Potentially major development in the gold space this week. With one of the world’s go-to producing nations apparently going through a regulatory upheaval — which could affect new projects and output.
That’s in Ghana. Where the federal government said it has suspended issuance of new mining licenses across the country.
That news was delivered at a town hall meeting Monday, by Ghana’s Vice-President Mahamadu Bawumia. Who simply noted, “We have suspended the issuance of mining licenses so that we can restructure the sector.”
VP Bawumia gave few details beyond this. But did add that the move was part of a five-year plan for mining developed by the government — with the aim to “improve the management of small scale mining to protect the environment.”
The mention of “small scale” mining is key here. With the sudden suspension of mining licenses coming after recent high-profile media campaigns in Ghana have highlighted the damage done by illegal artisanal operations around the country.
The government’s regulatory actions thus appear related to the small-scale mining problem. Leading some observers to speculate that the mining license ban might only apply to small projects — not the large-scale operations that provide the bulk of Ghana’s gold output.
But officials did not confirm whether the licensing suspension applies just to small-scale mines, or to all projects. Leaving open the possibility that new projects may be completely off the table for the time being. Related: Gold Prices Rise As Demand In This No.1 Gold Market Soars
If licensing is indeed completely suspended, it would be an important development for the global gold sector. With Ghana producing 2.9 million ounces last year — making it Africa’s second-largest supplier after South Africa, and the number 11 producing nation globally.
Vice-President Bawumia also said new rules are coming to prevent mining “around water bodies” — which could put a further dent in new projects. Watch for clarification from the government on where the licensing ban will apply, and what the timelines might be for a restart to permitting.
Here’s to stopping and starting.
By Dave Forest