KINSHASA (Reuters) - Randgold Resources aims to produce first gold from its Kibali project in the remote northeast of Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2013, six months earlier than planned, the company said late on Tuesday.
“The official date is ... 2014, but the challenge that we have given ourselves and all our partners is let’s try and bring it forward six months,” Randgold CEO Mark Bristow told reporters, adding the early start would rely on good state and community relations and early construction.
Randgold’s Kibali project, in Orientale Province, is a joint venture between Randgold and AngloGold Ashanti, which have 45 percent apiece, and state-owned gold company OKIMO.
The site has 13.93 million ounces of measured and indicated gold, according to Randgold, which said capital expenditure was likely to be between $800 million and $1 billion.
“The initial estimate is around $500 million to start the mine,” said Bristow, adding the venture required relocating 3,500 families from the mine, which will combine open-pit and underground mining over its 20 years or more.
The mine is one of a clutch of gold projects in Congo’s turbulent east expected to start producing in the next few years. It will mark a shift from the country’s traditional artisanal supply, most of which is smuggled, and boost official exports by 15 times, according to ministry forecasts.
Congo faces investor action in court cases across the world, after licences were handed to surprise new entrants in mining and oil deals, but Randgold said they were not deterred.
“If you want to hunt elephants, you have to go to elephant country,” said Bristow, emphasising the need to uncover the huge country’s mineral resources, much of which remains untapped.