Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 26 April 2014 - Côte d’Ivoire’s investor-friendly new mining code, developed in close collaboration with its mining industry, will accelerate the country’s emergence as a significant gold producer, Randgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow told a media briefing here today. Randgold operates the Tongon gold mine in Côte d’Ivoire and has extensive exploration holdings elsewhere in the country.
Bristow noted that the depletion of the world’s mature goldfields had shifted gold miners’ focus to new regions, notably in Africa. Despite the continuing fallback in supply from South Africa, once the world’s largest gold producer, Africa still accounted for 20% of global gold output, thanks to the recent growth of the gold mining industries elsewhere on the continent, notably in West Africa.
“Considering the continent’s vast mineral wealth, however, it still has a long way to go to deliver on its full potential,” Bristow said. “Investors are deterred by the political and infrastructural risks associated with Africa, but in Côte d’Ivoire we have shown how these challenges can be overcome by a true partnership between a mining company, the government and the people.”
This spirit of cooperation was evident in the process of formulating the new code, said Bristow, and he was sure that the country’s mining companies would also be involved in the finalisation of the decree of application which will lay down the rules for the code’s implementation. “It’s now all about delivery by the government as well as the industry, but the principle has already been established that this country needs business partners, not barriers. That applies to the rest of the continent as well,” he said.
Partnership implied a long term commitment to mutual goals between the partners, Bristow said. Randgold’s commitment to Côte d’Ivoire was evident from its nurturing of the Tongon project through a protracted civil war and its investment in the development of the mine in the aftermath of that war. The mine was commissioned amidst the unrest which followed the disputed outcome of a presidential election but even so it made a profit in its first quarter of operation and every quarter since, and has made a significant contribution to the State’s treasury at a time when it was most needed.
“Tongon has made good progress in dealing with a number of technical challenges but the issue of lower than expected recoveries is still being addressed. As we have reported before, this requires the expansion of the flotation circuit which is scheduled to be commissioned at the start of 2015, and the associated pressure on throughput and costs will have to be managed carefully,” he said.
"Challenges in reaching consistent availability in the crushing plant have resulted in a joint decision with the supplier Sandvik to change the current equipment to conventional Sandvik CH660 cone crushers. Randgold is working closely with Sandvik to combine the replacement with an upgraded flow sheet including additional equipment and circuits to achieve the required capacity with an improved performance."
“Randgold is also investing some $6 million in exploration programmes on 12 active permits elsewhere in Côte d’Ivoire. Early results from the Mankono and Fapoho permits had confirmed significant gold in soil anomalies in favourable geological and structural settings. Drilling targets are currently being defined. Adjacent to the Tongon deposit, lower grade mineralisation in several satellite pits is being evaluated as part of a project to extend the mine’s life,” he said.