The Malian Government has cancelled 130 gold mining licences in the country, following an audit that it performed recently to revamp the sector.
The cancelled licences represent approximately 30% of the total mining permits currently valid in the country. Spanning a surface area of 13,000km², these permits are held by both Malians and foreigners, reported Reuters.
However, no exploration permits have been cancelled for mines that are already in production.
In September 2013, the government said that it would review all the existing mining contracts, titles and licences and change the permit status for companies that are not serving the country's interest.
Mali mines ministry technical advisor Hassimi Sidibe told the news agency: "It is the result of the inventory that was launched a few months ago by the department, 130 permits, that is about 30% of all total permits have been annulled."
Mines ministry said in a statement that the cancelled permits will be awarded to other investors who are have the technical and financial ability to carry-out explorations.
Being the third largest gold producer in the continent after South Africa and Ghana, Mali produced 67.4t of gold in 2013 and has estimated reserves of nearly 609t as of 2014.
Nine companies, including Randgold Resources, Anglogold Ashanti and Resolute Mining currently have operations in Mali.