Randgold’s Kibali U/G section on track despite possible political pitfalls ahead

In a statement to local media Randgold Resources CEO, and driving force, Mark Bristow, reported excellent progress at its 45%-owned Kibali gold mine in the DRC, which it operates.  It built the mine ahead of schedule as an open pit operation with the underground section to follow, despite it being located in one of the most remote parts of the African continent in the northeast of the mineral rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) close to its border with South Sudan.  The construction logistics were daunting with virtually all the heavy equipment needing to be trucked to the site from ports far away on Africa’s east coast.

Kibali is also owned as to 45% by the much larger Anglogold Ashanti, which ceded construction and management to Randgold because of the latter’s strong prior expertise in constructing and operating gold mines in Mali and Cote d’Ivoire and in maintaining good relations with the governments in those nations – even through some major political changes. The balance of 10% of Kibali is owned by DRC parastatal, Sokimo.  However, while technical progress has perhaps exceeded expectations there are obviously some potential political pitfalls ahead if they cannot be warded off through negotiations with government, Bristow also warned.

The Kibali gold mine, nowadays one of the largest such operations in Africa, remains on track to achieve its production target of 610,000 ounces this year as its underground operations and the integration and automation of the vertical shaft enters the final commissioning and automation stage, Bristow told the audience at an event in DRC capital, Kinshasa.  The mine is anticipating a significant increase in production once the final shaft commissioning, which remains on a tight schedule, has been completed.

At a briefing for local media, Bristow said in spite of the high level of activity at the mine, there had been a significant improvement in the safety statistics, with its total injury frequency rate continuing to decrease and lost time injury frequency rate down to 0.31 per million hours worked in the September quarter.

Following the anticipated completion of the underground mine in the fourth quarter, the only major capital project still in the works would be Kibali’s third new hydropower station, currently being constructed by an all-Congolese contracting team.  Bristow said the availability of self-generated hydropower and the mine’s high degree of mechanisation and automation were important factors in Kibali’s ability to sustain its profitability throughout the ups and downs of the gold price cycle.

To date, over $2 billion has been spent on acquiring and developing Kibali, of which the majority had been paid out in the form of taxes, permits, infrastructure and payments to local contractors and suppliers.

“With capital expenditure tapering off, Kibali should now be preparing to pay back the loans taken to fund its development.  We are concerned, however, that its ability to do so will be impeded by the increasing amount of debt – currently standing at over $200 million – owed to the mine by the government.  TVA refunds, excess taxes and royalties in violation of the country’s mining code, make up the bulk of this amount,” Bristow said.

Another troubling development was the recent re-introduction to parliament by the Ministry of Mines of a proposed new mining code which is exactly the same as the one the government withdrew in 2015 after it was comprehensively demonstrated that it would seriously damage or even destroy the Congolese mining industry.

“Randgold has proven and continues to prove that it is committed to the DRC and to the development of a gold mining industry capable of making a substantial and lasting contribution to the country’s economy.  Despite all the challenges, including the volatile political climate and a deteriorating economy, we continue to invest here.  Our exploration teams are searching for our next big discovery in the greenstone belt of the north-eastern DRC.  In line with our local supply strategy, Kibali spent approximately $40 million with Congolese contractors in the past three months alone.  We are developing substantial agribusiness and other community projects.  And perhaps most important, we invest in the training and empowering of Congolese nationals, who already make up most of the Kibali management team, thus making a contribution of incalculable value to the expansion of the country’s skills base,” Bristow said.

“The DRC has all the materials for building a sustainable mining industry but that will require a fully committed partnership between the government on the one hand and the mining companies on the other.  Despite recent indications to the contrary, we remain confident that such a partnership is within reach, and that the government will see the critical importance of maintaining a stable, investor-friendly fiscal and regulatory environment for the country’s mining sector.  In this regard, we would welcome the opportunity to work with the government in jointly selecting an independent group of experts to benchmark the DRC mining code and its fiscal framework and to model the impact of the new proposed code, which we believe will be damaging to the development of the industry.”

These are, in effect, dire warnings by Bristow and illustrate some of the potential problems arising when working with the DRC government.  The DRC has enormous mineral potential for the production of many strategic metals and minerals, but the kinds of problems noted by Bristow could have a serious impact on further potential inward investment in the mining sector and could also adversely affect ongoing operations in the country.  The country had a hugely successful mining industry back in the mid 20th Century, but this largely fell into disrepair in the latter half of the century as foreign expertise was shunned.  One hopes this will not happen again.  The world needs the metals and minerals the DRC can supply.

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Randgold ‘problem child’ gold mine coming right.

For any other mining company, the Tongon gold mine, owned and operated by Randgold Resources, might be deemed a great success.  But for Randgold, which likes to stick to its production projections for all its operations in West and Central Africa, it has been something of a problem child underperforming against its scheduled output targets due to a succession of technical issues.  But even so it has still been a significant producer of the yellow metal at the kind of levels that would still be the envy of many other mid-sized gold mining companies.

Randgold CEO, Mark Bristow, on the occasion of a visit to the mine and to its host country ahead of the company’s second quarter results, due out the first week of August, has told the media in Cote d’Ivoire’s capital, Abidjan, that Tongon  continues to ramp up production as it tracks its 2017 target of 285,000 ounces of gold, making it a globally significant gold producer, but with a relatively short four year life remaining.  But Bristow went on to say that with Tongon now operating to plan, its focus had shifted to finding additional reserves and resources to replace depleted ounces and extend the mine’s life beyond its four years remaining.  The chances are that Randgold will be able to achieve this as the area around Tongon is seen as highly prospective for smaller satellite orebodies – and the company has a good track record of eking extended lives out of its Malian gold operations – notably at Morila which is still producing gold despite originally being due for closure some years ago.

Bristow also confirmed his long held view of Cote d’Ivoire’s exceptional prospectivity and its positive attitude towards foreign investment in the gold mining sector.

Elsewhere in the West African nation, Bristow commented that Randgold’s exploration programmes have defined a large target at Boundiali in the Fonondara corridor, which he described as ‘potentially the most exciting gold prospect in West Africa’.  The company has just completed its annual review of its exploration targets, which Bristow said had also highlighted very positive results from its other holdings in the country.

As to Tongon itself, and its contribution to the Ivorian economy, Bristow commented that last quarter it declared its second dividend, of which the government’s share, including taxes, was US$20 million (FCFA 12 billion).  In total, Bristow claimed that the Tongon mine has contributed just under $1 billion (FCFA 520 billion) to the Ivorian economy in the form of royalties, taxes, dividends, salaries, payments to local suppliers and community investments since it started production in 2010.

We will presumably get a further update on Tongon when Randgold delivers its Q2 results on August 3rd when Bristow himself will also deliver an update to London analysts and media on the company’s overall performance so far this year and its future prospects.  Randgold has, unlike most of the other large global gold miners, managed to keep itself debt free and cashflow positive through maintaing some very strict new mine investment criteria.

Randgold Q1 2017 Highlights

Generally the Q1 figures this year were better than Q1 2016 in terms of production, revenue and costs, but down on the record Q4 2016.  The quarterly highlights as reported by the company were as follows:

BUILDING ON LAST YEAR’S RECORD RESULTS, RANDGOLD MAKES STRONG START TO 2017 – Q1 results
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS FOR THE Q1 ENDED 31 MARCH 2017• Gold production up 10% on corresponding quarter of prior year and down 15% on record Q4 2016
• Profit up 33% on corresponding quarter of prior year and down 10% quarter on quarter
• Total cash costs per ounce down 4% on corresponding quarter of prior year and up 13% quarter on quarter
• Cash increases 16% quarter on quarter to $600 million, with no debt
• Another solid operating quarter at Loulo-Gounkoto supported by high recoveries
• Morila tailings retreatment operation starts to deliver on plan and Domba project approved
• Tongon delivers steady performance with good cost control
• Kibali tracks guidance as it works to deliver on underground plan
• Group attributable reserves replaced at higher grade
• Busy quarter for greenfields exploration complemented by good progress on brownfields targets
• Shareholders approve 52% increase in annual dividend to $1.00 per share
Randgold Resources

Thus the company presents the figures in a positive light despite financials down on the previous quarter and cash costs up, although the latter will be partly due to the lower gold output. Net cash available increased to $600 million though which leaves the company well placed to take advantage of any M&A or new development and expansion opportunities without having to resort to borrowing.

Company CEO Mark Bristow is due to present to analysts in London at midday today and undoubtedly we’ll learn more about what is expected for the rest of the year then.

Update on Africa’s biggest gold mine

Randgold Resources, the biggest London listed gold miner by market capitalisation and the 14th largest gold producing company in the world, currently operates the two biggest gold mines in Africa according to consultancy Metals Focus – the Loulo-Gounkoto complex in Mali and Kibali in the DRC – and both are among the world’s Top 20 gold producing operations – See: World Top 20 Gold Miners and Mines.

Last year Loulo-Gounkoto, at No. 13 on the global list, was the bigger producer, but Kibali was experiencing some technical and operational  difficulties which reduced its output a little, but still came in as the world’s 16th largest gold mine by production.  It is currently  putting the problems behind it as its underground operations build up to full output and it should regain its top spot among African gold mines by the end of the current year.

The mine is owned 45% by Randgold, 45% by Anglogold Ashanti, with the remaining 10% by DRC parastatal, Sokimo.  Randgold built the mine – located in one of the most remote areas of the African continent close to the DRC’s north eastern border with South Sudan – and operates it.

The company’s latest statement on the mine and its progress is published here in full, but note CEO Mark Bristow’s warning about possible DRC governmental goalpost-moving on the country’s mining code:

KIBALI HEADS FOR FULL PRODUCTION AS UNDERGROUND MINE NEARS COMPLETION AND SECOND HYDROPOWER STATION IS COMMISSIONED
The Kibali gold mine’s underground operation, which will significantly increase production, is on track to start commissioning in the third quarter of this year, Randgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow said at a media briefing.

The mine is forecast to deliver approximately 610,000 ounces of gold this year, up from 585,000 ounces in 2016, but annual production is scheduled to rise to around 750,000 ounces from 2018, when the underground operation will make it fully functional.

Bristow noted that Kibali ended 2016 with a creditable performance after having to contend with a range of operational challenges as well as the constraints imposed by limited open pit mining flexibility.  In addition to dealing with these issues, the Kibali team succeeded in keeping the underground development on track, successfully constructing and commissioning four ultrafine grind mills in the metallurgy circuit, as well as progressing work on the mine’s second new hydropower station which was commissioned in February this year.  The third and last of the new hydropower stations is currently being built by an all-Congolese contracting group.

“Kibali has stayed on course to become one of the world’s great gold mines despite the challenges of last year and the volatile political climate in the DRC at present,” he said.

“Randgold remains committed to the DRC and is confident that its government, politicians and civil society have the will as well as the capacity to work together to secure the country’s future.  We therefore continue to invest in exploration here and to lead the way in developing the north eastern DRC as a major new gold mining region.  Our engagement with the country and its people is also evident in our substantial investment in local economic development and community upliftment programmes.  These include macro and micro agribusinesses designed not only to provide regional food security but to generate surplus produce for export.”

It was a source of concern, however, that the DRC government had once again signalled its intention of reviewing the country’s 2002 mining code with the clear intention of maximising state revenue, Bristow said.  This could have a very negative impact not only on the mining industry but also on the economy.

“Now more than ever the DRC should be focused on retaining its existing investors and attracting new ones.  It’s certainly not the time to harvest more from less for short term gain.  It’s my sincere hope that this time round the government will engage the mining sector fully in the proposed review to achieve an outcome that will be in the best interests of the Congolese economy as well as the country’s mining sector,” he said.

“The existing code is in fact a good one but it is not always being applied effectively and there are still many mining operations that do not operate under the code.  There are also a number of issues and challenges which mining companies are having to face which make operating in the DRC more challenging.  In Kibali’s case, these issues include more than $200 million in unpaid TVA and duty refunds.”

Randgold Resources: Tough Quarter, Good results

Followers of perhaps the best performing gold mining major of the past few years are directed to the following article I’ve published on the Seeking Alpha website: Randgold: Tough Quarter, Good Results.  Interestingly Randgold (LSE: RRS, NASDAQ: GOLD)’s stock price has not risen nearly as much as some of its peers but that is because of its far better performance while virtually all the other major gold stocks were dropping like stones.  It has no debt, has not needed to take any impairments and is operating a progressive dividend policy where again most of its peers have been slashing their shareholder payments.  It has thus just announced a 10% dividend increase to $0.66 a share.

Highlights from Q1 2016 are as follows:

  • Profits up 19% quarter on quarter and 25% on corresponding quarter of prior year
  • Production down 11% quarter on quarter but up 4% on corresponding quarter of prior year
  • Total cash cost/oz up 3% quarter on quarter but down 8% on corresponding quarter of prior year
  • Cash increases 19% to $253.8 million on the back of reduced total cash costs and higher gold price
  • Solid quarter from Loulo-Gounkoto with production in line with plan and significant decrease in total cash cost/oz
  • Morila delivers steady performance with lower costs
  • Tongon production impacted by quaternary crushers commissioning and power supply interruptions
  • Kibali completes challenging quarter including optimising 100% sulphide feed, compounded by mill downtime
  • New Moku JV adds 1 275km2 to Randgold exploration portfolio in same greenstone belt as Kibali
  • West African exploration programmes deliver positive borehole and trench results
  • Shareholders approve 10% increase in annual dividend of $0.66 per share

In addition to the article on Seeking Alpha linked above, you can download the full quarterly statement at http://www.randgoldresources.com/quarterly-reports-page/3321

Randgold’s Kibali mine in DRC shines in record gold production year

For the record here follows a statement from Randgold Resources noting the success of its new Kibali mine in the DRC, which is already Africa’s biggest gold mine in terms of annual gold output.  Kibali is jointly owned by Randgold and AngloGold Ashanti, each holding 45% with the balance owned by DRC parastatal SOKIMO.  Randgold is the operator.

The Kibali gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo was the star performer in Randgold’s portfolio of operations in 2015, exceeding its target by 7% to contribute 642 720 ounces to the group’s record production for the year.

Speaking at a local media briefing here, Randgold chief executive Mark Bristow noted that the two-year-old operation’s remarkable success was a tribute to an effective cooperative effort which had united the developers, the authorities, the community, the contractors and suppliers in a strong commitment and a common purpose.

“It’s been a significant achievement for a country which is rich in mineral resources but has not always managed to make the most of this endowment.  Kibali is going to make a major impact on the Congolese economy – it has already spent more than $1 billion with local service and goods providers – and I believe it will also be the flagship for the development of a major gold mining industry in this country,” he said.

Bristow cautioned, however, that Kibali was still a work in progress and faced many challenges as it worked towards its completion in 2018, when the underground mine was expected to be fully operational.

“The next two years will be particularly tough, as Kibali continues to ramp up its underground production within the constraints of a lower grade and the consequent need for a higher throughput, and we are therefore forecasting an output of 610 000 ounces for 2016 and 620 000 ounces for 2017,” he said.

“To ensure Kibali’s continued delivery, our partnership with government and the community will if anything have to be strengthened.  For its part, government has to focus on the urgent need to establish an effective local administration, in an area where rapid population growth and the lack of functional structures are generating a complex social dynamic that will become increasingly difficult to deal with.”

Bristow said that despite the stressed gold market, the operational challenges at Kibali and socio-political issues in the DRC, Randgold remained committed to increasing its presence in the country, and had recently entered into a new joint-venture agreement – its third in the region – with government-owned Société Minière de Kilo-Moto SA (SOKIMO) and Moku Goldmines AG (Moku) for the Moku-Beverendi gold exploration project, along the same greenstone belt that hosts Kibali.  In terms of the agreement with the owner of the project, Société Minière de Moku-Beverendi SA, Randgold can earn in a minimum 51% stake in the project by funding and conducting exploration and completing a prefeasibility study.  This addition to its portfolio extends Randgold’s exploration footprint in the DRC to 7 824km², spanning the major gold belt in the north-east of the country.

“Our commitment to expanding our presence and stepping up our greenfields exploration here demonstrates our long term intent of finding world-class gold deposits and developing them into profitable mines, thus contributing to the DRC’s continuing evolution as a democratic society with a robust economy,” Bristow said.

Randgold’s gold mining success story. Dividend increases while its peers are cutting

“Randgold Resources’ (LSE: RRS, NASDAQ: GOLD) operations are strongly placed to generate robust cash flows even at gold prices below current levels and to continue delivering value to all stakeholders”, so says chief executive Mark Bristow in a release on the company’s 2015 annual report published today.

Randgold has arguably been the biggest gold mining success story of the past two decades (It was only established back in 1995 and was first listed in 1997).  It has increased gold production from tiny beginnings to become the world’s 15th largest gold producer (according to consultancy Metals Focus) with an attributable output now of comfortably over 1 million ounces a year.  It now numbers Africa’s two biggest gold mines – Kibali in the DRC and the Loulo-Gounkoto complex in Mali, both of which it built from scratch – among its operations,  All this has been accomplished in a part of the world which some of its major gold mining peers feel is too risky in which to manage significant operations.

At Kibali in particular it succeeded in building a huge gold mine in one of the most remote parts of Africa, close to the DRC’s border with South Sudan, hundreds of miles from both Africa’s east and west coasts and with virtually no local infrastructure – a major logistical exercise in its own right.  And yet it succeeded in bringing the mine on stream ahead of schedule.  It is notable here that although it is in equal partnership with the world’s third largest gold miner, AngloGold Ashanti (both have 45% stakes), the latter ceded construction and operational control to its much smaller partner, presumably because of Randgold’s unparalleled record of building and operating mines in West Africa and its skills in navigating the often troubled political waters of the region.

What the gold mining industry needs, says Bristow, is to make new discoveries, as even a significant rise in the gold price and an injection of fresh capital will at best enable it to clear its debt, but will provide little scope for adding any value or reversing the production decline.  Through its consistent investment in exploration and development Randgold, in contrast, was projecting sustained growth from a solid foundation.

“Our mines have been modelled to generate cash flows at gold prices well below the $1,000/oz level.  Our positive production and cost profiles extend to a 10-year horizon, we have had no impairments or write-downs, and have substantial cash resources.  Our exploration teams are not only replacing the ounces we deplete but are making significant progress in the hunt for our next big discovery.  In fact, we are in a unique position to continue delivering value to all our stakeholders,” he says.

Randgold set a new annual production record of more than 1.2 million ounces in 2015, up 6% on the previous year, while reducing group total cash cost per ounce by 3% to $679.  Strong cash flows from the operations boosted cash on hand by 158% to $213.4 million.  However profit for the year was $212.8 million against the previous year’s $271.1 million, reflecting the decline in the gold price.  The board has nevertheless still recommended a 10% increase in the annual dividend.

Also in the annual report, chairman Christopher Coleman reports that even in the current challenging market, Randgold is not reducing its investment in corporate and social programmes, in line with its philosophy that sustainability is central to all its activities.

“Randgold’s social initiatives extend far beyond the life of its mines.  At all its operations, it is developing ambitious legacy projects designed to provide a permanent source of employment and economic opportunity to these communities.  Based on agriculture, the primary building block of any developing economy, these range from training and funding would-be commercial farmers to a wide spectrum of agribusiness initiatives, many of which are already supplying local markets.  The company is equally mindful of the health and safety of its employees, and it strives constantly to improve an already exemplary record in this regard,” he says.

Contrary to the position of many of its peers, Randgold, as noted above, also reaffirmed its intention to continue to pay a progressive ordinary dividend that will increase or at least be maintained annually.  The board thus proposed the 10% increase in the 2015 dividend to $0.66 per share for approval at its annual general meeting on 3 May 2016.  This is almost unique among major gold miners, most of which have been having to take big impairments in their balance sheets, have been having to cut debt and have been sharply reducing their dividend payments.  Randgold has taken no impairments, has no debt and is raising dividends year on year.

Commenting on this statement, financial director Graham Shuttleworth said that at a time when the gold mining industry was focused on survival, Randgold was able to maintain its dividend policy on the back of last year’s strong performance.  He confirmed that the company still intended to build its net cash position to approximately $500 million to provide financing flexibility for future new mine developments and other growth opportunities.

Randgold Bucking Gold Mining Lower Dividends Trend; Positive Results Despite Falling Gold Price

Article Highlights:

Randgold hits 2015 gold production guidance and reports lower Q4 costs.

Rigid new project investment criteria keep the company profitable, even at lower gold prices.

Dividend raised 10% when many peer companies are making payment cuts.

See latest article on Seeking Alpha: http://bit.ly/1KbSvAo

 

Randgold walks away from Obuasi

In separate announcements issued today Randgold Resouces and AngloGold Ashanti have both stated that Randgold has decided not to proceed with the proposed joint venture to redevelop AngloGold’s Obuasi gold mine – the original Ashanti gold mine – in Ghana.

To recap, on 16 September this year, the two companies had announced their intention to form a joint venture to rebuild the mine, which still has a very substantial good grade gold resource, despite its 118 year mining history.  However, the proposal to undertake this would be, subject among other things to the completion of satisfactory due diligence by Randgold and the agreement of a revised development plan.

Randgold comments that after undertaking its own due diligence exercise into the mine and the redevelopment opportunity the mine affords, and following the work undertaken on the revised development plan, the company has determined that the development plan will not satisfy its own internal investment requirements.  Accordingly, Randgold has decided to terminate the investment agreement entered into with AngloGold Ashanti, with immediate effect.

Randgold and AngloGold have a good history of working together on gold mining projects – initially in Mali – and most recently in what appears to be the very successful building of the totally new Kibali mine in the DRC which is now probably the most productive gold mine in the whole of Africa.  There is a strong synergy between the two companies but obviously this was not strong enough to overcome the Randgold ethos of only developing projects in which it sees a strong return, and obviously Obuasi, with some significant ongoing social and technical problems, did not meet Randgold’s investment criteria, which have meant it has consistently outperformed its peers among the major and mid tier gold miners globally.

Randgold Chief Executive Mark Bristow commented that Randgold remained committed to creating real value for all its stakeholders by continuing to invest substantially in its exploration programmes with their proven record of success as well as by investigating potential growth opportunities presented by the market.

AngloGold noted in its statement that it remains committed to continue with its Limited Operating Phaseat the mine designed to resurrectoperations there at a smaller scale and at  lower cost

AngloGold goesd on to note that this decision follows concerted efforts by both companies to improve the project’s returns and also to secure an appropriate set of consents from the Government of Ghana, within an ambitious timeframe that would have allowed for a feasibility decision on the redevelopment of the mine in early 2016.  Although improvements have been identified, these have not been sufficient to commit to a substantial investment under the prevailing conditions.

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources of Ghana has approved continuation of Obuasi’s limited operating phase during Q1 2016.  Limited operations will be undertaken at reduced cost, compared to 2015, including  maintaining  the operations, security, environmental management, optimising the feasibility study,  as well as ongoing sustainability work.

“We have made a concerted effort to unlock a new opportunity for Obuasi, and the work we have done lays a good foundation for the operation in the long term,” AngloGold Ashanti Chief Executive Officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said. “But in the current environment, we believe it is prudent to conserve our resources and to revisit this opportunity when market conditions improve.”

Randgold sees Tongon gold mine pass major milestone and ups Cote d’Ivoire exploration

Randgold Resources’ world class Tongon gold mine in Cote d’Ivoire has not been without its problems, but even so it has now paid off its shareholders’ loans of $448 million, used to partially fund its capital investment of $580 million, thereby moving it into a dividend-paying position.
Speaking at the mine’s quarterly briefing for local media, Randgold CEO, Mark Bristow described this as a significant achievement, particularly in the context of a global gold mining industry currently characterised by capital write-downs and impairments.
Although Tongon is only Randgold’s third largest mine – after Kibali in the DRC, and Loulo-Gounkoto in Mali – and is still operating below full capacity, it is a very significant gold mine by any standards, and is targeting gold output of  260,000 ounces, at a total cash cost of $820 per ounce,  in the current year.

“Tongon has already paid close to $90 million to the Ivorian state in the form of royalties and taxes and the country will now benefit even more from the dividends the government will receive through its 10% carried interest in the mine as well as the increased revenue when Tongon starts paying full corporate tax at the end of this year,” Bristow said.  He noted that since its commissioning five years ago, Tongon had also contributed more than $600 million to the Ivorian economy in the form of payments to local suppliers and had invested almost $6 million in community upliftment projects.

Bristow has also frequently described Cote d’Ivoire as being a highly prospective country in which to explore for new gold mining operations and has praised the government for its approach to foreign investment in the mining sector which it considers very favourable for attracting new business.
“Ongoing exploration around Tongon has increased its reserves after depletion by 18% since 2009, extending its remaining life by another year.  We also continue to look for more multi-million ounce deposits elsewhere in this highly prospective country, and we are about to launch our biggest-ever exploration drive in Côte d’Ivoire.  This will include a fresh look at the Nielle permit, which hosts Tongon, and a geophysical survey, followed by a diamond drilling programme, across our holdings in the north of the country,” he said.

He also cited Tongon as a particularly good example of the success of Randgold’s policy of recruiting, training and empowering nationals of its host countries to run world-class mines in Africa.  The mine’s workforce is 97% Ivorian and only two members of its management team are not Ivorians.

Bristow also noted that Tongon has won the President’s Award as the best mine in Côte d’Ivoire for two successive years.

Seeking Alpha: DRC’s big Kibali gold mine sustains momentum

Randgold/Anglogold/Sokimo Kibali gold mine is progressing well and is now expected to exceed this year’s planned gold output level of 600,000 ounces – which would make it Africa’s largest gold mine in gold production terms.  To read full article on Seeking Alpha click on:

Big Randgold/AngloGold Kibali Gold Mine Sustains Momentum

Randgold’s promising Cote d’Ivoire gold exploration targets

Randgold Resources CEO, Mark Bristow, has just given a quarterly update to media in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire where the company operates a major gold mining operation – the Tongon mine.  The mine has had some problems which have prevented it meeting its full capacity, but is continuing to make good progress in resolving these.

Bristow likes the mining environment in Cote d’Ivoire where it has a good relationship with the government and he has continued to praise the country’s new mining code which he feels is supportive of those foreign potential mine developers looking to work there.  Consequently he is also focusing some significant gold exploration work on the highly prospective Ivorian geology.

 

Speaking at the company’s quarterly update for local media, Bristow said Tongon’s recovery rate was improving, despite the problems presented by the erratic grid power supply, which management was addressing with the power utility.  Following the commissioning of the new hydrocone crushers, work is continuing in conjunction with the equipment supplier to achieve the design performance level, and it has been decided to upgrade capacity by installing a fourth stage of three additional crushers at the end of the existing circuit.

“Looking beyond Tongon, we’ve stepped up our exploration effort in Côte d’Ivoire on the back of its positive new mining code, and the results are confirming our belief in the high potential of the country’s prospectivity,” he said.

“We’ve taken a fresh look at our Nielle permit, which hosts Tongon, and a number of targets for follow-up have already been generated.  The most exciting suite of new targets is in the Boundiali permit.  These include the very significant new target, Fonondara, and a series of other targets covering a strike of 60 kilometres at the western margin of the Boundiali belt, believed to be an extension of the Syama belt in Mali.  A first-phase diamond drilling programme is currently underway at Fonondara and Sani.”

At Fonondara, six trenches over a 1.5 kilometre strike have exposed a system which averages 16 metres at 2.96g/t.  Drill results beneath the trenches have returned best results of 16.53 metres at 3.38g/t including 7.40 metres at 5.88g/t from the main zone and 8.83 metres at 28.62g/t including 4.10 metres at 61.05g/t in the footwall.  Results from Sani are pending.

On the Mankono permit, a very promising bulk mining target has also been identified, with trenches grading up to 1.8g/t over widths of 100 metres, and on the Fapoha permit, just south of the Nielle permit, three contiguous targets have delivered good initial sampling grades over a 13 kilometre strike with consistently anomalous pits in the target structure grading up to 8g/t.

“We are very encouraged by the government’s commitment to building and diversifying the Ivorian economy, among other things by facilitating foreign investment.  Combined with the country’s geological assets, this is creating new opportunities for the mining industry which Randgold, with its long-established presence here, is particularly well placed to grasp,” Bristow said.

Randgold’s Tongon gold mine on track to meet this year’s target production.

Randgold Resources’ Tongon gold mine in Côte d’Ivoire is on track to achieve its production and cost guidance for 2015 after a year in which its management made significant progress in dealing with the recovery and throughput challenges that had hampered the operation in its early stages, CEO Mark Bristow told a meeting in Abidjan, capital of Cote d’Ivoire.

Although Tongon is smaller than Randgold’s big Kibali gold mine in the DRC and its Loulo-Gounkoto complex in Mali, Tongon is still a major world class gold mine in its own right and its host country’s biggest gold producer.  However it has had to overcome a number of problems since its start-up in 2010 – initially logistical as a result of civil conflict, and then technical, and it has yet to reach its initially planned full gold output potential of around 300,000 ounces a year.  However at long last it does seem to be getting close.

Speaking at the mine’s quarterly update for local media, Bristow noted that the commissioning of its new flotation circuit and the ongoing expansion of the crushing circuit were having the anticipated impact on production and costs, steadily lifting Tongon towards its designed performance level.  The construction of the upgraded flotation circuit is complete and automation and optimisation are underway.  At the same time, Sandvik and Randgold are still jointly working on optimising the crushing circuit upgrade to meet Tongon’s planned production outputs.

Following the recent dry season’s impact on the Ivorian power utility’s power generation capacity, there has been constructive cooperation between the utility and mine to minimise the impact.

The mine is forecasting production of some 260 000 ounces of gold at a total cash cost of $820 per ounce in 2015.  At the current gold price, it should be able to repay its capital this year as scheduled.  In the meantime, continuing exploration has replaced all the reserves consumed by mining in 2014, effectively extending Tongon’s life by another year.

Bristow said that with operational pressure easing, management had been able to advance Tongon’s ambitious social initiatives, designed to develop a sustainable agribusiness as the mine’s economic legacy to the community.  The strategy has two components: an industrial agribusiness to replace the mine after its eventual closure and a community agribusiness based on small farming operations.  Work is underway on the construction of a fish farming project capable of delivering almost 10 tonnes of fish per year, while several women’s market garden projects have already produced their first crops.

In February the Ivorian Prime Minister, Daniel Kablan Duncan, and the Minister of Industry and Mines, Jean-Claude Brou, accompanied by high-ranking officials, visited Tongon, and Bristow said he was heartened by their interest in and support for the sustainability initiatives.

“Ultimately projects like these succeed only when there is a significant engagement by government, at central as well as local level, and when the local community is actively involved,” he said.

To continue building a good working relationship with local businessmen, Tongon hosted an on-site lunch for 35 entrepreneurs from the Korhogo region in March, providing them with an overview of the operation and identifying opportunities for co-operation.

Kibali – already one of Africa’s largest gold mines – going strong

The ongoing search for additional reserve ounces at Kibali will secure its future as a long-life mine and one of Africa’s largest gold producers, Randgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow said in a speech in Kinshasa, DRC.  Randgold develops and operates the mine and has a 45% stake, which it owns in partnership with AngloGold Ashanti (also 45% owners)  and the Congolese parastatal SOKIMO which holds the 10% balance.

In 2014, its first full year of operation, Kibali produced 526,627 ounces of gold at a total cash cost of $573/oz and Bristow told a media briefing here that production and cost for the first quarter of 2015 were likely to be within guidance.

“When you’re producing gold at the rate of around 600,000 ounces per year, the need to replace the reserves that are consumed is of critical importance,” he said.  “We believe Kibali’s KZ structure hosts significant additional resources, and our continuing exploration is confirming this potential.  A number of targets have been identified and the Kalimva-Ikamva and Kanga sud targets have been prioritised for in-depth investigation.”  One suspects that the promising geology around the mine should host sufficient gold resources to keep it in operation well beyond its initial 18 year mine life.

Kibali is still a work in progress, with its third open pit now operational and the development of its underground mine ahead of schedule.  Ore from its stopes is already being delivered to the plant but the underground mine is only expected to be in full production by 2018.  The first of the mine’s three hydropower plants was commissioned last year and work on the second is well underway.  The metallurgical plant is operating at its design capacity and construction of the paste plant is nearing completion.  Despite the high level of production and development activity  –  some 5,000 people are currently employed on site  –  Kibali is maintaining a good safety record, with the lost-time injury rate reduced by 16% last year.

Kibali represents an initial investment of more than US$2 billion and at a gold price of $1,200/oz and its current mine plan is only expected to repay its funding after 2024.  Thanks to its strong cash flow, however, it has already been able to repay the first tranche of its debt in March.  The whole project has been a remarkable success to date, particularly given its location – almost right in the geographical centre of the African continent, close to the South Sudan and Ugnadan borders which necessitated the bulk of the supplies and equipment having to be delivered from the African east coast rather than through the DRC itself.

Bristow said Kibali was continuing to invest in the development of the regional economy by using local contractors and suppliers wherever possible.  A prefeasibility study on a palm oil project, designed to provide a sustainable source of post-mining economic activity for the region, has been completed and work on a bankable feasibility study has started.

On the issue of the DRC’s proposed new mining code, Bristow said he welcomed Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo’s recent statement that the government was ready to re-engage with the mining industry with the intention to review the draft submitted to parliament and was open to further discussions with the sector.

“We were surprised and disappointed when the ministry of mines presented a draft code to parliament without taking the industry’s comments on board and which departed radically from the common ground we thought had been established.  As the DRC Chamber of Mines warned at the time, enactment of the code in this investment-hostile form will have a catastrophic effect not only on the mining sector but on the Congolese economy generally.  It was therefore very heartening to learn from the prime minister that the government has recommitted itself to negotiation,” he said.

Randgold says troubled Tongon gold mine to deliver this year

Randgold Resources’ Tongon gold mine in northern Cote d’Ivoire has been underperforming primarily due to some technical problems, but now, according to the company these problems are behind it and it is now geared to build up to full design capacity this year.  This has involved replacing its crusher circuit and installation of a flotation section which between them should see a boost in mill throughput and an improvement in recovery.  At full capacity Tongon should produce in excess of  260,000 ounces of gold a year – currently it is languishing at around 30,000 ounces or more short of this target.  Even so it has been a profitable, and significant, gold producer and Cote d’Ivoire’s biggest gold mine.  More information should be available with the publication of the Randgold’s Q4 and 2014 results next Monday when company CEO, Mark Bristow, will be presenting these in Cape Town on the sidelines of the big Mining Indaba conference.

Read Randgold’s latest release on Tongon issued today, and set out below

Randgold Resources’ Tongon gold mine is poised to deliver on its designed capabilities in 2015, chief executive Mark Bristow told a media briefing here today.

Bristow said the mine’s management team had spent the past year building a solid foundation for Tongon’s future growth by dealing with some serious technical issues such as the replacement of a faulty crushing circuit and generally improving efficiencies while curbing costs.

“Towards the end of last year the recovery programme was producing signs of improvement in key areas such as throughput and recovery.  By now the beneficial effects of those improvements are real and the full flotation circuit upgrade is on track for completion by the end of the quarter,” he said.

“While ramping up production at Tongon, we’ll also continue working with the Ivorian government in their drive to position the country as a preferred destination for new investment in gold exploration and mining.  Côte d’Ivoire’s new mining code is investor-friendly but it should now be actioned as a matter of urgency.  We’re still waiting for the approval of our new permits that will enable Randgold and Côte d’Ivoire to start reaping the benefits of all the good work that has been done.”

Bristow pointed out that Tongon’s tax holiday ends this year.  At the same time, it is forecast to pay back its capital, which means that the State should start to share in the value created in the form of corporate taxes and dividends, on top of the revenue from royalties and other taxes and duties.