TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Africa-focused gold producer Randgold Resources on Tuesday said the Kibali gold mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was now well advanced into the second and final phase of development that would take it to full production by 2018.
LSE- and Nasdaq-listed Randgold was currently developing and operating the mine, which it owned in partnership with AngloGold Ashanti and the Congolese parastatal SOKIMO.
CEO Mark Bristow said with the final commissioning of the metallurgical plant and the first of three hydropower plants, Kibali was now operating at design capacity, with the ramp-up having been delivered against plan.
The project’s priorities for the year included advancing development of the underground mine, which would complement the existing openpit operations, ramping up yearly output to 600 000 oz of gold, commissioning the second hydropower plant and starting work on the third, and continue expanding and upgrading the local skills base.
Bristow noted that the past year had also seen the resettlement programme being finalised, including completing a Catholic church complex in the new model town of Kokiza. The company was also involved in expanding the local road network to 350 km, playing an integral role in developing a robust local economy.
Since the start of the project, Randgold had awarded business valued at more than $650-million to Congolese-owned companies, while its engagement with local cooperatives had created more than 400 non-mining jobs.
“Our nurturing of Congolese contractors by providing them with capital, technical advice and an order base is enabling us to source many of our requirements locally, without compromising on price or quality. All road and civil construction related to our hydropower plants is being carried out by Congolese contractors, for example, and by the end of the year we aim to have at least half of our trucking handled by local truckers,” Bristow advised.
Randgold reported that despite the size and complexity of the operation and the high level of activity on site, Kibali was maintaining a good safety record, recently posting two-million lost-time-injury-free hours. The local incidence of malaria, which killed more people in Africa than any other disease, had also been reduced by 55% since the start of the project in 2011.
“As we’ve said from the start, we believe Kibali could be the engine that drives not just the transformation of its region but also the foundation for the development of a new mining frontier in north-east Congo to rival Katanga. One of our key objectives is to show the rest of the world that the country is a safe and attractive destination for new investment, which is needed to develop its extensive mineral potential,” Bristow noted.
He added that achieving that goal would, however, require the active involvement and support of the DRC government.
“In its present form, the country’s proposed new mining code will deter rather than attract investors, which is why Randgold is committed to working with the authorities to produce a code capable of competing with those of rival exploration and mining destinations,” Bristow advised.
Other issues that required the DRC government’s attention were the maintenance of law and order in a dynamic environment, the perennial problem of illegal mining and the overdue settlement of tax reimbursement.