Operations at Randgold Resources’ Tongon gold mine have returned to normal after management lifted the lock-out imposed on workers after a protracted illegal strike.

Negotiations between management, workers, community leaders and the government created an agreement under which workers are being re-employed in phases aligned to the start-up of the mine’s various sections.

The agreement also stipulates that the previous discussions, aimed at finally ending the occasional industrial unrest at the mine, should be resumed where they were interrupted by the strike in July.

During the lock-out period, management, senior employees and a skeleton crew prepared Tongon for resumed production by servicing the processing facilities, including relining the mills, as well as maintaining the tailings storage facility and access to the two open cast operations.

The mine is now fully operational and the phased return of the full employee complement is expected to be complete by the weekend, but the work stoppage has necessitated a revision of its previous production guidance for the year which is now estimated at 230 000 ounces of gold.

Randgold chief executive Mark Bristow says that the company remained a committed partner to Côte d’Ivoire, and thanked everyone involved in the various engagements to get the mine back to full operation.

He said that despite the setbacks at Tongon, the overall group production outlook remained within the guidance given at the start of the year albeit towards the lower end of the range.

This is supported by Loulo-Gounkoto remaining on target and the continued outperformance at Kibali.