Mali became Africa's third-largest gold producer, behind South Africa and Ghana, and gold accounted for 95% of the value of Mali's mineral production, and 40% of Mali's exports in 2001. Total gold mine output (metal content) was 25,000 kg in 2000, up from 4,329 in 1996. The Sadiola Hill open-pit mine produced 19,000 kg in 2000—making it the largest gold mine in West Africa—from a resource of 120,000 kg. The Syama mine, which produced 8,000 kg, was mothballed in 2001, pending higher gold prices; it had the country's largest resources, 196,000 kg. The Morilla gold mine, opened by Mali's president in 2001, expected to produce 15,550 kg per year during a minimum nine-year period, from a resource of 140,000 kg. The Loulo (105,000-kg resource), Yatela, Segala, and Alamoutala deposits were in development. Since 1997, Mali has attracted $850 million in new gold development investments, and expected to produce 50,000 kg per year by 2006. Large-scale gold mining began in 1984, at Kalana, southwest of Bougouni, with aid from the former USSR.
Construction was Mali's second-leading industry in 2002, behind food processing, and phosphate and gold mining comprised the third-leading industry. In 2000, Mali also produced 1,000 kg of silver (content of doré bullion) in 2000, up from 270 in 1996, as well as hydraulic cement, clays, diamond, gypsum, marble, sand and gravel, salt, stone, and tin. No phosphate was produced in the past several years.
Salt mining provided an evocative link between Mali's present and past. Two salt caravans, each including thousands of camels, annually transported salt, in 30 kg–40 kg bars, from the famous salt city of Taoudenni, 700 km south, to Tombouctou, and, from there, to Nioro and other distribution centers. Output was 6,000 tons.
Bauxite, iron, calcium, kaolin, copper, manganese, phosphate, tin, zinc, lead, diamond, marble, and lithium deposits have been located; their exploitation depended on improved transportation, among other factors. Manganese reserves were 7.5 billion tons, of 30%–40% grade ore. Western Mali had numerous bauxite deposits, ranging from 10 to 580 million tons, at 2%–48% aluminum content. Phosphate reserves were estimated at 10 million tons, with anhydrous phosphate content of 31%. There was a marble quarry at Sélinkégni, a limestone quarry at Diamou, and a phosphate complex at Bourem. Mineral exploration interest was focused on diamond, gold, and oil.
All mines were owned by the state; some quarries were privately owned. At the request of mining companies, the government set up a regional mining office in Kayes, to eliminate the 500 km journey between Bamako and the primary mining region, in western Mali, for routine administrative operations. The government eliminated the tax on insurance for vehicles used on mining sites, and reduced taxes on sales by mining companies (from 6% to 3%), and on proceeds from the transfer of shares in mining companies (from 20% to 10%). The government also lengthened the tenure for medium-scale mining permits, and introduced a four-year permit for small-scale mining. To address Mali's underdeveloped transportation network, the Africa Development Fund approved a loan to finance the multinational Kankan-Kouremale-Bamako road project in Guinea and Mali.
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