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UPDATE 1-Mali gold output surges in 2012 despite turmoil

Thu 28th February, 2013 12:31pm

By Tiemoko Diallo

BAMAKO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Gold ore production in Mali jumped 15 percent in 2012 to 50.272 tonnes, from 43.5 in 2011, as miners followed through with expansion plans despite a political crisis and a war, the government said on Thursday.

Output from Mali's southern gold mines is expected to expand further to 57 tonnes this year, said Djibouroula Togola, the technical advisor in charge of production at the West African nation's Mines Ministry.

"Despite the crisis, we exceeded our forecasts in 2012. The industrial mines produced 46.272 tonnes and the artisanal miners produced four tonnes, bringing total output to 50.272 tonnes," he told Reuters.

"In 2013, we expect industrial production of 53 tonnes and artisanal production of four tonnes. So the forecast for 2013 is around 57 tonnes," he said.

The increase comes despite turmoil in the country - Africa's No. 3 gold producer behind South Africa and Ghana - which suffered a coup in March and where French and regional troops are helping the army combat Islamist rebels in the north.

All of the country's gold production is in the south.

Gold companies with mines in Mali - including Randgold Resources RRS.L , AngloGold Ashanti ANGJ.J and Avion Gold

AVRV.F - have been publicly playing down the risks of the crisis to production and shipping. ID:nL6E8F45FB

Togola said the construction of a new mine by Canadian miner

Robex Resources RBX.V , expected to produce two tonnes per year over 10 years, had further brightened the outlook.

ID:nWNAB00P4H

Malian officials have said the chaos has also left its second economic pillar, cotton, largely untouched.

ID:nL5E8KDLAB

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Daniel Flynn)

((richard.valdmanis@thomsonreuters.com)(+221 33 864 5076)(Reuters Messaging: richard.valdmanis.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: MALI GOLD/

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