Ivory Coast expects annual output from its burgeoning gold mining sector to reach 25 tonnes by 2015 as new mines come on line, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

The West African nation produced 12 tonnes of gold last year despite a civil war, up from seven tonnes in 2010.

"Today in Ivory Coast we're producing around 15 tonnes of gold per year. In 2015 gold production could hit 25 tonnes per year," Bruno Kone told journalists following a cabinet meeting.

The projection is significantly higher than a forecast by the country's mines minister in July last year, when output was estimated to rise to 20 tonnes by 2020, and reflects growing interest in the underexploited sector.

Ivory Coast has been slow to develop its potentially substantial mineral resources, focusing instead on the agriculture as the world's top cocoa producer.

Record-breaking gold prices, however, are kindling interest in West African gold, and Ivory Coast's government is keen to harness the sector's potential earning power.

Randgold Resources, Australia's Newcrest Mining and Toronto-listed La Mancha Resources have mines in production. And the government has promised to speed up its process for granting permits.

The government on Wednesday granted a production permit to Etruscan Resources, which was acquired by Canada's Endeavour Mining Corp after it applied.

"An investment of 51 billion CFA francs ($95.6 million) will be made by this company," said Kone, adding that three more production permits were in the approval pipeline and would be granted in the coming months.