The giant Kibali gold project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is developed and co-owned by gold company Randgold Resources, is steadily nearing the stage where it will start to deliver value to its stakeholders and to support the economic growth of the DRC.

Randgold Resources’ CEO Mark Bristow explained that the Randgold projects team was fully focused on its target of producing Kibalis first bar of gold before the end of this year. He said that at the same time, the operational team who will run the mine is being marshalled. In line with Randgolds philosophy of local employment and empowerment, Kibalis general manager and most of its senior managers will all be Congolese nationals.

We are not just building a world-class mine here, weve also expanded and upgraded the regional infrastructure, which is already benefiting the Orientale province where Kibali is located. Were also rehousing the local community in a model village which, when it is completed by the middle of the year, will comprise 4 000 new homes with access to water and power, as well as clinics, schools and churches, Bristow said.

When the combined open pit and underground mining operation is running at full capacity, Kibali will be processing 7 million Mtpa of ore to produce around 600 000 ounces of gold, making it one of the largest gold mines in Africa.

Open pit mining is already underway to build up the ore stockpile which currently stands at 600 000 ton. The projects team is also pressing ahead with the underground mine development, and work on the decline and the vertical shaft is progressing rapidly.

Our aim is to develop sustainably profitable mining businesses in partnership with our host countries, and our vision is a long term one. Since acquiring the Kibali project, we have more than doubled its gold reserves through exploration and we continue to hunt for further ounces within the lease area, so that we can replace what we consume through mining. In addition, we are expanding our presence in the DRC through our recent joint venture with Kilo Goldmines, which has given us access to a holding of more than 2 000 km in the prospective greenstone belts in the northeast of the country, Bristow revealed.

He added that Randgold believed that the DRCs Orientale province had the potential to become another Katanga. However Bristow pointed out that to achieve this, the countrys central and regional governments would have to match Randgolds own commitment to its development.

Like many African countries, the DRC has an unhappy history of resource exploitation, first by its colonial masters and then by its own previous governments. Responsibly employed, the DRCs mineral wealth can be the foundation of a strong economy which will be of lasting benefit to the country and all its people, but only if the temptation to harvest this great asset prematurely is resisted. Randgold has already shown its intent by delivering on all its promises, and we trust that Kibalis other stakeholders, notably the government, will do the same, he concluded.