Randgold Resources remains committed to working with the government of Côte d’Ivoire to build a sustainable mining industry in that country.

The company says it will use its Tongon operation as a platform from which to find and develop more world-class gold deposits in the country. This is according to its chief executive Mark Bristow.

He told a media briefing that the current crisis in the global gold mining industry, prompted by the downturn in the gold price, was being exacerbated in Côte d’Ivoire by continuing uncertainty over the country’s mining code. Consequently mining companies were withdrawing from Côte d’Ivoire or delaying or downsizing their projects there.

“Randgold has been in Côte d’Ivoire since the early 90s and in that time we have seen the country face and deal with some major challenges. The government has already made significant progress in restabilising the country along with the other parties, and we are confident that the country will also weather the storm in the gold market if together we reinforce the partnership between capital, labour and the state and renew our mutual commitment to the long-term development of this industry,” he said.

Randgold was demonstrating its own commitment by upgrading the Tongon operation and stepping up its exploration programmes in the country, Bristow said. He noted that the company had already mobilised on the new exploration permits it had recently been granted by the government.

Turning to Tongon, Bristow said after contending with operational setbacks last year, the mine was steadily improving its performance as the turnaround programme initiated by management started showing results.

Key to the improvement has been the stabilisation of the power supplied by the Ivorian national grid. Tongon’s usage of grid power, a major component of its cost profile, is now nearing planned levels. Several projects to drive costs down, increase mill throughput and improve gold recovery are also currently underway. The first of four new crushers has just been installed and the milling circuit is being upgraded. A gravity concentrate circuit is being installed in the process plant, as well as an intensive leach reactor. In addition, residence time in the concentrate treatment pumpcell section has been increased.

“As a high volume producer, Tongon is particularly sensitive to efficiencies and input costs. Its management is therefore continuing to review every aspect of the business to find further room for improvement,” Bristow said. “Randgold as a whole is well placed to handle the downturn in the gold price, as our business has always been planned to be profitable at lower price levels.”

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