There are a handful of nations that rank as heavyweights in gold production globally. In Africa, all market observers focus on big names like Ghana and Burkina Faso.
But there's a "poor cousin" in this region that gets little attention. Despite the fact its geology may be just as prospective.
That's Cote D'Ivoire. The western neighbour of north Africa's two major gold states.
The reason this prospective country has been ignored has nothing to do with geology. But rather with legislation. With would-be miners here having laboured under an antiquated mining code dating back to 1995.
A lot has changed in the African mining scene since then. With these events apparently attracting the attention of Cote D'Ivoire officials.
So much so, the government has made some big changes of late--including the introduction of a revamped mining code. Which was this week highlighted by one of the country's only major gold producers: Randgold Resources.
Randgold's CEO Mark Bristow told a media briefing that Cote D'Ivoire's newly-adopted mining code "will accelerate the country's emergence as a significant gold producer." Strong words for a nation that currently has little in the way of mined output.
But a look at the new code indeed reveals it to be prospective. The rules will allow an exploration period of up to 10 years for mineral licenses. Also standardizing royalties and taxes, and providing financial incentives such as income tax holidays on production.
That could well be enough to kickstart a wave of expiration here. Especially given estimates that up to a third of the gold-hosting Birimian Greenstone Belt may be located in Cote D'Ivoire (this being the same formation that gives Ghana and Burkina Faso their high-powered output).
A few final tweaks are expected to the new rules over the coming months. But the draft mining code could well start attracting potential explorers soon. Even with gold prices weak, this may simply be too good an opportunity to miss.
Here's to a golden shift,
By Dave Forest