After nine months of intermittent production due to illegal strikes and social unrest, Barrick Gold’s Tongon mine in Ivory Coast returned to normal in the last quarter of 2018, achieved its revised production target of 230,000 ounces for the year, down from 288,680 ounces in 2017.
Operations at the mine, which the Canadian gold giant acquired after the merger with Randgold, had to be halted a few times last year, after a local union made a series of demands which the company said broke labour laws.
The gold mine’s grid power supply also suffered from frequent interruption last year as a result of the roll-out of the power utility’s new ring circuit, which also impacted production.
Speaking at a media briefing in the southern Atlantic city of Abidjan, Barrick’s new President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow said the Government-endorsed reconciliation agreement between the mine, the employees and the community was designed to create a climate in which operations would run as normal and good relations could be rebuilt.
“This should mark a new beginning for Tongon, and it is significant that the Minister of Mines, Jean Claude Kouassi, visited the mine to sign this agreement in the presence of representatives of all the stakeholders,” he said in the statement.
Bristow said Barrick was committed to continuing the Randgold policy of investment in community projects and noted that despite the many challenges it had faced, Tongon had to date spent nearly $10 million on these initiatives.
“It’s worth noting that despite its troubled history, Tongon has remained profitable and has continued to pay dividends to its shareholders, including the Government,” Bristow said.
The mine, which produced more than a fifth of Randgold’s total bullion production last year, was originally forecast to produced 290,000 ounces in 2018.