BAMAKO, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Industrial gold production in Mali, Africa's third biggest producer, is still expected to rise almost 21 percent to 60 tonnes this year, a government official told Reuters on Friday, despite slightly lower than expected output so far.
Aboubacar Ogognagaly, head of the mines division, said a previous production forecast of 59.3 tonnes of gold for 2018 had been marginally increased.
"It's a realistic forecast, provided there are no major technical problems at the facilities," he said.
Mali is the third biggest producer of gold after South Africa and Ghana with nine gold mines operated by multinational companies, including Randgold Resources, Anglogold Ashanti, B2Gold and Resolute Mining.
In March, the mines ministry said the expected increase in output for 2018 was primarily due to the start of production at B2Gold's Fekola and Hummingbird Resources' Komana mines.
By the end of July, Mali's industrial miners had produced 34.57 tonnes of gold compared with a forecast of 34.66 tonnes.
Mamadou Sidibe, deputy director of the government's Cell for Planning and Statistics, said the rainy season was responsible for the slightly lower-than-expected output, but he expected production in the coming months would make up for it. (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Elaine Hardcastle)