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Randgold’s giant DRC project prepares to pour first gold

24th July 2013

By: Henry Lazenby

Creamer Media Deputy Editor: North America

  

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TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Africa-focused Randgold Resources is preparing for the first gold pour at its Kibali project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Randgold said the project had advanced to the immediate preproduction development stage and more than a million tonnes of ore from the openpit mine had already been stockpiled to feed the metallurgical plant’s oxide circuit, which was scheduled to start commissioning in the third quarter this year.

CEO Mark Bristow said on Tuesday that all 36 power-generator sets had arrived on site and the backup diesel power station was on schedule, with the first six of the 15 generator sets needed for plant start-up already commissioned.

The construction of the first hydrostation was on track for completion in the first quarter of 2014, and would be followed by three more stations.

Work on the underground mine was also progressing well, with the development of the declines ahead of schedule and the vertical shaft due to reach a depth of 183 m by year-end.

In line with Randgold’s policy of local employment and upskilling, 71 people from the local community, as well as another 22 DRC nationals were currently being trained as plant operators and supervisors at Randgold’s Tongon mine, in Côte d’Ivoire, and its Morila mine, in southern Mali. Similar to Randgold’s other mines, Kibali’s management team is being drawn largely from host-country nationals.

Meanwhile, the relocation programme, one of the most complex and sensitive parts of the project’s development, was nearing completion, with more than 3 400 families already resettled in the new model village of Kokiza. Randgold said it was in the process of handing over the village to a local administration.

“We are on the brink of delivering another world-class gold mine to our stakeholders. We’re particularly proud of our record of meeting our commitments at every stage of the project, starting soon after its acquisition, when we succeeded in doubling the size of its reserves as forecast in our initial submissions to government. Since then, we have achieved all that we promised, and more,” Bristow said.

He implored the DRC authorities to support the project in its home stretch, to ensure that everything went smoothly from here on, and that the first bar of gold was produced and delivered on time.

Bristow noted that the recent drop in the gold price was having major repercussions for the mining industry, with projects being cancelled, budgets cut and growth plans revised downwards.

“Kibali represents an initial investment of $1.7-billion by Randgold and its partner AngloGold Ashanti, who are also funding Sokimo, the DRC government-owned gold mining company that holds a 10% carried interest in the joint venture.

“It is my hope that it will serve as the platform for further gold discoveries and developments in the DRC. We are also continuing with our engagement with the DRC government in its review of the mining code, and we trust that this will not be amended in a way that discourages further investment here. The current code serves the State and the industry fairly and well and Kibali is the first gold mine to be developed under this code. What is required is not a change to that code but its effective application,” he said.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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