The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Mines, Martin Kabwelulu, today officially opened the Kibali gold mine on behalf of the country’s president, Joseph Kabila Kabange, in a ceremony attended by Province Orientale governor Jean Bamanisa Saidi, DRC cabinet ministers, ambassadors of various countries and local dignitaries.
Kibali, which will rank as one of the largest gold mines in Africa when it is in full production, is owned by Randgold Resources and AngloGold Ashanti, each with a 45% stake, and the DRC state gold mining company, Société Miniere de Kilo-Moto (SOKIMO). Kibali is being operated and developed by Randgold, and represents an investment of more than $2.5 billion by Randgold Resources and AngloGold Ashanti.
While still a work in progress – it is both an operating mine and a development project – Kibali produced 88 200 ounces of gold and made a profit from mining, before interest, tax and depreciation, of $68.3 million in the three months to December, its first production quarter. Current production is from its open pit mine and an oxide circuit. Commissioning of the sulphide circuit started during the past quarter and development of the underground mine remains on track with the vertical shaft reaching the halfway mark and the first underground ore accessed. The first of four hydropower stations is currently being commissioned and, with a capacity of 22 megawatt, it is the largest of its kind in the Province Orientale.
Speaking at the opening, Randgold chairman Philippe Liétard said the successful development of Kibali in the face of many infrastructural and other challenges was a triumph for the company’s partnership philosophy.
“Here we have shown what can be achieved in Africa when we all work together: a government that understands the importance of attracting and retaining the investments that are necessary to build a modern economy; two mining companies that believe in sharing the value they create with all their stakeholders, especially the local community; a labour force that is eager to grasp the opportunity of working and learning; and a people who have welcomed us and supported our endeavours,” Liétard said.
Also at the opening, Randgold chief executive Mark Bristow said the successful development of Kibali could herald the birth of a new DRC economic region to rival Katanga Province.
“To achieve that, we cannot rest here. We need to ensure that we deliver the returns expected by the investors who entrusted us with their money. We have to run a profitable mine, focused on long term viability, that pays taxes, and employs and develops citizens from this region and this country. Kibali must become the catalyst that triggers the additional investment required to grow a strong regional economy,” he said.
“Wishful thinking will not make this happen. But if we continue to work together as partners pursuing a common goal – if mining companies, the government and communities cooperate as we did in the development of Kibali – then this dream of greater things will also come true.”
AngloGold Ashanti chief executive Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said that for Kibali’s full potential to be realised it was of the utmost importance that the DRC’s mining code remained supportive of the gold mining sector.
“The government now has an important opportunity to show the world that it is welcoming of gold mining by helping to create what can in a short time become one of the largest gold producers in the world and an engine of growth for this region and this country,” he said.
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