Mali's gold mines produce, but shares fall after coup

Reuters , Wednesday 19 Aug 2020

This video frame grab image obtained by AFP from ORTM (Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision du Mali) on August 19, 2020 shows Malian military coup leaders, who seized power in Mali and pushed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to resign, during a press conference. ( AFP)

Gold mining companies in Mali said they were operating as usual, while monitoring a deepening political crisis that hit their share prices on Wednesday.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned on Tuesday and dissolved parliament hours after soldiers detained him at gunpoint and seized power in a coup.

B2Gold, Resolute Mining , AngloGold Ashanti and Hummingbird Resources all said their mines were producing and staff were safe. Exploration firm Cora Gold said operations at its gold project continued.

But traders sold shares, taking the view political uncertainty in Mali, which is also battling a jihadist insurgency in the north of the country, is a growing risk.

Resolute Mining shares fell by more than 14%, Hummingbird dropped 8%, and AngloGold Ashanti fell 3%.

"I have always monitored how much exposure I have in West Africa and in each country in the region because there is more risk and this coup reminds you of that," a London-based gold investor said.

Gold operations in the vast, land-locked nation are located in the south and west, hundreds of kilometres from the capital Bamako where the coup took place. Many miners continued to operate during a 2012 coup.

However, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has ordered the regional closure of borders with Mali. That could complicate re-supplying the mining sector which accounted for 9.7% of Mali's GDP in 2019.

B2Gold said its Fekola mine had sufficient supplies to maintain activities through the end of the third quarter "and beyond if needed".

Mali's gold output rose to 71.1 tonnes in 2019, the government has said, and the state earned revenue of 403.6 billion CFA ($734,311,051) from gold mining companies.

Analysts said future production and investment was in doubt.

"In the longer term, there are more clouds for mining investors as this is the second coup in eight years. It will add to an already very high risk premium that people associate with Mali," Vincent Rouget, analyst at Control Risks Group said. 

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