22-05-2014 Cecilia Jamasmie | Mining.com
Tony Aubynn, the commission’s head, told Reuters the audit would allow the government to free up permits that can be reallocated, but warned the three-month moratorium on new warrants could be extended if necessary.
The move could be risky for the West African nation, which has been experiencing a major and ongoing drop in gold production as of late. With the gold price dropping by an average of 28% in 2013 and not doing much better this year, many mining companies operating in the country, such as AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU), Newmont (NYSE:NEM) and Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI), have had to cut back.
Small-scale operations are also declining. But for them it's not just the price drop— a government crackdown on illegal mining has also affected production.
MINING.com has kept a close eye on illegal gold mining in Ghana. At its peak, an estimated 50,000 foreign workers, mainly Chinese, were operating unlawfully in the country. This prompted the government to create a taskforce in May last year to tackle the subject, and so avoid tension-generating issues, such as the massive deportation of almost two hundred of his compatriots, arrested and expulsed from Ghana last year.
Image: Aljazeera’s documentary screen grab