Ghana to Halt Gold Exploration Permits
Ghana has officially announced it will stop issuing new prospecting permits for a 90-day period. The country’s minerals commission said the 90-day stoppage will be used to work on making an inventory of unused concessions as well as auditing the government to free up permits that can be reallocated.
The West African nation, which has been experiencing a major drop in gold production of late, could be at risk of losing its gold exploration permits for good. Tony Aubynn, the commission’s head, informed Reuters the three-month moratorium on new warrants could be extended if necessary.
"There is need to clean up the system because we have realised that many companies are holding on to vast concessions granted them several years ago without undertaking any prospecting work on them," Aubynn said.
The country’s laws allow gold miners to hold their licences for up to three years, after which they are expected to apply for a mining lease. According to Aubynn, several companies had been holding land for more than a decade.
"So we are saying that when you get your licence and we see you don't do any prospecting on the land, we would have to apply the law and take it from you," he said
As the second biggest producer after South Africa, Ghana was hit hard in 2013 by a slump in global gold prices. The country produced 4.29 million ounces of gold in 2013. To make matters worse, an estimated 50,000 foreign workers were operating unlawfully in the country, prompting the government to take action and create a taskforce in May last year to control the issue.
While new exploration permits are on hold, Australia-based Azumah Resources and Canada’s AsankoGold have begun operation and expected to pour its first gold by early 2016. Newmont Mining poured its first gold last October.
"We believe that production from these three mines will not only help us to recover fully but they will also provide the needed revenues to support the country's medium-term growth potentials," Aubynn added.
According to Aubynn, Ghana should recover from the global gold downturn by 2016 when production from two new mines boosts output.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.