Toronto, 3 March 2014 - There are many challenges to mining in Africa but there are even more opportunities open to those with the vision to grasp them, Randgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow said today. Randgold operates gold mines in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Speaking at the PDAC convention here, Bristow said the depletion of the traditional gold mining regions was forcing gold miners to turn to highly prospective emerging countries previously regarded as too risky. At the same time, the end of the Cold War had opened up gold fields in Africa and other emerging markets that had long been difficult or impossible to access.
“If you want to hunt elephants you have to go to elephant country, and if you want to find world-class gold deposits, Africa is a very good place to look. West and Central Africa now rank high among the world’s premier gold destinations,” he said.
“I’ve been involved in mining in Africa for 30 years and in that time I have seen great changes in the continent. Slowly but steadily, if sometimes painfully, it is emerging from centuries of exploitation and oppression as its people increasingly demand economic and political freedom, and accountability from their leaders. I am proud that in its way, Randgold has pointed to what can be achieved here. Born and raised in Africa, run by Africans and focused entirely on African assets, Randgold has become a truly world-class company, listed on the London Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, part of the FTSE 100, with some of the leading global funds as its shareholders.”
He cautioned prospective investors in Africa that securing their social licence to do business there was as important as getting the technical and financial aspects of a project right. Randgold’s success in Africa, he said, would not have been possible without its partnership philosophy, which recognises host countries and their people as stakeholders in the company.
“Mining should be seen as a force for good, which converts national assets into sustainable economic benefits, in close cooperation with governments and communities,” he said.
Bristow also warned that the search for new multi-million ounce gold deposits was being hampered by the trend of junior mining companies neglecting their traditional role as explorers to focus on developing marginal assets. It would be better for the gold mining industry and for African mining countries, he said, if the juniors stopped trying to be developers of marginal assets and reverted to being explorers and entrepreneurs with a focus on finding world class deposits.