Africa still holds the key to the best gold discoveries among all gold-bearing countries in the world, irrespective of the political upheavals and armed uprising in that region, the chief executive of Montreal-based Semafo Inc. (SMF) said.
U.S. stocks started the week with a sharp loss after Friday's worse-than-expected jobs data cast doubt on the pace of the labor market's recovery.
"Africa is the new frontier," Benoit La Salle told Bloomberg News in a telephone interview. "That's where you'll find the most favorable geology."
Not that La Salle did not experience his fair share of headaches running his three gold mines in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger. In fact last year, Semafo was forced to shut down its Guinea mine for six months after a mine invasion occurred instigated by the residents who started to use the mine for illegal gold mining activities.
"The best way to reduce risk is to be active in several countries," La Salle pointed out. "Political instability in Africa doesn't mean you will be expropriated. Expropriation risk is something you will see in industrialized countries like Argentina. Governments in Africa, and especially West Africa, don't want to see the mines close. If they nationalize, they know that foreign investors are going to stop coming."
Semafo, which produced 250,000 ounces of the safe haven precious yellow metal gold in 2011, looks to increase production to 500,000 ounces this year, betting on the performances of its gold mines in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger.
"Here in North America, we've been exploring for 300 years and there really isn't much left in the ground," the chief executive of the Montreal-based Semafo said. "Burkina Faso has seen seven mines built in the last five years. It's been several decades since we saw that kind of activity in Quebec."
The government of Quebec recently said it will spend $45 billion to entice miners to invest in its mining industry in the next 25 years.
First quarter net income of Semafo grew to $28.1 million, a 55 per cent jump over a year ago, as gold output hit a total of 60,900 ounces.
Total cash margin increased 34 per cent to $1,002 an ounce compared a year ago.
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