Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 25 January 2014 - Efficiency enhancement projects at the Tongon gold mine have boosted its performance significantly, and the planned expansion of the flotation process should lift the recovery rate to its feasibility study level, Randgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow said here today. He was speaking at a quarterly media briefing coinciding with a mine visit by international investors.
Bristow said while Tongon had increased production, its recovery rate, while slowly improving, was still struggling to break 80% for the year. An additional 2% was achievable by optimising the existing recovery circuit, but raising the recovery rate to the targeted upper 80s will require an expansion of the flotation process to capture most of the sulphide in the ore. Initial estimates of the cost to expand the float circuit amount to US$12 million. It is targeted for completion by the end of 2014 with a forecast payback period of eight to ten months.
“The standard CIL circuit is not recovering that portion of the gold associated with arsenopyrite which is bypassing the existing flash flotation cells. The original metallurgical testwork indicated that the bulk of the Tongon ore was amenable to cyanidation, with flash flotation in the mill circuit recovering the gold associated with the sulphides. In practice, however, we’ve seen that this process is not recovering enough of the fine gold associated with arsenopyrite. The expansion of the flotation circuit will address this issue by capturing the full spectrum of sulphides,” he said.
In the meantime, Tongon is forecasting production of approximately 260 000 ounces for 2014, which is an increase on 2013’s gold output but slightly behind the internal target.
It has been another challenging year for Tongon but its management has coped admirably with the operational challenges as well as with the need to adjust to the lower gold price. The continued optimisation of the grid power is delivering cost savings, three of the four new Vibracone crushers have been commissioned and the Ivorianisation of the team is making good progress,” Bristow said.
“Looking ahead, we remain fully committed to Côte d’Ivoire, which we believe has great potential for further world-class gold discoveries. We are intent on expanding our footprint in the country but our efforts in this regard are currently being hampered by delays in permit approval. Randgold engaged with the government in its review of the country’s mining code and we are confident that the final draft, which we expect to see soon, will be investor-friendly. We also hope to resolve some outstanding issues related to the government’s delivery on our public/private power supply partnership.”
Bristow noted that, despite the lower gold price, Randgold was also maintaining its commitment to the support of community upliftment projects and the development of the local economy. In the latest such initiative, the company has agreed to provide seed capital and office space to La Premiere Agence de Micro-Financement, Côte d’Ivoire, a micro-lending institution set up to provide loan facilities to emerging entrepreneurs in the Tongon region.