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Kibali gold mine aims at record output after underground ramp-up

Kibali gold mine. (Image courtesy of Randgold Resources.)

Africa-focused gold producer Randgold Resources (LON:RSS) said Wednesday that production at its Kibali mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was rising steadily on the back of the optimization of its automated underground operation.

The company, which has five operating gold mines across west and central Africa, said Kibali was on track to generate 730,000 ounces of gold this year, representing a 22% increase on 2017’s output of 596,225 ounces.

Speaking at a media visit to the mine, chief executive Mark Bristow said that, following the example of Randgold’s Loulo underground mines, Kibali had successfully transitioned from contract mining to owner mining earlier this month.

Making of Kibali one of Africa’s most automated gold mines cost Randgold over $2.7 billion.

As at Loulo, the move is expected to deliver significant cost and efficiency benefits, while accelerating the transfer of skills to the mine’s Congolese workforce.

“Kibali hosts one of the world’s largest underground gold mines and the aim of owner mining is to give us complete control over the day-to-day operations, with everyone focused on the same goal and compliance with the mining plan,” Bristow said.

The company has introduced what Bristow calls “Africa First” technology at Kibali, particularly in the automation of the underground materials handling system. Randgold is also looking at other technologies that can assists in the optimal development of the asset.

Further, the current commissioning of Azambi, Kibali’s third and last hydropower station, as well as its only remaining significant capital project, is expected to start delivering power into the grid within the next month.

The executive stressed that Randgold remained committed to a future in the DRC, despite the issues around the country’s new mining code.