BAMAKO, March 21 (Reuters) - Mali has upgraded its estimated below-ground gold reserves by a third to 800 tonnes, enough to maintain current levels of output for the next 15 years, Mines Minister Cheickna Seydi Diawara said.
The West African nation, Africa’s third-biggest gold producer behind South Africa and Ghana, achieved gold output of 50 tonnes last year. The government is seeking to increase production to 60 tonnes in 2017.
Revenue from the precious metal account for about a quarter of the national budget.
“Mali has established a mining sector that, since 2002, produces 50 tonnes of gold per year. With resources of 800 tonnes and production at that rate, we have enough for another 15 years,” he said on state television late on Sunday.
Mali estimated its gold reserves at 600 tonnes last year.
A mines ministry official said that exploration linked to Canadian miner B2Gold Corp’s future Fekola mine and London-listed Hummingbird Resources’ Yanfolila project, among others, was behind the increase in reserves. (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Jan Harvey and David Goodman)