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Mali's unmined gold reserves hold steady on new discoveries

BAMAKO, April 29 (Reuters) - Gold discoveries in Mali offset production last year, holding the West African country's estimated gold reserves at about 703 tonnes, or around 12 years of output at current production levels, the Mines Ministry said on Thursday.

Mali is Africa's fourth-largest gold producer after South Africa, Ghana and Sudan, with about 13 mines operated by multinational companies including Barrick Gold Corp, B2Gold Corp and Resolute Mining Ltd.

Mining companies produced 65.2 tonnes of gold last year but discovered a further 65.7 tonnes of additional reserves, an official from the Mines Ministry told Reuters.

"The mines still have a lot of room to grow," said the official, who asked not to be named. (Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney)