As the second largest producer of Gold in Africa, Ghana’s gold mining sector contribute greatly to the country’s economy. Gold contributes over 95% of the total mineral revenue of Ghana. Between 2015 and 2022, gold export revenue has increased from $3.21 billion to $6.6 billion. According to the Ghana Chamber of Mines, a total of 79.9 tonnes of gold were produced in 2021, after a much higher total production of 114 tonnes in 2020. Large scale mining companies produce close to 60% of the country’s total gold production with the remaining accounted for by the artisanal and small-scale mining sector (ASM). Contribution of the ASM sector to the national gold production has over the years increased steadily from 2.2% to 43% between 1989 and 2021.
Ghana is home to a number of large scale gold mining companies mostly registered with the Ghana Chamber of Mines. Some of these industrial gold mines include: Adamus Resources Ltd, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd (Obuasi & Iduapriem), Asanko Gold Ghana Ltd, Chirano Gold Mines Ltd, Goldfields Ghana Ltd (Damang Mine & Tarkwa), Golden Star Ltd (Bogoso/Prestea & Wassa), Newmont Ghana Gold Ltd (Ahafo & Akyem), Perseus Mining Ghana Ltd and X’tra Gold Mining Ltd.
Source: Minerals Commission, Ghana
Gold Refinery Destinations
Gold refineries are major actors in the gold value chain. They are known for reprocessing gold into its purest form suitable for industrial use. The gold refinery process ensures the removal of finer impurities that the smelting process could not remove. Refineries rely on mining companies for the supply of gold dorés to create gold bars with purity of 99% or higher (24 karats). There are many gold refineries across the world. Some are built for domestic markets and others for the international market. Many of these refineries, but not all, are certified by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).
Due to limited domestic gold refinery capacity, almost all of Africa’s industrial gold are refined by refineries abroad. Just as in many African countries, Ghana’s industrial gold are exported and refined overseas in countries such as Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, Germany and India. LBMA reports that in 2020, a total of 450 tonnes of African industrial gold worth CHF 23 billion were supplied to LBMA certified refineries. Out of this a total of 90 tonnes of gold were sourced from Ghana.
A recent report by SWISSAID has shown the refinery destinations of industrial gold from Ghana and other African countries. The report identified 142 business relationships between 16 gold refineries and 116 African industrial mines between 2015 and 2023. Discussed below are the LBMA certified refinery destinations of gold produced by large scale mining companies in Ghana.
Rand refinery is based in South Africa and is the only African LBMA certified refinery. Owned by four major mining companies—AngloGold Ashanti (42.41%), Sibanye Gold (33.15%), DRDGOLD (11.3%), Harmony Gold Mining (10%)—the refinery has a processing capacity of 450–600 tonnes of gold per year. According to the SWISSAID report, Chifeng Jilong Gold Mining (Golden Star Wassa), Galiano Gold/Gold Fields (Asanko), Nguvu Holdings (Adamus Resources) – (Nzema), AngloGold Ashanti (Obuasi & Iduapriem) and Blue Gold International Limited (Bogoso / Prestea) are mining companies in Ghana that either have an existing business relationship or a presumably business relationship with the refinery. Rand refinery also process and refine gold from other African countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire, Namibia and countries from other parts of the world.
Metalor is an international group owned by Tanaka Precious Metals which has 17 subsidiaries, including five refineries across the world. Its headquarters is in Marin (Switzerland). The refinery has an annual refining capacity of 300 tonnes. The other refineries are located in China (Suzhou), the United States (North Attleborough), Hong Kong (Kwai Chung), and Singapore. According to the SWISSAID report, Metalor receives gold supplies from Ghana based mining companies such as: Asante Gold (Chirano), Xtra-Gold (Kibi), Goldstone Resources (Homase-Akrokeri), and also possibly from Nguvu Holdings/Adamus Resources (Nzema).
MKS PAMP / MMTC-PAMP
MKS PAMP SA is part of the MKS PAMP Group Limited, a group active in the precious metals business, trading, refining, storage and mine financing services. It has five brands, 13 offices worldwide and operates two gold refineries which are MKS PAMP and MMTC-PAMP. MKS PAMP SA is located in Castel San Pietro, in the canton of Ticino, Switzerland. The refinery is able to process 450 tonnes of gold per year. MMTC-PAMP on the other hand is located in New Delhi, India and is jointly owned by the MKS PAMP Group and MMTC, an Indian state-owned enterprise. MMTC-PAMP is able to process 300 tonnes of gold per year. The two refineries are members of the LBMA. The report confirms that MKS PAMP / MMTC-PAMP has some business relationship with Newmont (Akyem and Ahafo), Gold Fields (Tarkwa and Damang), Asante Gold (Bibiani), Perseus Mining (Edikan), and Nordgold (SMD)-(Lefa). These mining companies either send gold to the Swiss refinery or the Indian refinery depending on the market demand.
Valcambi refinery is owned by an Indian company known as Rajesh Export but based in Balerna, in the canton of Ticino, Switzerland. The refinery was formally owned by Newmont in collaboration with several investors. The refinery has an impressive refining capacity of 1,200 tonnes of gold annually. SWISSAID identified Newmont (Ahafo and Akyem) as Ghanaian industrial mines with a presumably existing business relationship with the refinery.
The Perth Mint
Owned by the Government of Western Australia, The Perth Mint refines up to 800 tonnes of gold annually. The Perth Mint started refining gold from Africa (Resolute Mining and Perseus Mining) only after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in April 2022, the refinery ended its business relationship with Perseus Mining’s mines in both Ghana (Edikan) and Côte D’Ivoire (Yaouré, Sissingué) for commercial reasons.
Domestic Gold Refinery Capacity
For decades, over 90% of gold produced in Ghana are exported in its raw state without value addition. As a result, the country is not able to gain full value from the production of gold. Although few local refineries are in operation—Gold Coast Refinery and Sahara Royal Gold Refinery and recently Royal Ghana Gold Refinery—these refineries have not been able to capture the large scale mining market.
Founded in 2016, Gold Coast Refinery is a subsidiary of the Euroget Group, a privately owned refinery with a refining capacity of 480-600 Kg of gold per day and an annual capacity of about 360 tonnes. Since its inception, the refinery has mainly focused on refining gold from the ASM sector. Sahara Royal Gold Refinery Limited also a privately owned refinery, was established in August 2012 and has the capacity to refine a minimum of 200 kg and a maximum of 300 kg of gold daily.
Royal Ghana Gold Refinery Ltd which recently became operational in 2022, is jointly owned by the Rosy Royal Limited, an Indian Company and government of Ghana through the Precious Minerals Marketing Company with 20% stake of ownership. The refinery is expected to add value to locally produced gold, cut down the export of unprocessed gold and also feed the local jewelry industry. The refinery which is based in Accra has a daily refining capacity of 300 to 500 kilograms using chemical and electrical methods. Equipment and facilities available at the Refinery include: the Scanner, the Moulding room, the Assay laboratory, the Control room, the Refinery section which has the Electrolycis machine among others. As a final step, the refinery is looking forward to acquire certification from LBMA to expedite the process of selling gold on the international market.