BAMAKO, May 18 (Reuters) - Mali exported 67 tonnes of gold in 2016, down from 70.2 tonnes in 2015, due to a slight drop in production from small-scale artisanal miners, the country's national statistics institute said on Thursday.
Mali is the third biggest gold producer in Africa behind South Africa and Ghana. Record production in 2015 was driven by strong growth in artisanal mining, or panning for gold.
Artisanal production fell slightly in 2016 due to an increase in taxes and the government's move to ban gold panning during the May-to-September rainy season for safety reasons, said Bakary Guindo, an official at the Chamber of Mines.
Production in 2016 was valued at $2.2 billion and of the total exported 46.9 tonnes was mined by industrial producers, compared to 46.5 tonnes the previous year.
The other 20.1 tonnes was mined by artisanal producers, down from 23.7 tonnes in 2015.
Mali does not give official forecasts for artisanal production but expects production from industrial mines to fall to 45 tonnes in 2017. ($1 = 590.3000 CFA francs) (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Nellie Peyton, editing by Ed Osmond)