Bamako, Mali, 22 April 2008 - The Yalea underground gold mine being developed at Randgold Resources' Loulo project in Mali is scheduled to establish its first mining faces in the second quarter of this year, with full production by 2009, Loulo general manager Amadou Konta told a media briefing in the Mali capital today.
A second underground mine, Gara, is currently at final planning stage and is expected to be in production by 2010. Together, they will boost Loulo's total gold output from the current level of 250 000 ounces of gold per year - produced by its two existing open-pit mines - to 400 000 ounces in 2010.
In the meantime, continuing exploration at Loulo increased its reserves from 6.8 million to 7.4 million ounces of gold last year, net of depletion by mining, and there is considerable scope for further growth, says chief executive Mark Bristow.
"In fact, Loulo is not just a world-class gold mine; it also has the potential to become the hub of what we believe to be one of Africa's most exciting emerging goldfields, the Kenieba Inlier, which already hosts a number of multi-million ounce deposits," Bristow said.
"Because of our interest in this area, we have built a landholding of 14 000 km² around Loulo. Some 100 kilometres to the west, across the border in Senegal, we control a further 7 000 km², which includes the recently discovered and very exciting Massawa target. The substantial infrastructure we have established at Loulo gives us the ideal base for significant brownfield expansion in this region."