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 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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.