September 24, 2012 / 3:23 PM / 5 years ago

Firms pen deal for Mali's first gold refinery

BAMAKO, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Mali’s first gold refinery will be built in a $58 million joint venture between Swiss Bullion Company and Malian firm PAMBC, officials said on Monday.

The plant will be in southern Mali and is due to begin operations by November 2013, the director of Swiss Bullion Company, Dario Littera, said on state radio. It will have a monthly capacity of 20 tonnes of ore, he added.

Swiss Bullion Company and PAMBC signed the deal on Friday at a ceremony attended by the Mali’s minister of mines, the government said in a statement.

Mali is Africa’s third biggest gold miner behind South Africa and Ghana, and is on track to raise output despite the chaotic aftermath of a military coup which allowed militants to seize control of northern regions.

Mali’s gold is currently refined abroad, and the country produces about 50 tonnes of refined gold a year. (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Adama Diarra; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Pravin Char)

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