Randgold to market: 'Read my lips'


Randgold to market: 'Read my lips' 
TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Randgold Resources has once again felt the need to inform analysts and investors that the company's Tongon mine in the Cote d'Ivoire is still operating as normal, as ongoing speculation that political instability in the country has affected operations continues to weigh on the Nasdaq- and LSE-listed firm's market value.

“We have told the market in December and in January that we are operating at Tongon, but everyone seems to keep confusing us with [other companies] which have closed their operations down,” CEO Mark Bristow said at a breakfast presentation in Toronto.

Cluff Gold said this week it had halted operations at the Angovia mine and other miners, including Australia's Newcrest, have also had operations interrupted.

Bristow said operations at Tongon, which started up late last year, are continuing normally. “We can manage the situation in the Cote d'Ivoire,” he said.

Randgold has commissioned the second stream at Tongon and will commission the sulphide circuit ahead of mining moving into the hard rock over the next month or so.

The first line of the twin-stream secondary and tertiary crushing circuit will be commissioned in May, followed by the second in August.

The company has three months supply of all consumables on site at Tongon and about four weeks of diesel, Bristow said.

The country has been in turmoil since the disputed November elections, after both Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara claimed victory in the elections. Outtara was internationally recognised as the winner, but Gbagbo, who controlled the army, has clung to power.

But Bristow rejected comparisons between the instability in Egypt and the Cote d'Ivoire.

“Egypt is a political situation that is going to be rewritten, this is one guy that doesn't want to leave,” he said.

Randgold has seen some effects on its day to day operations, including a lot more paperwork after international banks operating in the capital Abidjan closed their doors last month.

The firm has also adjusted its supply chain route, but has its own dam and generates its own power at Tongon, so electricity and water supply disruptions in the country will not affect the operation.

MORILA TAILINGS

Bristow also said that even if Randgold were forced to halt Tongon - which it doesn't expect will happen - the company would still be able to fund its capital requirements on other operations internally.

As well as Tongon, Randgold operates the Loulo mine in Mali and has projects in Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal.

The company also produces gold from the now-halted Morila mine,  where it is processing stockpiled ore.

There are two and a half years of operations left at Morila, and then the company is also looking at putting the contents of the slimes dam back through the processing plant, Bristow said.

"At these gold prices it looks to be an attractive option," he said.

"It will produce another 200 000 oz, but more importantly it will close the mine permanently because we would dump the tailings into the pit."

A MEGA MINE

Randgold has begun mining and stockpiling ore at the new Gounkoto project, a discovery the company made on the same property as its Loulo mine. Gounkoto will make a big contribution to the company's production in Mali by the second half of this year, Bristow said..

"And when you combine Loulo and Gounkoto together what you get is a mega mine with a consistent plus-500 000-oz profile," he commented.

The firm has also begun looking at the potential for underground developmet at Gounkoto and expects to have a prefeasibility study later this year.

At Kibali, Randgold Resources' and AngloGold Ashanti's project in the DRC, work is under way on the final shaft design and geotechnics for the tailings site, ahead of construction beginning in earnest around mid-year.

First production at Kibali is forecast for 2014. 

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