Saturday, July 13, 2024

Mali signs gold refinery agreement with Russia

Mali’s military government said it had signed an agreement with Russia to build a gold refinery in the capital Bamako, one of a series of deals between the two countries as Russia seeks to expand its regional influence.

The deal, a non-binding memorandum of understanding, involves the construction of a 200-tonne-per-year refinery, Minister Alousséni Sanou said in an interview on state television broadcast late on Tuesday.

The memorandum is valid for four years, he said, without giving a timetable for construction. If built, it would be the West African country’s largest gold refinery.

“This will allow us not only to control all gold production, but also to correctly apply all taxes and duties,” Sanou said.

The deal is the latest sign of Russia’s deepening interests in Mali, one of Africa’s biggest gold producers, as Western influence wanes there.

Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom signed a deal with Mali in October to explore for minerals and produce nuclear energy. Sanou said he had also signed a deal with a Russian company to build a 200-300 megawatt solar power plant by mid-2025.

Mali’s military, which took power in a coup in 2021, last year kicked out troops from former colonial power France who were fighting Islamist militants and teamed up with Russian military contractor Wagner Group, which has operations across Africa, including lucrative mining deals.

Wagner has been accused of human rights abuses in Mali’s fight against Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Industrial gold production in Mali totalled 66.2 tonnes last year, mostly from mines owned by Barrick Gold, B2Gold, Resolute Mining, Allied Gold and Endeavour Mining.

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Alice
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