In spite of a 6% annual increase in production in 2019, Ghana lost her number one position in gold production on the continent in the first quarter of 2020.
The country produced 700 koz of gold in the first quarter of 2019, while South Africa produced 561 koz. Irrespective of a government ban on small scale mining activities, Ghana’s Minerals Commission documented an inexplicably significant contribution from the small scale miners of gold during the period of the ban. Consequently, Ghana with a 19% lead over South Africa, became the largest gold producer in Africa.
In a twinkle of the eye, South Africa quickly regained the number one position in Q1 of 2020. The country produced 652 koz of gold in the first three months of 2020, registering a 16.2% increase in production from the same period last year. Ghana on the other hand produced 635 koz of gold in the first quarter of 2020: a 9.3% drop in gold production from the same period in 2019.
Meanwhile, in considering the top 5 mines, Ghana performed better. South Africa produced 306 koz of gold in Q1 of 2020, while the top 5 of gold mines in Ghana produced 446 koz in Q1 2020: but other mines out of the top 5 contributed significantly in South Africa more than in the case of Ghana.
Also, while gold production at Gold Fields Tarkwa mine in Ghana declined by 7% to 127 koz in Q1 2020 from 137 koz in Q1 2019, gold production at Gold Fields South Deep mine in South Africa on the other hand increased by 77%, antithetically. Newmont also contributed to the Q1 decline of 2020. Gold production by Newmont’s Ahafo and Akyem mines decreased by 26% and 11% respectively due to lower grade ore milled and dilution skin management.
In the final analysis, although gold production in Ghana has increased by 6% according to the Ghana Chamber of Mines, other significant contributing factors in favour of South Africa, such as the end of the mine employees’ strike actions, caused Sabanye’s Driefontein mine for example to register a mind blowing 1,916% q-o-q surge in gold production, and crowning South Africa back as the largest gold producer on the African continent, with a 2.6% lead for now.