Randgold Resources CEO: Our Industry has to Reinvent Itself
While the price of gold continues to decline, one mining company isn’t worried. Randgold Resources’ CEO Mark Bristow believes the price drop in gold will only strengthen the industry and force companies to formulate new lessons from experiences.
“Our industry has to reinvent itself,” Bristow said in a recent statement. “For 10 years, most companies have placed unrealistic expectations on their shareholders, governments and the countries where they exploit mineral deposits. They’ve acted as if the increase in gold prices was never going to stop.”
According to Bristow, companies who have failed to exercise caution in the past will have a difficult future. “Young companies who targeted small fields or waited too long to get their projects off the ground will go bankrupt. Now with gold, international markets hardly have any money to offer.”
Randgold Gold sold 910,000oz of gold in 2013, generating turnover of $1.3 billion and recording a profit of $326 million. Bristow believes by keeping production costs low, the company is resilient to weakening gold prices.
"We have always maintained a great deal of pressure on costs, not exceeding $950 per ounce of gold produced, whether in West Africa or in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Even if prices drop to $1,000, we will still be profitable," Bristow said.
One of the ways the company has kept costs low is hiring and training local employees. According to the CEO, "There are virtually no expatriates in our mines, as we rely on local employees.”
Randgold’s director for West Africa, Mahamadou Samaké, believes Bristow’s style of business is unlike other mining companies’ and he appreciates it. "In my region, Bristow successfully trained and coached a team of qualified West African professionals. Unlike leaders of big Anglo-Saxon companies, he effectively delegated responsibilities to locals."
The company, which only has seven employees in a small office in the Channel Islands, puts most of its money into ongoing projects. “We have built a solid base in West Africa and in the DRC. In spite of its name, Randgold is not a South African company, even if it is made up of South African executives and we sell our gold to a South African refinery.”
As the largest gold mining firm in Francophone Africa, Randgold Resources has no plans of slowing down production. The company plans to increase its gold production by more than 30 percent in 2014 with promising gold finds in Mali and the DRC.
“Randgold is in good financial standing, we will continue to invest in exploration. We will upgrade our mining portfolio in the next five years. To make this a reality, we have procured 12 licences in Côte d'Ivoire, and we are actively exploring the Ituri region in the DRC, as well southern Mali."
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.