Significant exploration successes could extend the life of Tongon, the biggest gold mine in in the Côte d’Ivoire, according to Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow.
Speaking at a local media briefing, Bristow said 10 years after it went into production, Tongon could get a new lease on life thanks to promising results from near-mine exploration campaigns designed to replace the mine’s depleted reserves. In addition to work on the promising Seydou North and Tongon West targets, Tongon has filed the documentation for the extension of its Nielle mining licence by a further 10 years, to add to its life-of-mine.
Bristow said Barrick, through its predecessor Randgold Resources, has been investing in and partnering with Côte d’Ivoire through the country’s many challenges and development stages.
“The successful commissioning of Tongon in the midst of a civil war was a landmark achievement in the development of a gold mining industry in the highly prospective but underexplored Côte d’Ivoire,” Mr Bristow said.
“Since then, the mine has been consistently profitable — it has just declared a US$150 million dividend for the second quarter of this year — and boasts one of the best safety records in the Barrick group. Over time it has invested US$1.77 billion in the Ivorian economy in the form of taxes, salaries, payments to local suppliers and infrastructure developments,” Bristow said.
Tongon has also provided the local villages, located in one of the poorest parts of the country, with access to electricity and new markets through a network of power lines, roads and bridges, built new primary schools and clinics, boosted the development of a regional economy by employing local contractors and suppliers, and prefinanced a number of income-generating projects. Most recently it has provided a surgical unit for the Mbengue clinic.
“A longer life for Tongon means that it will be able to continue creating benefits to share with our Ivorian stakeholders for years to come,” Mr Bristow said.