External trade data from Mali’s statistics agency reveals that the country’s gold exports rose 6.5% to 65.6 tonnes in 2019 compared with the previous financial year.

The Statistics agency delayed release of the data owing to the coronavirus pandemic that has grinded the Malian economy to a halt and led to refocusing of policy, and data collection measures.

South Africa and Switzerland were the main destinations for Mali’s gold exports.

The data also shows that the Malian government’s efforts to clamp down on small-scale mining in recent years looks to have paid off, as just 540 kilograms of the total gold exported came from that sector, compared to a whopping 65.1 tonnes from industrial mining operations.

Industrial gold mining operations in Mali are largely carried out by foreign companies such as Barrick Gold, Hummingbird Resources, AngloGold Ashanti and B2Gold; and the mineral is the country’s main export revenue earner. The mining sector accounted for about 10% of the West African country’s gross domestic product in 2019.

However, there are concerns that the August 18 military coup that ousted former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from power, may affect gold mining operations and lead to a decrease in the total revenues.

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