A coup d'etat in Mali Thursday is not affecting gold production there, miners in the country are saying, as events related to the military uprising seem confined to the country's capital, hundreds of miles away from gold deposits.
There's really been no impact, said Laura Young, director of investor relations at Toronto-based Iamgold Corp. (NYSE: IAG), which is involved in two joint ventures in the African country. Young noted the mines the company operates in a partnership with South African AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (NYSE: AU) are over 600 miles away from Bamoko, where the political and military developments are taking place.
AngloGold also said its operations in the country were not currently affected.
Mali, the third-largest gold producer in Africa, has seen a political drama regarding the country's leadership evolve over the past 48 hours, as a seemingly rag-tag group of mid-level soldiers has taken over the country's presidential palace and national broadcaster, declaring a coup and a curfew.
Yet neither the current Malian government, other nations, nor the international media is giving much credence to the military action.
Unlike recent events to have rocked the countries of North Africa, the coup does not involve claims of wider social justice or lack of democracy -- presidential elections are less than a month away -- and is not being launched in support of a previously oppressed ethnic or sectarian group. Instead, it is an inter-military squabble over how the Malian regime is fighting a minor rebellion in the north of the country. Essentially, soldiers are justifying overthrowing the government by saying the current administration has neglected to give them enough guns to tamp down that rebellion.
The current Malian government, as well as Nigeria and South Africa have both referred to the action as a mutiny rather than a coup, and an African Union executive emphasized only some elements of the Malian army had taken part.
And while soldiers were observed firing AK-47s into the air near the country's main TV station, carrying flatscreens off the presidential palace and parading the capital on the back of late-model pickup trucks and dirt bikes, experts in Malian politics say how much actual power the unexpected putsch has is unclear.
Pierre Boilley, a Mali expert at the University of Paris, told French radio that it's not entirely clear that power has been taken, according to the New York Times.
Closer to the events, Mark Bristow, chief executive of Jersey-based gold miner Randgold Resources Ltd. (Nasdaq: GOLD) -- who is currently touring the firm's operations in west Mali -- also dismissed concerns the situation will get out of hand
Malians respect laws and I don't believe this will come with a high-handed change in political direction, Bristow said in a statement. We don't expect any subsequent governments to disregard proper and due process.
The market was having none of it, however, and investors punished companies with large operations in Mali on the uncertainty created by the situation. In a day where gold and silver mining stocks were outperforming the sell-off in the wider basic materials sector -- and gold was slightly down - American depositary shares of Randgold Resources were of over 10.77 percent during mid-day trading in the Nasdaq market.
Iamgold and AngloGold Ashanti, which are less exposed overall to production changes in Mali, were down 2.54 and 1.82 percent, respectively.
Shares of Randgold Resources were down 11.52 in afternoon trading. Shares of AngloGold Ashanti were down 2 percent, and Iamgold shares lower by 2.5 percent.