Morila: a lesson and a legacy

The Morila gold mine in Mali is a shining example of how a world-class mineral resource can be optimally exploited to the benefit of all its stakeholders, especially its host country’s government and people, Randgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow said here today.

Speaking at a facility visit for local media, Bristow said over the past 15 years Morila had contributed almost $2 billion to the Malian economy in the form of direct in-country expenditure, including more than $1.1 billion transferred to the government as dividends, duties and taxes.  Today it continues to deliver value through the planned retreatment of the economic portion of the tailings material, which will continue until 2017.  As part of the closure plans, operations to strip the uneconomic portion of the tailings storage facility have begun and the tailings are being deposited back in the pit, helping to clear the surface for rehabilitation.  The possibility of mining the satellite Domba deposit, which could deliver an extra 30 000 to 40 000 ounces, is currently being investigated.

“As closure approaches, we have been stepping up the development of our agribusiness initiative as a sustainable source of economic activity for the local community.  This marks the beginning of a new era for Morila, and it is our hope that, in co-operation with the Malian government and other agencies and interested parties, it could become a legacy to the people who worked here and whohosted our operations,” Bristow said.

A range of well-established agriprojects – including poultry, fish and fruit farming, as well as honey and off-site initiatives with local farmers – is being expanded, and other opportunities, including ecotourism, are being explored.

“Morila’s legacy also extends to the contribution it made to local education and skills development, as well as the infrastructure of water supply, roads and communication it will leave behind,” Bristow says.

“At a time when the mining industry is often depicted as a despoiler of its host countries, the words of Mali’s minister of land affairs are worth noting.  After visiting this site in May, he said: ‘For a long time, closing a mine has been a source of desolation, but this time, with the agribusiness initiative, closing Morila is a new hope.’”