BAMAKO - Mali has signed an agreement with Russia to build a gold refinery in the capital Bamako, the West African country’s military government said.

The facility, capable of processing 200 tonnes per year, would be Mali’s largest gold refinery.

Mali has used Russian private military force Wagner to fight Islamist insurgents. The group has lucrative mining deals in various African countries.

The gold refinery deal is a non-binding memorandum of understanding that is valid for four years.

A Malian minister announced the deal in an interview broadcast on state television on Tuesday but did not provide a timeline for construction.