However, to achieve this, government and the mining sector in Côte d’Ivoire need to work together in a committed, long term partnership, says Randgold Resource’s CEO, Mark Bristow.
Mining is already making a big contribution to the country’s economy – to date, Tongon alone has paid almost $1 billion to the state and to local suppliers and contractors – but for its full value-creating potential to be realised it should be integrated into the government’s overall economic and infrastructural planning.
“Côte d’Ivoire needs more Tongons and that means more investment by the mining sector as well as by the government.
“It’s particularly important to encourage exploration, and to maintain a fiscal and operational environment capable of attracting international capital providers and mine developers.
‘The benefits to the country of a growing, sustainably profitable mining industry are huge, and the government needs to think big about cultivating such an important asset,” says Bristow.
“Issues that should be addressed immediately are the increasingly serious problem of illegal gold mining, the granting of permits to companies that lack exploration capacity and expertise and a history of delivering world class mines, and the acceleration of the permitting process,” he continues.
Turning to Tongon’s performance, Bristow says the mine was on track to achieve its 2017 production target of 285 000 ounces of gold at a total cash cost of less than $700 per oz.
Power supply from the national grid remained challenging with the gap between the reliability of the service and its cost growing.
He also notes that Tongon had funded the expansion of the power grid to the amount of $28 million but had as yet received no indication of when and how the state-owned electricity company would reimburse Tongon for its investment.
“Any partnership involves some negotiations and these have always been managed satisfactorily in the course of Randgold’s long and mutually productive relationship with Côte d’Ivoire.
“That’s why we have already invested approximately $100 million in exploration since 1995 and are planning to continue to invest in this country.
“Our exploration programmes are designed not only to lengthen Tongon’s life but also to find new world-class mines in our extensive and exciting portfolio of prospects elsewhere in Côte d’Ivoire.
“For their part, the government should encourage investment by facilitating access to ground for companies that have both the financial strength and technical expertise to expand the industry,” explains Bristow.
“We continue to invest in our people and our community at Tongon, building a legacy of skills and economic opportunities that will long outlive the mine.
Thanks to our policy of employing and up-skilling our host country nationals, Tongon is almost entirely operated and managed by Ivorians.
“In the local community, our education programmes and water supply projects are making a significant contribution to the quality of life and future prospects of the people of Côte d’Ivoire.”
Feature image credit: Randgold Resources