Randgold Resources has forecast that its Tongon gold mine could produce less gold than originally anticipated for 2018, but adds that it will look to implement processes to recover most of the lost output.
The mine was impacted during the first quarter of 2018 by a series of work stoppages which started with the employees of the mining contractor and then spread to other operations.
Although the mine is now back at to full operating capacity, this will impact on the mine’s production guidance of 290 000 oz for 2018.
To mitigate the downtime effect and lost plant throughput, Tongon processed ore from the run-of-mine and scats stockpiles during the stoppages and also used the opportunity to upgrade parts of the plant to achieve a higher and more consistent throughput going forward.
Chief executive Mark Bristow says the mine’s management had been supported in resolving the situation by the highest level of the government as well as parliament members and local authorities, and, along with the workers and union leadership, these parties had also agreed on a constructive process to workshop solutions and prevent similar issues in future.
It was encouraging to note, he said, that government fully acknowledges the importance of Randgold and Tongon to the Ivorian economy, and the fact that Tongon represents the single largest investment in the country’s mining industry.
“The history of Tongon has reflected the occasionally turbulent socio-political nature of its environment and a misunderstanding of the mining business which is a new activity in the country, but management has dealt effectively with the challenges that have come their way.
The mine is managed by a majority Ivorian team and of its 1 700 employees, only 40 are expatriates. Their record speaks for itself: since it was commissioned in 2010 Tongon has produced 2.7 Moz of gold and in 2017 it posted record results, despite the slow start to the year, Bristow said.
Tongon lifespan coming to an end
“Tongon has three-and-a-half years of life left as things stand but we are actively looking for means to extend this and a number of exciting near-mine opportunities are currently being evaluated by the exploration team. We’re also exploring for new gold discoveries elsewhere in our large permit portfolio in Côte d’Ivoire, where we intend to retain a long term presence.”
At the same time, however, Tongon is planning for life after its eventual closure by developing an economically viable agribusiness to provide replacement income for former workers and the surrounding communities in line with its sustainable development policy.