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Country summary

Although Mali is a landlocked country with poor infrastructure, the government's reformed mineral code has attracted numerous foreign investors. This has resulted in several new mines (gold in particular), which has boosted the gold mining industry to make it Mali's second largest income earner after cotton. Following the opening of several new gold mines, Mali is now Africa's third largest gold producer. Gold production forms the cornerstone of the Mali mining sector, representing 95% of the country's mineral production. Other commodities have not been developed due to poor access and little local demand. Diamonds are recovered from artisinal gold miners in the Kéniéba area. Several kimberlite pipes have been located, some diamondiferous, but no commercial production has occurred to date.

Since 1996, foreign mining companies increased gold mining operations in the country following the discoveries of large gold deposits such as Sadiola Hill, Yatela, Morila, and Loulo. Mali produced 43.5 tonnes of gold in 2011, for a revenue of USD475m. Gold output for 2012 is expected to increase with two new gold mines coming into production, Randgold’s Gounkoto Mine and Wassou’Or’s Kodieran Mine.  Deposits of copper, tin, bauxite, iron ore, manganese, uranium and diamonds exist in the country but only gold and phosphate are being mined.

In the late 1800s, Mali fell under French control, becoming part of French Sudan. Mali gained independence in 1959, with Senegal, as the Mali Federation. A year later, Senegal withdrew from the federation and the Mali Federation became the independent nation of Mali. After a long period of one-party rule, a 1991 coup led to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state. Mali now has a republican form of government, and has completed four presidential elections – the latest in April 2007, won by Amadou Toumani Touré for his second and last term of office. The next election is scheduled for April 2012.


Mali, officially the Republic of Mali (French: République du Mali), is a landlocked nation in Western Africa covering 1.2 million km2. The country is highly dependent on gold mining and agricultural exports for revenue. Most of the country lies in the southern Sahara, which produces a hot, dust-laden harmattan haze common during dry seasons. The country extends southwest through the subtropical Sahel to the Sudanian savannah zone. Mali is mostly flat, rising to rolling northern plains covered by sand.

Mali is the seventh largest country in Africa, bordering Algeria to the north, Niger to the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire to the south, Guinea to the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania to the west. Bamako is the capital, with a population of approximately 1.8 million people.