Tickers in this Article: KGC, NEM, ABX, GFI, IAG
Gold prices hit new highs this week as investors sought out safe havens for investment. This is great news for gold miners, many of which are scouring the African continent for this increasingly precious metal in an effort to boost supplies for the market. These projects in Africa and elsewhere are needed to meet the expected rise in demand. Africa will play a key role in the mining companies' efforts to grow production and reserves. Here we look at major gold companies that are putting their stakes in Africa.

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The Players
Kinross Gold (NYSE:KGC) expects to produce between 440,000 and 500,000 ounces of gold from projects in Africa in 2011. This represents 18% of its total gold production for the year.

In Mauritania, the company is working on developing the Tasiast mine, which is scheduled to start production in 2014. This is an expansion of a current mine and will add an average of 1.3 million ounces of gold annually during the first full eight years of production.

Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) is active in Africa and expects to get 800,000 ounces of annual gold production from projects here through 2017. The company will spend in excess of $1.3 billion over that time to develop projects in Africa. This region is critical for the company if it hopes to meet its goal of a 35% increase in company-wide gold production by that year.

Newmont Mining will get 50% of this new production, or 400,000 ounces of annual gold production from the Akyem project located in Ghana. The company will spend $900 million here and expects first production in 2013.

Africa is not a major area for Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX), which expects to get only 7% of its 2011 gold production from its operations here, and has 9% of its proved and probable reserves located in Africa.

However, Barrick Gold plans to spend between $320 million and $340 million on exploration activities in 2011, and will put about 18% of that budget into Africa. One prospective area is the Golden Ridge project located in Tanzania, where it is working on a feasibility study.

Barrick Gold conducts its operations in Africa through African Barrick Gold, and conducted an initial public offering (IPO) of part of the company in March 2010. The company still retains a 75% share of African Barrick Gold. (For more on gold, check out Why Gold Matters.)

Gold Fields Ltd. (NYSE:GFI) is in the midst of developing the South Deep project in South Africa. The company expects production to continue to ramp up and eventually reach 750,000 ounces of gold annually by 2014.

Gold Fields Ltd. also has another project at an earlier stage of development in Mali. The company expects production from this area to start up in 2015.

IAMGOLD (NYSE:IAG) has eight working mines in Africa and is exploring and working on various expansions and new projects here. One of the largest is the Essakane project located in Burkina Faso. The mine is expected to produce as much as 390,000 ounces of gold in 2011, and the company hopes an expansion underway here will boost that production to between 450,000 and 470,000 ounces.

The Bottom Line
With gold prices hitting new highs, gold miners have more impetus than ever to seek out new deposits of this precious metal. Many miners are searching in Africa. If there is a gold rush, you can bet that African miners will be in the running to profit. (For more on what drives gold prices, read What Drives The Price Of Gold?)

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