Kibali mine construction start slated for mid-year

Rapid progress on the predevelopment phase of the giant Kibali gold project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)  is paving the way for the targeted mid-year start of mine construction.

A key element of this phase is the relocation action programme (RAP), in terms of which some 15 000 people will move from the mine site into purpose-built housing in the new model village of Kokiza nearby.  Construction of the 3 700 houses needed at Kokiza started in February and families are being offered a choice of four types, each on a 600m² stand.  Also planned for Kokiza are the construction of a commercial centre, a Roman Catholic Church, preparatory and secondary schools, and a hospital.

The implementation of the RAP is supervised by a resettlement working group, made up of elected representatives of the 14 affected villages, the area’s tribal and local authorities, and the central government’s territorial administrator.  It is expected that the first of the 14 villages will be relocated towards the end of the second quarter this year.

The RAP construction programme has been a significant job creator for the local community, and there are currently more than 820 Congolese employed on the project.  Of these, less than 5% are semi-skilled, which means that in addition to being gainfully employed, the rest are receiving valuable on-the-job training.  Wherever possible, materials such as aggregates and timber are being purchased locally.

The development of Kokiza has also required the establishment of a transport infrastructure, and to date, some 50 kilometres of primary roads and 14 kilometres of secondary roads have been built to serve the township.

Kibali, which is situated in the Orientale Province in the north-east of the DRC, is targeting the first full year of production in 2014.  With probable mineral reserves already in excess of 10 million ounces and still increasing, it will rank as one of Africa’s largest gold mines.  Africa’s two leading gold mining companies, Randgold Resources (LSE:RRS) (NASDAQ:GOLD) and AngloGold Ashanti (JSE:ANG) (NYSE:AU) (ASX:AGG) (LSE:AGD) (GhSE:AGA/AAD), each own 45% of the project with the DRC parastatal mining company, Sokimo, holding the remaining 10%.  The mine is being developed and will be operated by Randgold Resources.

Randgold Resources’ chief executive Mark Bristow said Kibali was being developed and would be run in line with the company’s long-established partnership philosophy, which was based on the belief that all stakeholders, including the local community, should benefit from its activities.

“The enthusiasm with which this concept has been embraced by all the parties involved in Kibali has been a significant factor in advancing the project so swiftly and smoothly,” he said.

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