LOULO SENDS FIRST ORE THROUGH ITS MILL

The Loulo gold mine in Mali has fed its first ore through its mill, and the gold inventory is now being built up in the circuit, paving the way for first gold production. Project engineering company MDM is building the plant for Randgold Resources in Mali.

Loulo
The Loulo plant.

Loulo is the second large scale mine that MDM has built with Randgold Resources in Mali – the first being Morila, where first gold was poured in October 2000.

PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION RISKS HAVE INCREASED

These new risks are a result of the global commodities boom and economic expansion. They are a result of increased activity in the construction sector in major developing markets, including South Africa, the primary source of materials and expertise for undertaking mining projects in the region.

One such risk is the escalation in demand for commodities used in mining projects themselves and increases in prices of those commodities. For example, the recently experienced shortage of tyres for large earthmoving equipment globally was a result of the economic boom in China. The price of steel in South Africa has surged dramatically in the last two years owing to the import pricing parity formula used in South Africa, which makes its steel manufacturers among the most profitable in the world. This impacts the cost of implementing projects in the region and causes problems in managing steel price escalation.

FEWER BIG MINING RISKS IN AFRICA, BUT MORE OF THEM

These middle risks are issues such as HIV/AIDS, the lack of transport and communication infrastructure, unclear implementation of legislation, corruption, and social issues such as the presence of artisanal miners. Broadly speaking, while the investment climate in Africa’s mining sector is more favourable than in the past as a result of a better political climate coupled with better mining legislation, the new risks require more management.

“The plus side, however, is that if the management of mining companies do the right things many of these community and socially related risks can be managed,” Cattaneo says. “One can mitigate risks related to changes in regimes by forming good relationships with a variety of stakeholders including the host government, local suppliers and forming joint ventures.”

EXPLOSIVES SALES GROWTH IN WEST AFRICA

Improved mining activity, plus the potential for further expansion of the industry, has not only allowed AEL to achieve encouraging results in West Africa, but is also offering promising new opportunities.

“Apart from our thriving business bases in Ghana and Mali,” says AEL’s international business director, Stuart Wade, “the company is involved in new and existing ventures in Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger and Sierra Leone.”

WEST AFRICAN PORTFOLIO OF PROJECTS PROGRESSES

The Baomahun project in Sierra Leone is considered the company’s flagship asset as exploration results thus far have shown it has the potential to be a multi-million ounce deposit. However, the Kalsaka project in Burkina Faso and the Angovia project in Côte d’Ivoire are more advanced and could be in production sooner.

Following a placing in April 2006 where £15.4 million before expenses was raised with BMO Nesbitt Burns, mainly from US investors, Cluff Gold has sufficient funding to undertake exploration on its projects for at least the next two years.

RANDGOLD RESOURCES’ ROAD FROM JUNIOR TO MID-TIER OPERATOR

In spite of this success and the fact that Randgold Resources has demonstrated its credentials as a sustainable gold producer its path from junior explorer to mid-tier operator has not been a totally smooth one.

About a year or so ago its Loulo project in Mali overtook the established Morila mine, which it shares with AngloGold Ashanti, as Randgold Resources’ most important project. Hence the last thing it needed was the failure of the project contractor MDM, which forced Randgold to take emergency measures that included a court injunction against MDM.

TARKWA TO COMPLETE MIGRATION FROM HEAD LEACH TO CIL

This expansion will see the CIL plant increase its processing design capacity from the current 4.2 million tonnes a year and the mine’s further transition from heap leach processing will take place between 2009 and 2012.

Tarkwa was originally a small underground mine when it was purchased by Gold Fields in the mid-1990s. The company saw that the best route for mining Tarkwa was predominantly as an opencast operation and the underground operation was closed some years later, in 1999. In 2000 some of the assets of the adjacent former Teberebie opencast mine were purchased and merged with Tarkwa, and at the end of 2003 Tarkwa commissioned its CIL plant, having previously been exclusively a heap leach operation. With the expansion of the CIL plant its South heap leach plant, which was the former Teberebie plant, will be shut down, and Tarkwa’s North heap leach plant will taper off but continue to treat the material that is not passed through the CIL plant.

IDUAPRIEM SET FOR ANOTHER 12 YEARS

Iduapriem, the fourth mine, has a reasonable outlook, within the constraints of its 110 km2 mining lease where there is very little exploration upside. Iduapriem mines from two pits and has a projected mine life till 2018. It is carrying out a scoping study on its underground potential. Iduapriem together with Obuasi and the fading operation of Bibiani make Ghana AngloGold Ashanti’s second largest source of production, contributing some 680,000 ounces of gold a year, behind South Africa only.
Iduapriem 1
Iduapriem shares a boundary with
Tarkwa (with Tarkwa to the left and
Iduapriem to the right of the
boundary seen in picture).

Iduapriem, located 300 km from Accra and 85 km from the nearest coastal town of Takoradi, shares a mining lease boundary with Gold Fields’ Tarkwa mine and mines the same 40O to 50O dipping orebody to produce 210,000 ounces of gold a year at a cash cost of just over US$310/oz. Some 24 million tonnes of material is moved a year in the course of mining this open pit operation.

POSITIONING OBUASI FOR THE LONG TERM

When Ghanaian gold producer Ashanti Goldfields decided to merge with AngloGold in 2004 one of the key reasons was a need for capital and technology for Obuasi. That the long term future of Obuasi hinges on its deep level underground potential made it a good fit for a South African-based gold company with such expertise, albeit Obuasi’s orebody is very different to that of the deep level mines in South Africa.

GOLD DISCOVERY IN MALI

Gold mali
Robex exploration for gold in Mali.

Montreal-based Robex Resources, which is undertaking exploration for gold in Mali, has announced the discovery of high grade gold values in 11 pits from the Fandou zone on its Wili-Wili permits, located at the southern extremity of east Mali. The pits are located in the northern centre of an important gold anomaly measuring 2.8 km in length over an average width of 600 metres.

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