After nine months of intermittent production caused by illegal strikes and social unrest, the Tongon gold mine returned to normal in the last quarter of 2018 and achieved its revised production target of 230,000 ounces for the year.
Speaking at a media briefing here, Barrick President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow said the Government-endorsed reconciliation agreement between the mine, the employees and the community was designed to create a climate in which operations would run as normal and good relations could be rebuilt.
“This should mark a new beginning for Tongon, and it is significant that the Minister of Mines, Jean Claude Kouassi, visited the mine to sign this agreement in the presence of representatives of all the stakeholders,” he said.
Bristow said Barrick was committed to continuing the Randgold policy of investment in community projects and noted that despite the many challenges it had faced, Tongon had to date spent some $10 million on these initiatives. All eight villages in the mine’s ambit now have primary schools, medical care facilities and potable water, and the development of an agribusiness as a sustainable source of economic activity after the mine’s closure is progressing.
During the year, the mine’s grid power supply was frequently interrupted by the roll-out of the power utility’s new ring circuit, which also impacted production. Bristow said that the situation was much improved after the commissioning of the new circuit and Tongon was looking forward to a more stable supply as well as a more constructive engagement with the utility.
“It’s worth noting that despite its troubled history, Tongon has remained profitable and has continued to pay dividends to its shareholders, including the Government,” Bristow said.
“We are committed to prolong the contribution it makes to the economy and the community by extending the mine’s life. Exploration for additional reserves is continuing around the mine and indications are that this aim is achievable. We are also maintaining our search for new world-class gold deposits in our permit portfolio elsewhere in Côte d’Ivoire.”