Burkina Faso Plans Gold Output Increase of 32% as Prices Climb

Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Burkina Faso will increase gold production this year by 32 percent as mines that operate in the landlocked West African nation ramp up their output of the precious metal.

Mines are forecast to generate 33.7 metric tons of gold, compared with 25.6 tons in 2010, said Mabourlaye Nombre, director-general of mines and geology for Burkina Faso, which neighbors Ghana, Africa’s second-biggest gold producer, and Mali, which vies with Tanzania as the third.

The production boost comes amid an “interesting” world gold market, he said in an interview in Ouagadougou, the capital, Aug. 11. The price of gold rose to a record $1,814.95 an ounce on the same day as investors sought a haven during a decline in global equities. It traded at $1,740.75 by 11:43 a.m. in London today.

Nombre declined to say which of the six mines operating in the country plan to boost output.

Iamgold Corp.’s Essakane mine is forecast to produce as much as 360,000 ounces this year, said Gordon Stothart, executive vice president and chief operating officer, during a conference call Aug. 11. The mine produced 122,000 ounces last year, according to the Toronto-based company’s website.

George Town, Grand Cayman-based Endeavour Mining Corp. operates the Youga mine and expects production of 84,000 ounces this year, compared with 82,400 ounces in 2010, according to its website.

After winning a new five-year term in office in November that extended his rule of one of the world’s poorest countries, Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore pledged to lure investment in gold mining. The industry accounts for 7.7 percent of Burkina Faso’s gross domestic product and employs 5,000 people, said Nombre.

Burkina Faso ranks 161st out of 169 countries in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, and its GDP per capita of $517 for a population of 17.7 million people is less than half the sub-Saharan African average of $1,127, according to the World Bank.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Gongo in Ouagadougou via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.