Randgold begins gold production at Congo’s $1.7bn Kibali

Randgold Resources’ (LON:RSS) massive Kibali gold project, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has poured is first gold ahead of its original year-end target, CEO Mark Bristow announced Tuesday.

“It has been an enormous feat of geology, metallurgy, engineering and logistics, as well as negotiation and diplomacy, and its success is a tribute to the Randgold team as well as the Congolese authorities, the local community and our business partners, contractors and suppliers,” Bristow said in a statement.

The executive added the mine is expected to comfortably exceed its target of 30,000 ounces this year and meet the forecast of 550,000 ounces for 2014.

Speaking at the annual Denver Gold Forum, Bristow said then industry is not out of the woods just yet. Gold miners, he said, rushed to produce at any cost as the price of gold rose and, due to a lack of investment, have not been able to replace the ore they have mined at the same grade.

"To maintain or increase production when the grade has halved, you have to double your mining and processing capacity, which means that you also more than double your capital and operating costs per ounce,” he warned.

The solution he sees is to “move operations back up the grade curve, which will entail taking out a lot of current production, painful as that may be.”

Kibali is the fifth gold mine the company has delivered to its stakeholders since 2000, when Morila was commissioned. It said the over its lifetime about half of the mine’s profits will go to the Congo in the form of royalties, taxes and dividends.

Randgold and partner AngloGold Ashant have so far spent $1.7bn developing the mine.

Image courtesy of Randgold