared during a work session at the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2023 conference in Nouakchott from November 21–22. Visit www.msgbcoilgaspower.com for more information.