Randgold Resources is in the process of restarting production at its Tongon gold mine in the Côte d’Ivoire this August, Financial Times report quoted the company’s chief executive, chief executive Mark Bristow.
Operations have put on ice in Tongon since July following a series of demands by the local labour union, which the company says is in conflict with the labour laws.
With the backing of the government and national union leadership, Bristow told Financial Times that he was now focused on getting the mine up and running and had started re-hiring Tongon’s workers.”
“We will be up and running, full tilt, by the middle of the month,” Bristow told said, adding, “We’d like to do it quicker but it’s a process.”
Bristow said Randgold should have closed the mine in April when it clashed with unions but had been persuaded by the government to keep negotiating.
Those talks ended in July, after the union made a series of demands that Bristow said the company could simply not afford.
“This is not a social license issue this is a confrontation with a handful of people,” said Bristow. “They wanted a seven month bonus, every year, guaranteed. We said we can’t afford that. It’s not going to happen.”
Tongon accounted for around a fifth of Randgold’s gold production last year. A successful restart is needed if the company is to hit its full-year output target of 1.3m to 1.35m ounces.
Randgold expects Tongon to produce 250,000 ounces of gold this year, down from an earlier forecast of 290,000 ounces.
Mali and the DRC
Over and above the Côte d’Ivoire, Randgold operates mines in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the government is trying to push through a new mining law that could lead to higher taxes and royalty payments.
Bristow said he was confident the international mining companies operating in the DRC would eventually reach an agreement on changes to the law.
“There’s one country [in Africa] where you get a commercial decision more than often not: the DRC,” he said. “They take us seriously when we say we will take them to international arbitration. They don’t need that in their lives. We make a massive contribution to that economy.”
The article has been adopted and edited for African Mining Brief online from a report published by Financial Times .