BAMAKO, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Mali's Fekola gold mine, which is believed to have the largest deposits of its kind in West Africa, is set to open in early 2017, the president of the Chamber of Mines, Abdoulaye Pona, said on Wednesday.
Mali is the third-largest gold producer in Africa behind South Africa and Ghana. It expects to produce 48.9 tonnes in 2015, up from 45.8 tonnes last year, the Ministry of Mines said.
Fekola contains reserves of an estimated 215 tonnes of gold and would produce 10 to 15 tonnes a year, said Pona who visited during a week-long tour of Mali's mines.
"The mine will create 1300 jobs, 850 of which will be permanent," Pona told Reuters.
Fekola was discovered by Papillon Resources. The company was bought by Vancouver-based company B2Gold in 2014. The Malian government has a 20 percent stake in the project, which was initially expected to open next year. (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Toni Reinhold)