The Kibali gold mine 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, said Mark Bristow, chief executive, Randgold at a media briefing.According to Bristow, the mine is anticipating a significant increase in production once the final shaft commissioning, which remains on a tight schedule, has been completed. “The only major capital project still in the works will be Kibali’s third new hydropower station, currently being constructed by an all-Congolese contracting team. The availability of self-generated hydropower and the mine’s high degree of mechanisation and automation is an important factor in Kibali’s ability to sustain its profitability throughout the ups and downs of the gold price cycle,” said Bristow. The CEO said to date, over $2 billion has been spent on acquiring and developing the mine, of which the majority has 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 (Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée) refunds, excess taxes and royalties in violation of the country’s mining code, make up the bulk of this amount,” said Bristow. Bristow also noted that 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. Mining in the Congo
The Congolese mining industry has also had to deal with much industry uncertainty particularly the recent re-introduction of a proposed new mining code.The code, which is the same as the one government withdrew in 2015, demonstrated that it would seriously damage and destroy the Congolese mining industry. Bristow said however that Randgold was determined to invest in the country despite these uncertainty. “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,” concluded Bristow.