Gold production in Mali is being called into question following a military coup two weeks ago. African media are reporting that many foreigners are fleeing the country.
In recent years Mali has become an important gold and cotton producer. However, the coup could undermine these achievements. In the past two weeks the stocks of gold producers' operating in the country have dropped sharply – including those of Jersey-based Randgold Resources and the South African mining giant AngloGold Ashanti. Randgold’s Loulo mine in Mali is one of the most productive gold mines in the region. Randgold CEO Mark Bristow has stated though that the military coup poses no risk to his company's production activities.
Similarly, Alan Fine – public affairs manager at AngloGold Ashanti – stated that his company's production would be unharmed, since it was hundreds of miles from Mali's capital. But these statements have not calmed stock market investors, who have kept selling AngloGold shares. Now junior explorers and gold producers in Mali have halted their activities owing to energy supply problems. Daily necessities are becoming increasingly scarce, and banking transactions have been affected. According to African media, petrol reserves in the country are dwindling. Furthermore, as specialized foreign personnel are fleeing the country, economic activity is becoming harder to sustain.
According to Bristow, the 1991 mining codex had always been respected by the country's frequently changing political forces. Hopefully the new military regime will stick to this tradition. Once again, this highlights the risks inherent to gold mining operations in unstable third world nations.