JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Africa-focused miner Randgold Resources is rapidly advancing its further growth projects and examining new joint-venture opportunities, CE Mark Bristow said on Thursday.
At the release of the company’s 2012 annual report, he emphasised that Randgold’s top priority would be to pour first gold at the Kibali project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, before the end of the year.
Other focus areas would include ramping up production at the company’s flagship Loulo-Gounkoto complex, in Mali, and completing a feasibility study on a new underground mine at Gounkoto.
Despite capital expenditure of $562.3-million last year, mainly on Kibali, Randgold's cash and gold on hand at the end of 2012 totalled $403-million, which Bristow said made the company well placed to fund its future growth.
"Our exploration teams are hunting for additional resources for our mines, as well as fresh targets that will produce our next big discovery. Throughout the group, we will sustain a strong emphasis on growing production and containing costs, and our overall objective remains the creation and delivery of value to all our stakeholders," he said.
Despite record production having depleting Randgold’s reserves in 2012, the group’s yearly mineral resource and reserve declaration, as part of its 2012 annual report, revealed an increase in its attributable reserves for the year, while its overall reserve grade also continued to improve.
The declaration showed that the group’s total attributable mineral reserve ounces grew by 80 320 oz to 16.36-million ounces, with the grade increasing from 3.84 g/t to 3.87 g/t, while total attributable resources fell from 28.25-miilion ounces to 27.21-million ounces.
The company’s evaluation GM Rod Quick noted that the grade improvement had been driven principally by the group's flagship Loulo, Gounkoto and Kibali deposits.
"This ability to add quality ounces from extensions to our known orebodies and to continue converting ounces from the inferred to the indicated category shows the value of our strategy of focusing on world-class deposits," he said.
Quick noted that Randgold had not used the higher gold price to boost its ounces and that, for the second consecutive year, it had calculated its reserves at a relatively conservative $1 000/oz of gold, while its resources had been estimated at $1 500/oz.
Bristow said that, while the gold mining industry, in general, was decreasing the grade at which it mined to maintain production profiles, and thus intensifying cost pressures, Randgold was able to replace its depleted ounces at a higher grade.
"Randgold is strategically well positioned, with a substantial portfolio of quality greenfield prospects. We continue to explore aggressively across West and Central Africa's most prospective gold belts. We are also looking to expand our footprint there through joint ventures with junior exploration companies, some of whom hold good assets but are unable to develop them in a stressed market," he stated.