March 29, 2016 / 3:53 PM / 2 years ago

Mali's Morila gold mine to close in 2019

BAMAKO, March 29 (Reuters) - Mali’s Morila gold mine, once among the West African nation’s most productive projects, will close in 2019, six years later than originally planned, after its reserves were found to be larger than thought, the ministry of mines said Tuesday.

The mine, owned by Randgold Resources, AngloGold Ashanti and Mali’s government, has produced 209 tonnes of gold since it opened in 2000, according to the ministry.

“The remaining reserves ... were larger than we thought,” said Karim Berthe, a senior official at the Ministry of Mines, adding that research was underway to develop small satellite mines around Morila.

Production has slipped at Morila in recent years. After producing over 4.7 tonnes of gold in 2015, the government has projected output of nearly 2.8 tonnes this year.

It was initially due to close in 2013, but that date was later pushed back to 2017.

Output from Mali, Africa’s third-largest gold producer after South Africa and Ghana, is expected to rise to 52.9 tonnes this year from 50.5 tonnes in 2015 as new mines make up for dwindling output from existing projects. (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Joe Bavier and David Evans)

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