Galamsey, the illegal mining practice is a debilitating menace that has been ravaging Ghana for years, and leaving in its trail death, destroyed and poisoned waters, environment and lives. But as the country still struggles to find a solution to the blot on its mining sector, Ghana has once again overtaken South Africa as the continent’s leading producer of gold.
In 2019, Ghana had become the largest gold producer in Africa, toppling South Africa, according to data released by the World Bank.
The data showed that Ghana exported 158 tonnes of gold in 2018, about 15 per cent increase over the previous year, and as a result went ahead of South Africa, which produced 139.3 tonnes.
A June 10, 2019, Bloomberg report also announced Ghana had overtaken South Africa to become the largest gold producer in Africa.
The report which cited figures from the Ghana Chamber of Mines and the Minerals Council of South Africa, said Ghana had produced 4.8 million ounces of gold in 2018 as opposed to South Africa’s 4.2 million ounces.
According to the report, Ghana increased its production by 12 per cent in 2018 as against its 2017 record.
The report attributed Ghana’s increased production to friendlier policies, lower-cost mines and new development projects while citing frequent strikes, high cost and geological challenges as reasons for South Africa’s declining production.
But in June 2022, it was announced that gold production in Ghana had dropped by 30 per cent in 2021 – the country’s lowest in more than 10 years, and that effectively knocked off the country from the top spot as Africa’s leading producer, sending South Africa back to the leading producer position.
In 2020 Ghana had introduced a 3 per cent withholding tax on small-scale mining – and the sector which contributes a third of the country’s gold production was hit hard. The miners started smuggling the precious mineral, reducing official gold production volumes. The miners were required to pay 3 per cent withholding tax on gold at the point of export through the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC).
Last week however, it has been announced that Ghana is back to the top, reclaiming the position as the continent’s top gold producer, surpassing South Africa.
The rise is attributed to large-scale mining companies in Ghana increasing gold production from 2.2 million ounces in 2012 to 3.08 million ounces in 2022.
The 32 per cent increase in output, by both small- and large-scale mining companies contributed to the production levels.
The factors that accounted to the production output, include the revival of mining companies, expansion of output, and government policies.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, has said the gold production landscape in Ghana has undergone significant transformation, including a remarkable increase of gold production in the small-scale sector.
He noted that the country’s overall gold output increased from 2.82 million ounces in 2021 to 3.74 million ounces in 2022.
By Emmanuel K Dogbevi
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