Despite difficulties, Randgold set to expand Tongon past 4 years

London-listed Randgold Resources (LON:RSS) isn't letting labour unrest including a recent illegal sit-in by workers ruin its prospects for its Tongon gold mine in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

The Africa-focused gold producer said on Sunday it has confirmed "multiple opportunities for extending the life of the operation beyond the current four-year horizon," according to CEO Mark Bristow, who spoke to reporters at the minesite.

Bristow said near-mine targets "with high resource potential" are the primary focus of the exploration program at Tongon. The company ended 2016 with a gold production record for the fourth quarter, and says Tongon is on track to achieve its production guidance of 285,000 ounces for 2017.

“The past year has again been a difficult one as Côte d’Ivoire met further challenges in its nation-building process.  These included a wave of strikes and protest actions which impacted negatively on civil society, the economy and the mining industry. As evidenced by our continuing investment here, however, our belief in the country and in its people’s ability to work through these difficulties remains unshaken,” Bristow said in the news release.

A prefeasibility study on Tongon was completed in 2001 but plans to develop the mine had to be put on hold with the outbreak of civil war the following year.  Work on the project resumed in 2007 and the mine was commissioned in 2010 amidst another political upheaval.

The company has five operating gold mines across west and central Africa.