SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
|REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR (g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
|ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934 FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2004|
|TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the transition period from to
Commission file number: 000-49888
RANDGOLD RESOURCES LIMITED
(Exact name of
Registrant as specified in its charter
and translation of Registrant's name into English)
JERSEY, CHANNEL ISLANDS
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
La Motte Chambers, La Motte Street, St. Helier, Jersey JE1 1BJ, Channel Islands
(Address of principal executive offices)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act.
Ordinary Shares, U.S. Dollar ten cent par value per share
(Title of Class)
American Depositary Shares
(Title of Class)
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act.
(Title of Class)
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer's classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the Annual Report.
As of December 31, 2004, the Registrant had outstanding 59,226,694 ordinary shares, par value $0.05 per share.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.
Item 17 Item 18
(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)
Indicate by a checkmark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.
Table of Contents
Glossary Of Mining Technical Terms
GLOSSARY OF MINING TECHNICAL TERMS
The following explanations are not intended as technical definitions, but rather are intended to assist the reader in understanding some of the terms as used in this Annual Report.
Statements in this Annual Report concerning our business outlook or future economic performance; anticipated revenues, expenses or other financial items; and statements concerning assumptions made or expectations as to any future events, conditions, performance or other matters, are "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined under the United States federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from those stated in such statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, those set forth under Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors in this Annual Report as well as those discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report and in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We are incorporated under the laws of Jersey, Channel Islands with the majority of our operations located in West Africa. Our books of account are maintained in U.S. dollars and our annual and interim financial statements are prepared on a historical cost basis in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS. IFRS differs in significant respects from generally accepted accounting principles in the United States, or U.S. GAAP. This Annual Report includes a discussion of the relevant differences between IFRS and U.S. GAAP, and Note 24 to our consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report sets forth a reconciliation from IFRS to U.S. GAAP of net income and shareholders' equity. We have also included in this Annual Report the audited financial information for the years ended December 31, 2004 and 2003 and 2002 of Société des Mines de Morila SA, or Morila SA. The financial information included in this Annual Report has been prepared in accordance with IFRS, and except where otherwise indicated, is presented in U.S. dollars. For a definition of cash costs, please see Item 3. Key Information—A. Selected Financial Data.
Unless the context otherwise requires, "us", "we", "our", or words of similar import, refer to Randgold Resources Limited and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies.
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3. Key Information
A. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following selected historical consolidated financial data have been derived from, and should be read in conjunction with the more detailed information and financial statements, including our audited consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2004, 2003, and 2002 and as at December 31, 2004 and 2003 which appear elsewhere in this Annual Report. The historical consolidated financial data as at December 31, 2001 and 2000 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included in this Annual Report.
The financial data have been prepared in accordance with IFRS, unless otherwise noted. In Note 24 to our audited consolidated financial statements, we present the principal differences between IFRS and U.S. GAAP and a reconciliation of our net income and shareholders' equity to U.S. GAAP.
|*||Reflects adjustments resulting from the sub-division of shares|
The following table lists the components of cash costs for each of the periods set forth below:
1. We have calculated total cash costs per ounce by dividing total cash costs, as determined using the Gold Institute industry standard, by gold ounces produced for all periods presented. The Gold Institute is a non-profit international association of miners, refiners, bullion suppliers and manufacturers of gold products, which has developed a uniform format for reporting production costs on a per ounce basis. The standard was first adopted in 1996 and revised in November 1999. Total cash costs, as defined in the Gold Institute standard, include mine production, transport and refinery costs, general and administrative costs, movement in production inventories and ore stockpiles, costs associated with transfers to and from deferred stripping and costs associated with royalties. We have calculated total cash costs on a consistent basis for all periods presented. Cash cost per ounce is not an IFRS or U.S. GAAP measure. Total cash costs per ounce should not be considered by investors as an alternative to operating profit, net profit attributable to shareholders, operating cash flows or any other measure of financial performance. While the Gold Institute has provided a definition for the calculation of total cash costs per ounce, the calculation of total cash costs per ounce may vary from company to company and may not be comparable to other similarly titled measures of other companies. However, we believe that total cash costs per ounce is a useful indicator to investors and management of a mining company's performance as it provides an indication of a company's profitability and efficiency, the trends in costs as the company's operations mature, a measure of a company's gross margin per ounce, by comparison of total cash costs per ounce to the spot price of gold, and an internal benchmark of performance to allow for comparison against other companies.
2. Under IFRS, we account for our interest in Morila Limited using the proportionate consolidation method, whereby our proportionate share of Morila Limited's assets, liabilities, income, expenses and cash flows are incorporated in our consolidated financial statements under the appropriate headings. Under U.S. GAAP, we equity account for our interest in Morila Limited. This requires that we recognize our share of Morila Limited's net income as a separate line item in the statement of operations, equity income of Morila joint venture. In the balance sheet, we reflect as an investment our share of Morila Limited's net assets. While this results in significantly different financial statement presentation between IFRS and U.S. GAAP, it has no impact on our net income or our net asset value except for any difference between IFRS and U.S. GAAP which relates to Morila.
3. Effective June 11, 2004, we undertook a split of our ordinary shares, which increased our issued share capital from 29,273,685 to 58,547,370 ordinary shares. In connection with this share split our ordinary shareholders of record on June 11, 2004 received two (2) $0.05 ordinary shares for every one (1) $0.10 ordinary share they held. See Item 4. Information on the Company – A. History and Development of the Company.
B. CAPITALIZATION AND INDEBTEDNESS
C. REASONS FOR THE OFFER AND USE OF PROCEEDS
D. RISK FACTORS
In addition to the other information included in this Annual Report, you should carefully consider the following factors, which individually or in combination could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Relating to Our Business
Because we depend upon Société des Mines de Morila SA, and our interest in Morila Limited, for substantially all of our revenues and cash flow, our business will be harmed if Morila's revenues or its ability to pay dividends are adversely impacted.
We hold our ownership interest in Morila through our 50% ownership interest in Morila Limited, which in turn owns 80% of Société des Mines de Morila SA, the direct owner of Morila, or the Morila mine. During 2004, substantially all of our revenues and cash flows were derived solely from sales of gold mined at Morila, and we expect that this mine will continue to provide substantially all of our operating revenue and cash flows for at least the next twelve months. As a result, our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected by any of the following factors:
|•||fluctuations in the price of gold realized by Morila;|
|•||the failure of Morila to produce expected amounts of gold; and|
|•||any disputes which may arise between us and AngloGold Ashanti Limited, or AngloGold Ashanti, with respect to the management of Morila Limited.|
The profitability of our operations, and the cash flows generated by our operations, are affected by changes in the market price for gold which in the past has fluctuated widely.
Substantially all of our revenues and cash flows have come from the sale of gold. Historically, the market price for gold has fluctuated widely and has been affected by numerous factors over which we have no control, including:
|•||the demand for gold for industrial uses and for use in jewelry;|
|•||international or regional political and economic trends;|
|•||the strength of the U.S. dollar, the currency in which gold prices generally are quoted, and of other currencies;|
|•||financial market expectations regarding the rate of inflation;|
|•||actual or expected purchases and sales of gold bullion holdings by central banks or other large gold bullion holders or dealers;|
|•||hedging activities by gold producers; and|
|•||the production and cost levels for gold in major gold-producing nations.|
The volatility of gold prices is illustrated in the following table, which shows the quarterly high, low and average of the afternoon London Bullion Market fixing price of gold in U.S. dollars for the past two years and the first quarter of 2005.
In addition, the current demand for, and supply of, gold affects the price of gold, but not necessarily in the same manner as current demand and supply affect the prices of other commodities. Historically, gold has tended to retain its value in relative terms against basic goods in times of inflation and monetary crisis. As a result, central banks, financial institutions, and individuals hold large amounts of gold as a store of value, and production in any given year constitutes a very small portion of the total potential supply of gold. Since the potential supply of gold is large relative to mine production in any given year, normal variations in current production will not necessarily have a significant effect on the supply of gold or its price.
If gold prices should fall below and remain below our cost of production for any sustained period, we may experience losses and may be forced to curtail or suspend some or all of our mining operations. In addition, we would also have to assess the economic impact of low gold prices on our ability to recover any losses we may incur during that period and on our ability to maintain adequate reserves. Our total cash cost of production per ounce of gold sold was $184 in the year ended December 31, 2004, $100 in the year ended December 31, 2003, and $74 in the year ended December 31, 2002. We expect that Morila's total cash costs will rise as the life of the mine advances, which will adversely affect our profitability in the absence of any mitigating factors.
We may incur losses or lose opportunities for gains as a result of our use of our derivative instruments to protect us against low gold prices.
We use derivative instruments to protect the selling price of some of our anticipated gold production at Loulo. The intended effect of our derivative transactions is to lock in a minimum sale price for future gold production at the time of the transactions, reducing the impact on us of a future fall in gold prices. No such protection is in place for our production at Morila.
To the extent these instruments protect us against low gold prices, they will only do so for a limited period of time. If the instrument cannot be sustained, the protection will be lost. Derivative transactions can even result in a reduction in possible revenue if the instrument price is less than the market price at the time of settlement. Moreover, our decision to enter into a given instrument is based upon market assumptions. If these assumptions are not met, significant losses or lost opportunities for significant gains may result. In all, the use of these instruments may result in significant losses or prevent us from realizing the positive impact of any subsequent increase in the price of gold on the portion of production covered by the instrument.
Because we depend upon Morila, and our interest in Morila Limited, for substantially all our revenues and cash flow, our business may be harmed if the Government of Mali fails to repay fuel duties.
Morila is responsible for paying to diesel suppliers the customs duties which are then paid to the Government of Mali. Morila can claim reimbursement of these duties from the Government of Mali on presentation of a certificate from Société Généralé de Surveillance. During the third quarter 2003, the Government of Mali began to reduce payments to all the mines in Mali due to irregularities
involving certain small exploration companies. The Government of Mali has commenced repayment and during the first quarter 2005 the amount owing Morila was reduced from $17.6 million as of December 31, 2004 to $11.5 million as of March 31, 2005.
If Morila is unable to recover these amounts, its ability to pay dividends to its shareholders would be affected. Our business, cash flows and financial condition will be materially and adversely affected if anticipated dividends are not paid.
Under our joint venture agreement with AngloGold Ashanti, we jointly manage Morila Limited, and any disputes with AngloGold Ashanti over the management of Morila Limited could adversely affect our business.
We jointly manage Morila Limited with AngloGold Ashanti under a joint venture agreement. Under the joint venture agreement, AngloGold Ashanti is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Morila, subject to the overall management control of the Morila Limited board. Substantially all major management decisions, including approval of a budget for Morila, must be approved by the Morila Limited board. We and AngloGold Ashanti retain equal control over the board, with neither party holding a deciding vote. If a dispute arises between us and AngloGold Ashanti with respect to the management of Morila Limited and we are unable to amicably resolve the dispute, we may have to participate in an arbitration or other proceeding to resolve the dispute, which could materially and adversely affect our business.
Our mining project at Loulo, or Loulo Project, is subject to all of the risks of a start-up mining operation.
In connection with the development of the Loulo Project, we must build the necessary infrastructure facilities, the costs of which are substantial. As a new mining operation, Loulo may experience unexpected problems and delays during development, construction and mine-start-up. In addition, delays in the commencement of mineral production could occur, which could affect our results of operations and profitability.
Our mining operations may yield less gold under actual production conditions than indicated by our gold reserve figures, which are estimates based on a number of assumptions, including assumptions as to mining and recovery factors, production costs and the price of gold.
The ore reserve estimates contained in this Annual Report are estimates of the mill delivered quantity and grade of gold in our deposits and stockpiles. They represent the amount of gold that we believe can be mined, processed and sold at prices sufficient to recover our estimated total costs of production, remaining investment and anticipated additional capital expenditures. Our ore reserves are estimated based upon many factors, including:
|•||the results of exploratory drilling and an ongoing sampling of the orebodies;|
|•||past experience with mining properties; and|
|•||the experience of the person making the reserve estimates.|
Because our ore reserve estimates are calculated based on current estimates of production costs and gold prices, they should not be interpreted as assurances of the economic life of our gold deposits or the profitability of our future operations.
Reserve estimates may require revisions based on actual production experience. Further, a sustained decline in the market price of gold may render the recovery of ore reserves containing relatively lower grades of gold mineralization uneconomical and ultimately result in a restatement of reserves. The failure of the reserves to meet our recovery expectations may have a materially adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be required to seek funding from third parties or enter into joint development arrangements to finance the development of our properties and the timely exploration of our mineral rights, which funding or development arrangements may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all.
We require substantial funding to develop our properties. For example, if we ultimately determine that our Tongon project would sustain profitable mining operations, our ability to build a mine at this
site would be dependent upon the availability of sufficient funding. In some countries, if we do not conduct any mineral exploration on our mineral holdings or make the required payments in lieu of completing mineral exploration, these mineral holdings will lapse and we will lose all interest that we have in these mineral rights.
We may be required to seek funding from third parties to finance these activities. Our ability to obtain outside financing will depend upon the price of gold and the industry's perception of its future price, and other factors outside of our control. We may not be able to obtain funding on acceptable terms when required, or at all. Cash constraints and strategic considerations may also lead us to dispose of all or part of our interests in some of our projects or mineral rights or to seek out third parties to jointly develop one or more projects.
We conduct mining, development and exploration activities in countries with developing economies and are subject to the risks of political and economic instability associated with these countries.
We currently conduct mining, development and exploration activities in countries with developing economies, including Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania. These countries and other emerging markets in which we may conduct operations have, from time to time, experienced economic or political instability, in the form of:
|•||war and civil disturbance;|
|•||expropriation or nationalization;|
|•||changing regulatory and fiscal regimes;|
|•||fluctuations in currency exchange rates;|
|•||high rates of inflation;|
|•||underdeveloped industrial and economic infrastructure; and|
|•||unenforceability of contractual rights.|
Any political or economic instability in the West African countries in which we currently operate could have a material and adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
The countries of Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire were French colonies and Tanzania and Ghana were British colonies until their independence in the early 1960's. Each country has, since its independence, experienced its own form of political upheavals with varying forms of changes of government taking place, including violent coup d'etats. However, Côte d'Ivoire, the leading economic power in the region, and once considered one of the most stable countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, has experienced several years of political chaos, including an attempted coup d'etat. In November 2002, a mutiny by disaffected soldiers developed into a national conflict between rebels who took control of the north of the country and Government supporters in the south. An agreement was reached in March 2005 whereby all sides agreed to disarm and new presidential elections for the country as a whole are planned for October 2005.
The conflict in Côte d'Ivoire resulted in us suspending work in the country pending a peaceful solution. As a result, the progress of the Tongon feasibility study has been delayed. We anticipate starting the next phase of the project after the elections in October 2005.
Goods are supplied to Mali through Ghana, Burkina Faso and Senegal. Other supply routes to Mali are, however, functioning. Our operations at Morila have been affected only to the extent of making the supply of diesel more expensive since it now has to be delivered via Togo, which adds additional transportation costs to allow for greater delivery distances.
Also, any present or future policy changes in the countries in which we operate may in some way have a significant effect on our operations and interests. The mining laws of Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania stipulate that should an economic orebody be discovered on a property subject to an exploration permit, a permit that allows processing operations to be undertaken must be issued to the holder.
Except for Tanzania, legislation in these countries currently provides for the relevant government to acquire a free ownership interest, normally of at least 10%, in any mining project. For example, the Malian government holds a 20% interest in Morila SA, and cannot be diluted below 10%, as a result of this type of legislation. The requirements of the various governments as to the foreign ownership and control of mining companies may change in a manner which adversely affects us.
If we are required to change how we account for our interest in Morila Limited in the future to the equity method, any resulting confusion in the investor community could cause persons not to invest in our securities.
Our financial statements have been prepared in accordance with IFRS since our inception as an international company, under which we employ joint venture accounting and proportionately consolidate our interest in Morila Limited's assets, liabilities, income, expenses and cash flows. If we are not permitted to utilize joint venture accounting under IFRS in the future, we would be required to utilize the equity method to account for our interest in Morila Limited, which could cause confusion in the investor community and adversely affect a prospective investor's willingness to invest in our securities. The most likely circumstance under which we would be prohibited from using proportionate consolidation would be if existing accounting policies under IFRS were changed to prohibit proportionate consolidation for joint ventures of this type. Under the equity method of accounting, which is mandatory under U.S. GAAP, we would recognize our share of the company's net income as a separate line item in our income statement and would reflect as an investment our share of Morila Limited's net assets on our balance sheet.
If we are unable to attract and retain key personnel our business may be harmed.
Our ability to bring additional mineral properties into production and explore our extensive portfolio of mineral rights will depend, in large part, upon the skills and efforts of a small group of management and technical personnel, including D. Mark Bristow, our Chief Executive Officer. If we are not successful in retaining or attracting highly qualified individuals in key management positions our business may be harmed. The loss of any of our key personnel could adversely impact our ability to execute our business plan.
Our insurance coverage may prove inadequate to satisfy future claims against us.
We may become subject to liabilities, including liabilities for pollution or other hazards, against which we have not insured adequately or at all or cannot insure. Our insurance policies contain exclusions and limitations on coverage. Our current insurance policies provide worldwide indemnity of $100 million in relation to legal liability incurred as a result of death, injury, disease of persons and/or loss of or damage to property. Main exclusions under this insurance policy, which relates to our industry, include war, nuclear risks, silicosis, asbestosis or other fibrosis of the lungs or diseases of the respiratory system with regard to employees, and gradual pollution. In addition, our insurance policies may not continue to be available at economically acceptable premiums. As a result, in the future our insurance coverage may not cover the extent of claims against us.
It may be difficult for you to affect service of process and enforce legal judgments against us or our affiliates.
We are incorporated in Jersey, Channel Islands and a majority of our directors and senior executives are not residents of the United States. Virtually all of our assets and the assets of those persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may not be possible for you to effect service of process within the United States upon those persons or us. Furthermore, the United States and Jersey currently do not have a treaty providing for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of judgments (other than arbitration awards) in civil and commercial matters. Consequently, it may not be possible for you to enforce a final judgment for payment rendered by any federal or state court in the United States based on civil liability, whether or not predicated solely upon United States Federal securities laws against those persons or us.
In order to enforce any judgment rendered by any Federal or state court in the United States in Jersey, proceedings must be initiated by way of common law action before a court of competent jurisdiction in Jersey. The entry of an enforcement order by a court in Jersey is conditional upon the following:
|•||the court which pronounced the judgment has jurisdiction to entertain the case according to the principles recognized by Jersey law with reference to the jurisdiction of the foreign courts;|
|•||the judgment is final and conclusive—it cannot be altered by the courts which pronounced it;|
|•||there is payable pursuant to a judgment a sum of money, not being a sum payable in respect of tax or other charges of a like nature or in respect of a fine or other penalty;|
|•||the judgment has not been prescribed;|
|•||the courts of the foreign country have jurisdiction in the circumstances of the case;|
|•||the judgment was not obtained by fraud; and|
|•||the recognition and enforcement of the judgment is not contrary to public policy in Jersey, including observance of the rules of natural justice which require that documents in the United States proceeding were properly served on the defendant and that the defendant was given the right to be heard and represented by counsel in a free and fair trial before an impartial tribunal.|
Furthermore, it is doubtful whether you could bring an original action based on United States Federal securities laws in a Jersey court.
Risks Relating to Our Industry
The exploration of mineral properties is highly speculative in nature, involves substantial expenditures, and is frequently unproductive.
Exploration for gold is highly speculative in nature. Our future growth and profitability will depend, in part, on our ability to identify and acquire additional mineral rights, and on the costs and results of our continued exploration and development programs. Many exploration programs, including some of ours, do not result in the discovery of mineralization and any mineralization discovered may not be of sufficient quantity or quality to be profitably mined. Our mineral exploration rights may not contain commercially exploitable reserves of gold. Uncertainties as to the metallurgical recovery of any gold discovered may not warrant mining on the basis of available technology. Our operations are subject to all of the operating hazards and risks normally incident to exploring for and developing mineral properties, such as:
|•||encountering unusual or unexpected formations;|
|•||personal injury and flooding; and|
|•||decrease in reserves due to a lower gold price.|
If we discover a viable deposit, it usually takes several years from the initial phases of exploration until production is possible. During this time, the economic feasibility of production may change.
Moreover, we will use the evaluation work of professional geologists, geophysicists, and engineers for estimates in determining whether to commence or continue mining. These estimates generally rely on scientific and economic assumptions, which in some instances may not be correct, and could result in the expenditure of substantial amounts of money on a deposit before it can be determined whether or not the deposit contains economically recoverable mineralization. As a result of these uncertainties, we may not successfully acquire additional mineral rights, or identify new proven and probable reserves in sufficient quantities to justify commercial operations in any of our properties.
If management determines that capitalized costs associated with any of our gold interests are not likely to be recovered, we would incur a write-down on our investment in that interest. All of these factors may result in losses in relation to amounts spent which are not recoverable.
Title to our mineral properties may be challenged which may prevent or severely curtail our use of the affected properties.
Title to our properties may be challenged or impugned, and title insurance is generally not available. Each sovereign state is the sole authority able to grant mineral property rights, and our ability to ensure that we have obtained secure title to individual mineral properties or mining concessions may be severely constrained. Our mineral properties may be subject to prior unregistered agreements, transfers or claims, and title may be affected by, among other things, undetected defects. In addition, we may be unable to operate our properties as permitted or to enforce our rights with respect to our properties.
Our ability to obtain desirable mineral exploration projects in the future will be adversely affected by competition from other exploration companies.
In conducting our exploration activities, we compete with other mining companies in connection with the search for and acquisition of properties producing or possessing the potential to produce gold. Existing or future competition in the mining industry could materially and adversely affect our prospects for mineral exploration and success in the future.
Our operations are subject to extensive governmental and environmental regulations, which could cause us to incur costs that adversely affect our results of operations.
Our mining facilities and operations are subject to substantial government laws and regulations, concerning mine safety, land use and environmental protection. We must comply with requirements regarding exploration operations, public safety, employee health and safety, use of explosives, air quality, water pollution, noxious odor, noise and dust controls, reclamation, solid waste, hazardous waste and wildlife as well as laws protecting the rights of other property owners and the public.
Any failure on our part to be in compliance with these laws, regulations, and requirements with respect to our properties could result in us being subject to substantial penalties, fees and expenses, significant delays in our operations or even the complete shutdown of our operations. We accrue estimated environmental rehabilitation costs over the operating life of a mine. Estimates of ultimate rehabilitation are subject to revision as a result of future changes in regulations and cost estimates. The costs associated with compliance with government regulations may ultimately be material and adversely affect our business.
If our environmental and other governmental permits are not renewed or additional conditions are imposed on our permits, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.
Generally, compliance with environmental and other government regulations requires us to obtain permits issued by governmental agencies. Some permits require periodic renewal or review of their conditions. We cannot predict whether we will be able to renew these permits or whether material changes in permit conditions will be imposed. Non-renewal of a permit may cause us to discontinue the operations requiring the permit, and the imposition of additional conditions on a permit may cause us to incur additional compliance costs, either of which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Labor disruptions could have an adverse effect on our operating results and financial condition.
All Malian national employees are members of the Union Nationale des Travailleurs du Mali, or UNTM. Due to the number of employees that belong to UNTM, we are at risk of having Morila and Somilo's mining and exploration operations stopped for indefinite periods due to strikes and other labor disputes. Should any labor disruptions occur, our results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected.
AIDS poses risks to us in terms of productivity and costs.
The incidence of AIDS in Mali, which has been forecasted to increase over the next decade, poses risks to us in terms of potentially reduced productivity and increased medical and insurance
costs. The exact extent to which our workforce is infected is not known at present. The prevalence of AIDS could become significant. Significant increases in the incidence of AIDS infection and AIDS-related diseases among members of our workforce in the future could adversely impact our operations and financial condition.
Item 4. Information on the Company
A. HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMPANY
Randgold Resources Limited was incorporated under the laws of Jersey, Channel Islands in August 1995, to engage in the exploration and development of gold deposits in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our principal executive offices are located at La Motte Chambers, La Motte Street, St. Helier, Jersey, JE1 1BJ, Channel Islands and our telephone number is (011 44) 1534 735-333. Our agent in the United States is CT Corporation System, 111 Eighth Avenue, New York, New York 10011.
We discovered the Morila deposit during December 1996 and we subsequently financed, built and commissioned the Morila mine.
During July 2000, we concluded the sale of 50% of our interest in Morila Limited and a shareholder loan made by us to Morila Limited to AngloGold Ashanti for $132 million in cash.
In April 2001, we acquired an additional 29% of Société des Mines de Loulo, or Somilo, under a sale of shares and loan claims agreement with Normandy LaSource SAS for a purchase price of $2 million, which brought our share of Somilo to 80%. Also under this agreement, we acquired loan claims regarding cash advanced to Somilo by Normandy LaSource to fund exploration activities.
We now conduct our operations through:
|•||a 50% interest in Morila Limited; and|
interest in Somilo, which conducts exploration and mine development
activities over the Loulo permit, which contains the Yalea and Loulo 0
deposits. We discovered the Yalea deposit in 1997.
In July 2002, we completed an initial public offering of 5,000,000 of our ordinary shares, including American Depositary Shares, or ADSs, resulting in gross proceeds to us of $32.5 million. These proceeds were used to repay a syndicated term loan and revolving credit facility in November 2002 and for feasibility studies and development activities. In connection with this offering, we listed our ADSs on the Nasdaq National Market.
In September 2002, we completed an exchange offer in which we exchanged substantially all of our outstanding GDSs for ADSs representing a like number of our ordinary shares.
On March 10, 2003, we changed our ADR ratio from two ordinary shares to one ADR, to one ordinary share to one ADR.
On April 16, 2003 we entered into a heads of agreement with Resolute Mining Limited, or Resolute. Under this agreement we gave Resolute a 12 month option to acquire our entire interest in our wholly-owed subsidiary, Randgold Resources (Somisy) Limited, or RRL Somisy, for $6 million, plus a quarterly royalty payment based on the gold price. RRL Somisy owns 80% of Somisy which owns the Syama mine. In addition, Resolute would accept $7.0 million of Syama's liabilities. During the option period, Resolute paid us option fees of $75,000 per month.
On June 13, 2003, Randgold & Exploration sold 1 million of our ordinary shares reducing its percentage ownership in us to approximately 43% as of that date. Randgold & Exploration's current ownership is described under "Item 7 – Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions – Major Shareholders."
In February 2004 we announced that we would develop a new mine at Loulo in western Mali. Construction continued through 2004 and into 2005 and it remains anticipated that the new mine would commence production from open-pit operations during the third quarter of 2005. In addition, the development study on the underground potential to extend the life of the proposed Loulo operation was extended to July 2005 to accommodate the positive drilling results which were obtained from the underground drilling. Our board agreed to increase the drilling budget by $7 million to progress the development study.
In April 2004, Resolute exercised their option to acquire the Syama mine. Resolute has subsequently paid us $6 million in cash and has assumed liabilities of $7 million, of which $4 million owing to ourselves has been settled. The agreement entered into in June 2004 between the parties makes provision for the payment of a royalty by Resolute. At a gold price of more than $350 per ounce, we would receive a royalty on Syama's production of $10 per ounce on the first million of ounces attributable to Resolute and $5 per ounce on the next three million of attributable ounces entered. This royalty payment is capped at $25 million. The Syama mine is still under care and maintenance while Resolute carry out a feasibility study. Accordingly, we did not receive any royalties during the year ended December 31, 2004.
The Companies (Jersey) Law, 1991, or the 1991 Law, places restrictions on our ability to pay dividends. Because of accumulated losses, we have not been able, under the 1991 Law, to make dividend payments. At our annual general meeting, held on April 26, 2004, our shareholders approved a resolution to reduce our share premium account by $100 million. This enabled us to re-organize our balance sheet and has placed us in a position to have the option to pay dividends from our future trading profits. On April 27, 2004, the Royal Court in Jersey, Channel Islands, sanctioned the capital reduction which has now become effective. No capital was returned to shareholders in connection with this adjustment. As a result of the Court approval, accumulated losses of $75 million have been cancelled from our profit and loss account and an amount of $25 million has been transferred to a special reserve which shall be treated as our realized profit and will be available for distribution to our shareholders by way of dividend, return of capital or otherwise and/or for transfer to our profit and loss account to the extent of any accrued losses thereon at any time.
Effective on June 11, 2004, we undertook a split of our ordinary shares, which increased our issued share capital from 29,263,385 to 58,526,770 ordinary shares. In connection with this share split our ordinary shareholders of record on June 11, 2004 received two (2) additional $0.05 ordinary shares for every one (1) $0.10 ordinary share they held. Following the share split, each shareholder held the same percentage interest in us, however, the trading price of each share will be adjusted to reflect the share split. ADR holders will be affected the same way as shareholders and the ADR ratio remains 1 ADR to 1 ordinary share.
Principal Capital Expenditures
Capital expenditures incurred for the year ended December 31, 2004 totaled $69.4 million compared to $6.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2003. As of December 31, 2004, our capital commitments amounted to $25 million, principally for the Loulo Project. This relates to capital expenditures which had been committed and contracted of $17 million and committed but not yet contracted of $8 million. The capital expenditures will be financed out of internal funds and a $60 million project finance loan from a consortium of banks.
B. BUSINESS OVERVIEW
We engage in gold mining, exploration and related activities. Our activities are focused on West and East Africa, some of the most promising areas for gold discovery in the world. In Mali, we own one half of Morila Limited, which in turn owns 80% of Morila SA, the owner of the Morila mine. We also have a mine in the construction phase in Mali, the Loulo mine, and a feasibility stage project in the neighboring country of Côte d'Ivoire, as well as exploration permits covering additional areas in Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Senegal and exploration licenses in Tanzania. As of December 31, 2004, we had declared proven and probable reserves of approximately 2.51 million ounces attributable to our percentage ownership interest in our assets.
Our strategy is to achieve superior returns on equity through the discovery, management and exploitation of resource opportunities, focusing on gold. We seek to discover bulk tonnage shallow gold deposits, either from our own phased exploration programs or the acquisition of early stage to mature exploration programs. We actively manage both our portfolio of exploration and development properties and our risk exposure to any particular geographical area.
The focus of Morila SA's exploration activities is on extending the existing orebody and discovering new deposits which can be processed using the Morila plant. Several areas around the current pit with the potential to yield continuous flat lying mineralization have been targeted for further drilling.
Outside of Morila SA, we hold exploration permits covering 3,000 square kilometers in the Morila region, where we are engaged in early stage exploration work.
In February 2004 we announced that we would develop a new mine at Loulo in western Mali. Construction is in progress and it is anticipated that the new mine would commence open-pit operations in the third quarter of 2005. In addition, a development study has commenced on the underground potential to extend the life of the proposed new Loulo operation. It is anticipated that the underground development study will be completed by July 2005.
The focus of exploration at Loulo is to continue to explore and discover additional mineralized material from the 372 square kilometer permit.
We also own an advanced-stage development project at Tongon, located in Côte d'Ivoire. We have not yet committed to constructing a mine at Tongon. However, our work to date, together with the current gold price environment, indicates that a profitable mine could, subject to the political climate in Côte d'Ivoire, potentially be developed.
Ownership of Mines and Subsidiaries
The Morila mine is owned by a Malian company, Morila SA,. The mine is controlled by a 50/50 joint venture management committee with day-to-day operations being the responsibility of a Malian subsidiary of AngloGold Ashanti.
Under a joint venture agreement between us, we are each entitled to appoint four directors to the board of directors of Morila Limited. AngloGold Ashanti is entitled to appoint one of its four directors as chairman, which position does not possess an additional vote. A quorum of the board for any meeting may only be achieved if at least two directors appointed by each of us are present. We have further agreed that all major decisions involving Morila Limited must be decided upon at the board level on a consensus basis, though under an operating agreement we have agreed to delegate responsibility for and authority regarding the day-to-day operation of Morila to a subsidiary of AngloGold Ashanti. Under the joint venture agreement, if either party wishes to sell its interest in Morila Limited, the other has a right of first refusal regarding that interest.
At March 31, 2005, Morila had been in production for 54 months and in that time had produced approximately 3.3 million ounces at a total cash cost of less than $110 per ounce.
The Loulo Project is owned by a Malian company, Somilo SA, which in turn is owned 80% by Randgold Resources (Somilo) Limited, our wholly-owned subsidiary, and 20% by the State of Mali. Randgold Resources is the operator of the Loulo mine and is managing the construction project.
We target bulk tonnage gold deposits that have the potential to host mineable gold reserves of two million ounces or more.
West Africa is one of the more geologically prospective regions in the World. Lower Proterozoic rocks are known to contain significant gold occurrences and occur in West Africa in abundance. The Birrimian greenstone belts, part of the Lower Proterozoic, which are younger than the Archaean greenstones of Canada, Australia and South Africa, contain similar types of ore deposits along with Birrimian greenstone belts that are located in Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Niger. A significant amount of geological information has been collected by government and quasi-government agencies in West Africa. The region has consequently largely been under-explored by mining and exploration companies using modern day technology. Most of our exploration properties are situated within the Birrimian Formation, a series of Lower Proterozoic volcanic and sedimentary rocks. The West African Birrimian sequences host a number of world class gold deposits and producing gold mines.
Our strategy was initiated before the current entry of our competitors into West and Central Africa and we believe that this enabled us to secure promising exploration permits in the West African countries of Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal at relatively low entry costs.
Only those reserves which qualify as proven and probable reserves for purposes of the SEC's industry guide number 7 are presented in this Annual Report. The reserves are calculated at an average gold price of $375 per ounce over the life of the mine or project.
Morila reserves have been estimated by our joint venture partner, AngloGold Ashanti. The Loulo Project reserves were estimated by us in conjunction with Steffen, Robertson and Kirsten, our independent mining engineers.
Total reserves as of December 31, 2004, amounted to 40.97 million tonnes at an average grade of 3.36 g/t, giving 4.42 million ounces of gold of which 2.51 million ounces are attributable to us. In calculating proven and probable reserves, current industry standard estimation methods are used. The reserves were calculated using classical geostatistical techniques, following geological modeling of the borehole information. The sampling and assaying is done to internationally acceptable standards and routine quality control procedures are in place.
The preferred technique used for estimation was ordinary kriging, and the resources have been converted to reserves by the application of all the necessary economic, mining and metallurgical parameters into a pit optimization algorithm. All reserves are based on feasibility level studies.
Factors such as grade distribution of the orebody, planned production rates, forecast working costs and metallurgical factors as well as current forecast gold price are all used to determine a cut-off grade from which a life of mine plan is developed in order to optimize the profitability of the operation.
The following table summarizes our declared reserves as of December 31, 2004:
|1.||A 10% mining dilution at zero grade and a gold loss of 5% have been incorporated into the estimates of reserves and are reported as mill delivered tonnes and head grades. Metallurgical recovery factors have not been applied to the reserve figures. The approximate metallurgical recovery factors would be 91.5% for the Morila mine and 89.6% for the Loulo project.|
Results of Operations
The following chart details the operating and production results from operations for the years ended December 31, 2004, 2003 and 2002:
Mining Operations - Morila
The Morila mine struggled for much of the year before the commissioning of the plant expansion in September 2004 but completed the year with a very good fourth quarter.
In the first three quarters of the year, gold production decreased due to expected lower grades and the failure to increase tonnage throughput as a result of the delay in commissioning the plant expansion project. Despite this delay, the mine still produced 510,485 ounces at a total cash cost of $184 per ounce. Profit margins decreased from 2003 as a result of increased costs and the production difficulties, but by year-end substantial profits were again being made as higher grade was being accessed in the pit and the plant was functioning to design specification.
We were forced to intervene to assist the operator to identify the problems hampering production and, with our joint venture partner, developed a technical action plan. The implementation of this plan was closely monitored and by the end of the third quarter was starting to achieve the return to design production levels. Following our ongoing dissatisfaction with the way the mine was being operated, a management change was agreed to by the partners whereby the mine would in future be under the direct day-to-day management of a jointly appointed, independent managing director.
During the final quarter of the year, the mine's production exceeded the milestone of 3 million ounces of gold produced since inception and by year-end the mine had produced 3.13 million ounces of gold at a total cash cost of $105 per ounce.
Total cash profit for the year was $89.6 million and dividends of $2.8 million to shareholders were made. The total distribution by Morila to us, including the repayment of our shareholder loans during
the year, amounted to $11 million. The remaining project debt was paid back during the year to the consortium of lending banks as were the remaining shareholder loans. The original gold hedge financial instruments taken out as a funding requirement was also finally delivered into and Morila's production is now totally unhedged and will benefit fully from the gold spot price. At year-end there was an outstanding amount of some $30.9 million to be recovered from the State of Mali in the form of value-added tax repayments and reimbursable fuel duties of which $12.4 million is attributable to ourselves.
A summary of the salient production and financial statistics as well as a comparison with the previous year's results follows:
|(1)||For a definition of cash costs, please see "Item 3. key information – A. Selected Financial Data."|
During the year ended December 31, 2004, an amount of some $17 million was paid to the Malian government in payroll taxes, duties, royalties and dividends and a further amount of approximately $76 million was paid to Malian businesses for goods and services rendered.
Geology, exploration and orebody definition
The Morila permit is situated in the northern portion of the West African craton and is underlain by lower proterozoic (birrimian) meta-sedimentary sequences and large granitoid intrusions. The deposit is located west of a major regional structure known as the Banifin shear zone. The gold mineralization is hydrothermal in origin, is contained within metamorphosed sediments close to a contact with an intrusive tonalite and is hosted within a shallow dipping shear zone referred to as the Morila shear zone (MSZ). The alteration envelope is dominantly characterized by silica-feldspar flooding and the sulfide mineralization consists of arsenopyrite, pyrrhotite, pyrite and trace chalcopyrite. Coarse gold is common.
Exploration efforts at Morila to further define the orebody as well as find new mineralized zones were concentrated in several areas this year:
|•||Exploration of the area peripheral to the north west of the existing pit (MSZ West);|
|•||Drilling of the Samacline target;|
|•||Infill drilling of fringe areas; and|
|•||Exploration of the 200 square kilometers mining lease based on the development of a structurally controlled mineralization model.|
A significant expansion of the mineralized material base was achieved. As a result of the success of the drilling program in the MSZ West area, mineralized material increased by some 750,000 ounces.
A sophisticated grade control and management system is in use to ensure effective selective mining, minimum ore losses and the attainment of the desired feed grade.
Close-spaced reverse circulation (RC) drilling programs have replaced the use of blast hole sampling for grade control wherever possible. The initial RC drill spacing is 20 meters by 20 meters closing up to a grid of 10 meters by 10 meters in areas where ore grade is highly variable.
In order to increase mining efficiencies the grade control and mine planning departments have worked more closely with the mining contractor and have been able to increase mining efficiencies, thus reducing costs.
Ore is selectively stockpiled near the crusher and the planned ore feed grade to the plant is achieved by blending the stockpile ore with directly tipped ore ex-pit.
Mine planning and reserves
The 2003 mine plan was updated during the year. During the first half of the year the Phase 2 pit, which had been developed to optimally exploit the high-grade payshoot to the north-east, was completed and mining carried on exclusively on the Phase 3 pit. Considerable effort was put into mining this pit as quickly as possible to access the high-grade zone which was achieved by the fourth quarter.
Phase 4 pit development has commenced with waste stripping of near surface weathered ore.
Estimated mineable reserves amount to 25.79 million tonnes at a grade of 3.11g/t containing 2.58 million ounces of gold as tabulated below:
|•||Reserves are reported at a gold price of $375/oz (2003: $350/oz).|
|•||Dilution of 10% and ore loss of 5% are incorporated into the calculation of reserves.|
|•||Cut-off grade of 1.4g/t.|
While the gold price at which pit optimization has been run has increased from $350/oz to $375/oz, this has been offset by substantial increases in costs mainly related to increased transport, power and mining costs.
The orebody model has changed as a result of additional drilling in fringe areas and changes in interpretation/methodology. New mineralized material outlined in the MSZ West extension has been converted to reserves and further drilling is planned to bring more into the reserve category. The increased density of drilling has led to the proportion of reserves in the higher-confidence proven category to increase from 41% to 50%.
Based on the current reserves it is estimated that mining activities will cease during 2008 with processing of stockpiles continuing until 2011.
Mining operations are carried out under contract by Somadex, which is a subsidiary of DTP Terrassement, the mining arm of the French construction company Bouygues. Following the negotiation of a partnership agreement which incorporates the principle of sharing the potential savings achieved by the contractor using agreed productivity assumptions and allowing for an agreed return, the mine management played a more direct role in the management of the open pit operation. After a settling down period this partnership started to take effect and by the second half of the year productivities had improved substantially and started to approach what we consider acceptable.
During the year additional fleet comprising 9 CAT 769 35-tonne trucks were brought to site as well as additional excavation equipment in order to assist with waste stripping requirements.
Again following previous attempts, further attention has been given to the optimization of blasting with a view to improving the blast fragmentation and therefore the "mine to mill" project continued with the powder factor being optimized and leading to better fragmentation. The emphasis in mining will now turn to improvements to be made in blast patterns and blast initiation.
Ore processing and metallurgy
The performance of the Morila metallurgical plant was very disappointing in 2004. Not only was the commissioning of the plant expansion delayed until the fourth quarter, but other operational inefficiencies were also not dealt with in a timely manner.
Issues that impacted on production were:
|•||Unstable milling performance which led to coarser than planned grind;|
|•||CIL tank downtime which shortened residence times leading to lower recoveries;|
|•||Poor plant availability caused by unscheduled shut-downs of the pre-CIL circuit;|
|•||Downtime related to tie-ins of the new sections of the plant with the old sections; and|
After intervention by us and by AngloGold Ashanti's senior management, a technical action plan was developed along with a timetable to correct the operational inefficiencies and return the mine to planned performance levels. This plan was implemented by the mine management and closely monitored by the partners resulting in daily tonnages and grades reaching design levels by the end of the third quarter. Completion testing was carried out at the beginning of October with a target rate of more than 500 tonnes per hour at 91% gold recovery. At the end of a nine-day continuous period the plant had successfully achieved an 81.4% grind passing 75 microns at a throughput rate of 516 tonnes per hour and a plant recovery of 92%.
The average milling rate per month for the fourth quarter was 337,000 tonnes per month which is just short of design capacity of the expanded plant. Total tonnage milled in 2004 therefore exceeded that for 2003.
The plant expansion project commenced in the first quarter of 2003 and was designed to increase the plant throughput from its original nameplate 250,000 tonnes per month to as much as 350,000 tonnes per month with the intention of allowing the processing of lower grade ore through reduced costs as a result of economies of scale. This is aimed at ameliorating the increase in unit costs resulting from the forecast grade drop in the later years of the mine life.
After an initial delay in the original planned completion, the project was originally expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2004. However difficulties encountered in the management of the contractor, as well as contributory tie-in problems with the existing plant delayed completion of the project until the third quarter of the year.
The new facilities include a secondary crusher circuit, which allows optimum control of the mill feed size in order to maximize mill circuit throughput. Other facilities to cater for the increase in production include four additional leach tanks, each with 2,500m3 capacity which provide the necessary residence time for maintaining the current high gold recovery levels.
A new cyclone cluster is also being installed to ensure adequate classification at the higher production levels.
The tailings stream is being passed through a new thickener which will reduce discharge cyanide levels.
Manning levels related to permanent and temporary Morila and contractor employees on the mine are as follows:
Contractor employees numbers increased during the year with the start of the plant expansion project in March 2003. The recruitment of labor for the project was controlled for the contractor by the mine using a Malian labor broker. The community development committee assisted with recruitment to ensure access to job opportunities created (195) for local villagers and a fair distribution between villages. The major contractors on the mine are the mining contractor (Somadex), construction contractor (MDM), security contractors (AMM) and catering contractors (ESS).
Performance management, job evaluation and housing systems are operating successfully following implementation. Training courses have been undertaken to ensure these are fully comprehended by the workforce.
Training and development
The Malianization program is now fully integrated with the manpower plan and training and development strategy. The program was enhanced by the introduction of a university scholarship scheme during the year. This scheme is designed to send four Malian students to South African universities to study for undergraduate degrees. Assistance in selecting students to be awarded scholarships was provided by the Ministry of Education and the University of Mali. Three members of staff attended a management development program and three attended the intermediate management development program held in South Africa.
Four expatriate posts were Malianized during 2003 and we are encouraging the mine to accelerate this process as competency based training and development courses are completed.
US AID assisted the mine with a series of cultural diversity courses attended by over 100 employees.
Continued support has been given to schools and clinics in the area, the well-established HIV/AIDS awareness and mosquito control campaigns have been enhanced and the irrigated gardens set up in the villages have been added to by the start-up of a rice-growing project at Morila and Fingola villages.
The Morila community development trust fund of $500,000 became operational early in 2004. The trust fund has as trustees members of the community, mine management and representatives from government ministries and aims to further assist communities close to the mine in the sustainable development of the area.
During 2004 negotiations took place between Morila management and the Morila union, assisted by the national union, on a demand from the union related to a productivity bonus (Prime de Rendement). While management was willing to implement a bonus scheme based on commercial and productivity criteria, the union's demand was viewed by management as unrelated to productivity and excessive to the point of being unrealistic. The negotiations led to a settlement of the issue in November 2004. Although negotiations were difficult and one three-day work stoppage, called by the national union, was experienced in June 2004, they took place in a calm atmosphere and good relations between the union and management were maintained throughout the year.
Negotiations on a mine level agreement to enhance understanding and regulate industrial relations on the mine have restarted at Morila following the settlement of the Prime de Rendement dispute. This agreement is designed to complement and clarify many of the "Rights" and "Interests" outlined in the existing National Mining Industry Collective Agreement that was written in 1985.
Development Projects — Loulo Project
The Loulo mine project is situated in western Mali adjacent to the Falémé River which forms the frontier with Senegal. It is located 350 kilometers west of Bamako and 220 kilometers south of Kayes. Geologically Loulo falls within the Birrimian sequence of the Kenieba inlier. This succession of volcano-sedimentary and clastic rocks contains several major regional shear structures hosting gold deposits such as Sadiola, Segala, Tabakoto and Loulo. Loulo is situated 96 kilometers from Sadiola and approximately 25 kilometers from Segala and Tabakoto.
We own 80% of Société des Mines de Loulo SA (Somilo) and the other 20% is held by the State of Mali. Following an updated feasibility study on the Loulo project in 2003 and a rise in the gold price, our board and the board of Somilo SA approved the development of Loulo. Construction started in May 2004. The early completion of the bulk civil works ahead of the 2004 wet season and the maintenance of the access to site during the rains has facilitated the fast-track development approach to support early gold production in the third quarter of 2005.
Plant design and construction
The preferred comminution route at Loulo is crushing and ball milling, which is the most power-efficient option. The stage crushing circuit is also designed to facilitate much smoother commissioning. The plant layout has been revised to allow access to crushing facilities outside of the plant high security zone, which now only cordons off the milling, gravity, CIL, elution and gold recovery circuits. This set-up facilitates easier maintenance of the crusher plant and minimizes the number of personnel within the high security zone.
Early completion of the main plant civil construction has allowed us to maintain the fast-track development of the project. Production of the main construction supply materials, aggregate, sand and water have been secured for the program. All plant and infrastructure terracing is complete, along with the main civil construction for the first phase of gold production from the oxide material.
The skyline was broken with the erection of the site's three tower cranes. The main tower crane is the largest on the African continent in terms of its ability to carry load at span. The unit can carry a load of up to 15 tonnes at a span of 55 meters from the center of the crane.
Tailings storage facility
The design of the tailings disposal facility has been finalized and this is currently being constructed some six kilometers east of the process plant and site clearance has commenced.
Construction of the additions to the natural weir across the Falémé River close to Loulo have been completed, providing sufficient storage capacity for mining operations. During the dry season the
weir was raised to a maximum of one meter across the 300 meter width of the river. The weir across the Falémé River downstream of the proposed mine water intake is to retain water in the river basin for use in the dry season when the flow of the river stops. The augmentation of the weir was authorized by Direction Nationale Hydraulique (DNH), the Malian water authority and the Senegal River Authority (OMVS), of which the Falémé is a tributary. The weir along with the Garra storage dam and the tailings storage facility are key to Loulo's water management strategy.
Construction of the main mine housing estate is well advanced and occupation of some units has started. The mine administration offices are also nearing completion. Security at the site has been improved with the completion of the main perimeter fence, clearance of the mine perimeter area, the commencement of the mine security force patrol and access control operations.
A separate contractors' camp, which was erected at the start of construction, is still in use.
Loulo is in a remote area where regional infrastructure is inadequate for the development of a mine. In 2004, the upgrading of the access roads to Loulo started. The supply route through Mali and Senegal from the port of Dakar to site is now in good condition. A 27 kilometer laterite-topped road was built from the mine to Kenieti using Somilo heavy equipment and employing local labor and vehicles to carry laterite from borrow pits. Waterway crossings, or drifts, were built with laterite boulders and concrete using local unskilled labor to excavate and pack the boulders into the drifts and to consolidate with a cement and river sand mixture. Two bridges with culvert pipes had to be built to allow access where crossing larger waterways was necessary.
A program to upgrade the 90 kilometers of national road from Sadiola to Kenieti was undertaken. Where trouble spots for the forthcoming wet season were identified, laterite drifts were built. Where necessary, the road was widened and water run-off trenches dug to allow better access for heavy vehicles. Five dams were constructed along this route for use by local villages and for water for further road improvements.
The upgraded and constructed roads remained open during the wet season and enabled the safe passage of vehicles to the mine delivering supplies and construction materials. They also serve to improve access to villages along the route. A five kilometer direct road was built between the mine and Loulo village for the transport of employees and for improved access to the village. This road incorporated one drift and one bridge. A dam was built at the village to retain a supply of water through the dry season. An agreement to recover expenditure on the upgrading and maintenance of the national route from Sadiola to Kenieti from a portion of the Government royalties has been finalized.
The mine will own its power generation facility, which will be operated and maintained by Manutention Africaine, (the Malian Caterpillar affiliate). The generation facility will initially house 15 Caterpillar 3,512 units with a total rated capacity of 18 megawatts. The facility has been designed to accommodate a further six units to allow for expansion. Manutention Africaine is on site and is currently supplying construction power to the site.
In July 2004, the Loulo contract for the mining works was awarded to BCM Mali SA, or BCM, a subsidiary of BCM International Ltd. BCM has extensive mining contracting experience in the West African region garnered since the start of their operations in Ghana in the early 1990s.
BCM started mobilizing their first infrastructure, equipment and personnel to site during October and November 2004. Construction of the workshop facility started in October and has been progressing well with the foundation and the steel construction in place by the end of December 2004. Five Caterpillar 777D trucks and one Caterpillar 5110B excavator were mobilized to site during November 2004 with additional and ancillary plant mobilized during the first quarter of 2005.
UEE, the explosive supplier, started with the construction of their magazine area during November and this work was completed by mid-December.
Clearing and grubbing activities started during the month of November, focusing on the ROM pad area and the Loulo 0 haul road to the ROM pad. Part of the Loulo 0 pit area was cleared in mid-December and after topsoil was removed the first bucket was dug on December 23, 2005, marking the official start of mining operations. The initial focus will be to build up the ROM pad with waste from Loulo 0. By March soft ore from Yalea will be mined and stockpiled to be used for commissioning of the plant in July 2005.
Deep drilling programs carried out during the year as well as shallower infill drilling has lead to a remodeling of both the Loulo 0 and Yalea orebodies. The total mineralized material inventory at Loulo (including satellite pits) now stands at 8.04 million ounces, a significant increase over the 5.32 million ounces declared last year. Ore reserves estimates have been based on pit optimization at a spot price of $375 per ounce and incorporated our hedging structure. Ore reserves have increased from 1.42 million ounces announced last year and now stand at 1.85 million ounces. Proven ore reserves comprise 88% of the total. Reserves are tabulated below.
The workforce will be introduced to plant operations in a training program at the Morila gold plant in the second quarter of 2005. In the selection of potential plant personnel (operation and maintenance) we prepared a list of people from local villages (Djidian-Kéniéba, Loulo, Baboto, Bolibanta, Sakola, Dabara, Sitakili) who were submitted for aptitude testing. These tests were conducted from 24 to 28 December 2004 by a professional agency. Selected personnel will undergo training on site at Loulo prior to further plant training at Morila.
Work is progressing on establishing the process accounting system and the plant operational control templates. Site operational staff are also conducting due diligence on the plant and construction work and a check is being done on the first fill (reagents and stores needed to fill the plant circuit at start-up) requirements as well as the operational spares needs.
Engineering staff on site are geared to monitor the construction process, (particularly with respect to the quality of the work) ensuring that agreed quality standards are maintained throughout the mine and infrastructure construction areas and that stringent safety standards are adhered to.
Work on the structuring and implementation of maintenance planning and working procedures is progressing satisfactorily and will be completed ahead of the startup of the process plant.
The requirements for strategic and capital spares have been analyzed and implemented and orders for some of the longer delivery items have been placed.
Maintenance of the mine construction fleet (roads and ancillaries) continues and improves as more facilities are established. Light vehicle maintenance procedures have been implemented and are working satisfactorily.
A report of water baseline quality data was received from Digby Wells and Associates. The overall quality of the groundwater and surface water is good and indicates that natural background concentrations do not exceed the recommended environmental target guidelines set out by the World Bank. Piezometer levels are checked weekly to provide historical baseline data for the operation.
The annual rainfall (January to December 2004) was 914 millimeters, which occurred over 63 days.
All construction labor used by Somilo SA and MDM were employed by UPS, the site labor broker. UPS is the sole labor broker, having signed a labor supply contract with us. The policy of recruitment used by UPS is to give job priority to the local labor. The 2004 year ended with 660 workers split into 278 for UPS/Somilo and sub-contractors, and 382 for UPS/MDM Ferroman and sub-contractors.
Personnel of BCM (mining) and UEE (explosives) were mobilizing to site at the end of the year. Worker representatives were selected by MDM workforce to hold regular meetings with MDM site management. Despite this, wildcat work stoppages have occurred due to a number of issues. Regular meetings were held between MDM workforce representatives and management to solve these labor issues and the industrial relations climate on site remains stable.
The Loulo mine security contract was awarded to Agence Mali Management (AMM) and a site security force was put in place in early November 2004.
At Loulo, water wells and pumps have been provided to the six villages surrounding the project. A demonstration irrigated vegetable garden has been established to train local farmers in the growing and marketing of vegetables to the project and local markets.
Medical treatment and medical evacuations to Bamako by air have been provided to local villagers throughout the year. Medical supplies have been provided to the Sitakili clinic, logistical needs and other assistance were provided by the project medical and transport teams to enable UNICEF to mount a vaccination campaign in all the villages of the Sitakili commune. The project has built and repaired infrastructure in the local villages and in Sitakili, the main village in the commune, such as septic tanks and water storage facilities for cattle.
Other resources were also applied in the form of a community development manager and a community development officer who were appointed at Loulo during the first quarter of 2004. Beneficial spin-offs accrued to the communities surrounding the Loulo project from the construction of infrastructure. The project has built roads in and around the area, erected a road bridge at Baboto and a weir across the Falémé River. This infrastructure has assisted villagers in many ways, for example to access markets and move their livestock to new pastures.
Industrial relations systems and procedures were drafted during the year in preparation for the start-up of operations during 2005. We give on-going assistance to the contractors building the Loulo mine, to ensure fair treatment and sound relationships are maintained with their employees and their representatives.
As at December 31, 2004 a total of $67.6 million had been spent on the Loulo project, in line with the build-up of construction. This total includes $49.4 million related to the MDM contract, $5.48 million on preliminary and general expenses related to us and associated site costs, $2.02 million on the construction of the weir across the Falémé River and the access roads from Sadiola to Loulo, plus $6.3 million on drilling costs.
Peak funding for the project is forecast to be approximately $89 million. The project is being funded by a $60 million project finance loan from a consortium of banks: Rothschild, SG Corporate and Investment Bank, Absa Bank and HVB Group. The funds are secured over the assets of the project. $35 million of the facility had been drawn at year-end. The balance of the funding is by way of shareholder loans. We are financing the government of Mali's twenty per cent contributory interest and will be reimbursed from cashflows from the operation.
ESS (Eurest Support Services) is established on site providing our catering and accommodation services.
SGS Analabs has been awarded the contract to provide the mine's analytical laboratory services. They are expected to mobilize to site in March 2005. Interim requirements will be met by the Kayes laboratory of SGS Analabs.
With the commencement of construction early in 2004, the key production target is to pour first gold in the third quarter of 2005. The program remains dependent on maintaining access and the timely delivery of equipment to site.
The mine is planned to produce at an estimated average rate in excess of 200,000 ounces per annum from open pit operations.
Loulo underground prefeasibility and development study
The potential for the development of two long-life underground mines exploiting the deep extensions of the orebodies below the open pit reserves at Loulo 0 and Yalea was reinforced during the year. Following the return of good results from drill holes to depths of 500 meters below surface at Yalea and 400 meters below surface at Loulo 0, SRK Consulting completed a prefeasibility study. The results are summarized below:
Based on the above results SRK Consulting concluded that the project has the potential to yield positive results and have recommended that a definitive development study be undertaken. They specifically recommended that an infill drilling program be carried out at both deposits to provide more grade information as well as geotechnical, geohydrological and geothermal data. While several mining methods had been identified, these will be evaluated in more detail to ensure the best mining methods are applied to exploiting the orebody. Economic analysis indicates the sensitivity of the project returns to grade. The opportunity presented through accurately delineating high-grade payshoots will be pursued by the infill drilling program.
We commissioned SRK Consulting to lead a definitive underground development study on the project and this work has now started.
A multi-phase 30,000 meter drilling program has been started at Yalea and Loulo 0 which is aimed at better delineating the high-grade payshoots. The first phase comprising 12,000 meters of drilling has been completed and the orebody modeling has indicated a significant resource increase, most of it at depth and at significantly higher grade than previously modeled.
A budget of $7 million has been approved for 2005.
On-site activities remain suspended within the Côte d'Ivoire as a result of the political unrest within the country. We have maintained a presence there and are capable of recommencing activities without delay when it is safe to do so. A standstill agreement with government exists in the form of a state of force majeure which will continue until the cessation of the current unrest. A senior company delegation visited the country in early May 2005. Our position is that before returning to active exploration it requires:
|•||A return to political stability with a political solution between the opposing parties;|
|•||Security of personnel and equipment; and|
|•||Functioning transport routes and full access to project areas.|
We continue to maintain an office in the main city, Abidjan, and have redeployed senior technical staff to other projects in West Africa.
The prefeasibility study on Tongon was reviewed during the year and confirms the belief that it is a project with substantial value, that can be turned to account rapidly as soon as circumstances allow. In the meantime, the project and evaluation team will update the study preparing for the start of the bankable feasibility study.
The Tongon Project is located in northern Côte d'Ivoire, 628 kilometers north of Abidjan within the 671km2 Nielle permit in central northern Côte d'Ivoire. We have held the exploration permit since November 1996 and have undertaken several exploration campaigns.
A prefeasibility Type 2 study was completed in 2002. Mineralized material amounting to 34 million tonnes at 2.6g/t for a total of 2.89 million ounces was used as the basis for the study and the following parameters applied as a base case:
|•||Strip ratio of 4:1 and cost of $1.28 per tonne mined over the Life of Mine;|
|•||Recoveries of 95% for oxides and 88% for sulfides;|
|•||Life of Mine unit cost of approximately $15 per tonne milled and $190 per ounce cash cost;|
|•||Total Life of Mine capital cost of $85 million;|
|•||Gold price of $300 per ounce flat;|
|•||Côte d'Ivoire royalty of 3% on gold sales; and|
|•||Five year tax holiday.|
A summary of the salient project features as described in the Type 2 study is given below.
The mineralized material estimate is based on 62 drill holes in the target area of which 35 are diamond drill holes (for a total of 6,712 meters) and 27 are reverse circulation holes (for a total of 2,486 meters). Mineralization has been outlined to a depth of 120 meters below surface. The drill spacing is still wide (50 - 100 meters in the southern zone and 150 - 300 meters in the northern zone) and there is still considerable opportunity for further exploration both on extensions to existing ore zones and in identification of additional ore zones within the mineralized corridor
Mining of the Tongon orebodies is envisaged to be by open-pit methods. It is intended that contract mining will be employed.
Metallurgical testwork has been carried out on both the oxide and sulfide ores from the Tongon deposits with the objective of developing a low-cost gold recovery process.
The recovery assumed for the oxide material is 95% and for the sulfide 82%.
A 200,000 tonne per month recovery plant is envisaged for treating the more competent sulfides. This plant will be designed to accommodate 240,000 tonnes per month of the softer oxides in the initial phase of exploitation.
Indications from the metallurgical testing completed to date are that acceptable recovery rates are possible from both the shallow weathered zones and the deeper unweathered zones. Mineralogical investigations indicate that the gold in the deposits is generally fine-grained. The gold in the shallower zones is recoverable by simple milling and CIL treatment, while the gold in the deeper zones is amenable to recovery by flotation and fine grinding of the concentrate followed by CIL extraction.
The conclusion of the prefeasibility Type 2 study was that the project looked sufficiently attractive and should be advanced to the next stage of feasibility studies
Syama Gold Mine - Sold Operation
In April 2003, we entered into an option agreement with the Australian company Resolute Mining Limited, or Resolute Mining, on our interest in the Syama mine in Mali. In terms of the agreement, Resolute Mining had 12 months to conduct a full due diligence on Syama.
On April 5, 2004, Resolute Mining exercised its option to buy our 80% interest in the Syama mine. In terms of the option, we have received $6 million and Resolute Mining has assumed responsibility for liabilities of $7 million of which $4 million was owed to us. We will further receive a royalty of $10 per ounce on the first million ounces of production from Syama and $5 per ounce on the next three million ounces at a gold price of $350 per ounce based on the attributable ounces acquired by Resolute Mining. These monies are not included in the profit attributable to Syama since they are dependent upon the mine being put into production and the gold price being over $350.
We received net proceeds of $8.6 million on the sale and made a profit of $7.1 million.
We have been exploring in Africa and in particular the Birrimian of West Africa for over ten years and have developed a geodynamic model to guide and focus our exploration. The Birrimian sequences of the West African craton are accretionary terrains formed through orogenic collisional events which have developed as a result of plate tectonic processes in the Earth's crust. Gold mineralization and, in particular, multi-million ounce deposits are located within volcano-sedimentary belts exhibiting strong evidence of crustal reworking and a polyphase history of deformation and intrusive activity. The Randgold model has prescribed the areas of focus for our generative work and driven the acquisition of permits and advanced projects in West Africa. Our exploration teams continue to generate and assess new opportunities on the West African craton not only in our priority countries of Mali, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal but also in Ghana and Burkina Faso.
Our exploration activities are focused on the extension of existing orebodies and identification of new orebodies both at existing sites and at undeveloped sites. Once a potential orebody has been discovered, we extend and intensify our exploration efforts to more clearly define the orebody and the potential portions to be mined. We constantly refine our geological techniques to improve the economic viability of prospecting and mining activities.
We employ a multi-disciplinary exploration team to explore and develop opportunities in a phased approach. When we evaluate potential exploration targets, we initially assess the political and economic considerations, including fiscal policies, in addition to geological factors. We only have interests in countries which have satisfactory criteria in this regard and, except as otherwise described in this Annual Report, our management is not aware of any material tax, political, economic or geological considerations which may have a material limitation on our operations in the relevant countries. However, all of these countries are poor and the biggest risk to any mineral project development is political and social instability which would affect mining rights.
We follow detailed procedures in the exploration and evaluation of potential gold mineralization. The first phase involves target generation, including the identification of prospective areas and acquisition of permits. In the second phase of our exploration program, we verify previously identified gold of remote sensing data (i.e. geophysics and landsat). In the third phase, work is focused on detailed follow-up of gold targets fitting our criteria and includes trenching and diamond or reverse circulation drilling.
The final exploratory phase involves definition drilling on a specific mineralized body as part of the feasibility work. The following table summarizes the phases of our exploration process:
Phases Of Exploration
Independent professional laboratories conduct the assaying of our samples. Our standard quality control measures include the use of two sample repeats, a blank and a standard, with each sample batch. We routinely carry out repeat analysis on samples higher than the surrounding baseline and the frequency of these increases on samples indicating a zone of mineralization. We make a monthly cross-check with other commercial laboratories.
We correlate assay results with the geological logs and enter all data into a computer database which we use to model the orebody. An internal consultant carries out this evaluation in conjunction with our project geologist. We use modern geostatistical methods backed up with more classical procedures. Another external qualified evaluation consultant cross-checks the estimates.
We use independent consultants and contractors to carry out due diligence audit and feasibility study work in the various disciplines, including reserve and resource estimates, modeling and mining design, engineering metallurgical evaluation, environmental studies and valuation and corporate finance.
We have various types of permits in Africa in the countries of Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Tanzania, Ghana and Burkina Faso. Operating offices exist in each of these countries. We hold permits either in our own name within affiliated subsidiaries or in joint venture with other parties. Our final equity holding on exclusive exploration permits, should a mine be discovered, varies from 52 to 85 percent. A total of 40 targets, ranging from grass-roots exploration to advanced resource definition, have been identified within these properties and are being explored by us at different levels due to their status and priority and include the evaluation of brownfield opportunities in the Loulo, Morila and Tongon regions and the development of new opportunities in Senegal and Northern Côte d'Ivoire. The following table outlines the status of our permits as of April 30, 2005.
In 2004, exploration activities concentrated on the conversion of mineralized material to reserves and the expansion of the amount of mineralized material at both Morila and Loulo. We continued to expand our presence within the most prospective gold belts of West and East Africa and now have operations in six African countries boasting a portfolio of 115 targets on 8,700km2 of groundholding.
The development of our second mine at Loulo is well underway and exploration continues to add long-term value to the project. Deep drilling on the Yalea orebody confirmed the underground potential of the deposit and the geological model of shear-hosted mineralization as well as the identification of numerous high-grade payshoots which do not always crop out at surface, down to vertical depths of 640 meters. The drilling also closed the gap to the P125 satellite deposit forming a continuous 2.7 kilometer zone of mineralization. In addition to the mineralized material conversion work, new conceptual targets are being drilled and reconnaissance work to the south of Yalea highlights a potential for a further two kilometer strike of mineralization.
At Morila mine, a review of the data is leading to the development of a new model, where it is interpreted that the deposit locates within the high-grade metamorphic core of a contact thermal aureole.
In Senegal, a first phase of reconnaissance drilling was completed on two targets. These identified significant mineralized systems and a pipeline of advanced targets is ready for drilling in early 2005.
Exploration recommenced on two permits in Burkina Faso, Danfora and Kiaka, after an absence of four years. We made our first venture into Ghana and are currently focused on building a portfolio in the country.
Tanzania is another important focus outside Mali and Senegal, where we hold the dominant land position in the Musoma greenstone belt one of the most under explored areas in Tanzania. In the Mara belt we have a focused approach exploring for a known style of mineralization beneath recent cover basalts. Drilling has intersected sulfide-bearing rocks and gold assay results are pending. A new concept has been developed to investigate similarities in banded iron formation hosted gold mineralization to those observed in the Southern Lake Victoria goldfields. Generative work continues to develop this concept and identify further exploration opportunities.
Our portfolio of projects in West and East Africa reflects our business strategy of organic growth through exploration and its overriding objective, which is to build sustainable mining projects with significant returns. This strategy is attested to by its discovery and development track record, which includes the Morila mine and the new Loulo mine under construction, both in Mali, and the three million ounce Tongon project, currently in the prefeasibility stage in the Côte d'Ivoire. We hold a well-balanced portfolio of targets across the various levels of the resource triangle.
The principal focus this year was the conversion of mineralized material to reserves through drill testing of the underground potential of the Yalea and Loulo 0 orebodies as well as infill drilling on satellite deposits and the development of new targets.
At the Yalea deposit a total of 68 diamond drill holes for 39,590 meters have been completed of which 12,000 meters consisted of deep drilling. Results have been received down to a maximum vertical depth of 640 meters returning values of up to 23.97g/t over widths of 3.7 to 52 meters. This includes a plus 800 meter strike length of very high grade averaging 12g/t over a width of 15.6 meters which is open along strike and down dip. These extensions to the orebody will be evaluated during 2005. The deep drilling has confirmed the geological model of shear hosted mineralization and the identification of numerous high-grade payshoots which do not crop out at surface. Drilling also closed the gap with the P125 deposit and confirmed continuous mineralization over a 2.7 kilometer north-south direction. The Yalea orebody is a big mineralized system possessing characteristics similar to multi-million ounce deposits such as Obuasi and Prestea in Ghana. It is still open to depth and along strike.
The new drill data have been incorporated into a new structural study of the orebody and the results show that it is more complex than first thought. A structural contour map has been produced and the grade model superimposed. The results show that:
|•||The Yalea deeps high-grade zone appears to be related to a change in dip of the orebody;|
|•||In the north of the orebody the mineralization appears to be controlled by an apparent south plunging oreshoot which eventually joins the steep dipping high-grade zone further south. Interestingly, the south-plunging oreshoot corresponds to the line of intersection between the north/south trending Yalea shear zone and the northeast trending Yalea – Baboto thrust;|
|•||In the south of the orebody, there appears to be a steep plunging oreshoot which corresponds to a gentle left hand flexure. However, this is based on two drill intercepts; and|
|•||At shallow depths within the Yalea orebody the advanced grade control RC drilling has intersected shallow dipping north plunging oreshoots which correspond to the intersection between the main Yalea shear zone and footwall spays.|
Follow-up surface exploration work along the Yalea structure confirmed continuation of the mineralization southwards for a further two kilometers. Reconnaissance diamond holes were drilled to test the structure and returned encouraging intercepts of 19 meters at 1.4g/t, eight meters at 2.7g/t and five meters at 2.8g/t. Subsequently a detailed dipole – dipole induced polarisation (IP) ground geophysical survey has been completed. Initially six lines over the Yalea orebody were surveyed as an orientation study to geophysically fingerprint the deposit followed by 200 meter spaced lines tested two kilometers to the south. A moderate to good, north-south chargeability anomaly characterizes the Yalea orebody over the six lines surveyed. To the south of the orebody the anomaly disappears but is then seen to redevelop some 600 meters to 800 meters further south for a distance of about one kilometer along a similar north-south trend. This is a prime target for further exploration. One drillhole, YSDH03 drilled in the anomalous area, intersected 1.47g/t over 11 meters from 107 meters and 1.33g/t over 20 meters from 169 meters. The two lines surveyed to the north of P125 do not indicate a continuation to the north-south anomaly, suggesting that the mineralization terminates.
Modeling to the north of Yalea - P125 identified 13 target areas along a 10 kilometer strike length which will be the focus of continued generative work. A diamond hole was completed to test the first of these and intersected multiple zones of mineralization between 85 and 120 meters vertically below surface.
At Loulo 0, an 8-hole diamond drill program completed infill drilling of the Loulo 0 orebody down to vertical depths of 400 meters. Gold mineralization is hosted within a folded and tourmaline altered greywacke. High-grade payshoots of plus 6g/t are associated with brecciated quartz vein stockworks and locate along the axial planes of folds. The orebody is still open at depth and along strike.
In addition to the two main orebodies there are a series of satellite deposits where resources have been defined, namely Loulo 0 West, Loulo 2, Loulo 3, P129 and Baboto, locating within a 12 kilometer radius of the plant site. Definition drilling is required to convert the mineralized material to reserves.
Elsewhere in the Loulo region of western Mali, a heads of agreement has been signed between us and the Cooperative des Orpailleurs de Sitakili. Artisanal gold workings operate over three sub-parallel zones, each measuring three kilometers by 150 meters. Permit applications have been submitted to government authorities, and once these have been approved exploration will start. Gold mineralization is associated with felsic dykes intruding a package of sedimentary rocks along the hinge zone of an antiformal structure. Reconnaissance rock chip sampling has returned gold grades ranging from 5g/t to 19.5g/t. Artisanal gold workings operate over three sub-parallel zones, each measuring three kilometers by 150 meters.
Morila exploitation permit
Exploration has concentrated on the identification of additional ore close to the current pit and the conversion of the mineralized material to reserves. Additionally, drilling of conceptual targets has identified hidden mineralization at depth within shallow dipping structures.
On the western margin a program of 48 diamond drill holes has been completed on the orebody extension to the north-west of the pit with the intention of upgrading this mineralized material to a reserve and incorporating this into a mine plan. Multiple flat lying mineralized zones at depths between 40 and 200 meters were intersected. Better results include: SAN387 – nine meters at 8.37g/t (from 90 meters); SAN394 – five meters at 14.35g/t (from 188 meters); SAN413 – five meters at 21.0g/t (from 40 meters); and SAN421 – eight meters at 13.23g/t (from 43 meters).
At the Samacline target, 850 meters west of the current pit, previous drilling intersected 30 meters at 7.22g/t including five meters at 31.54g/t (SAN487) and four meters at 35.99g/t (SAN270). Mineralization locates within a gentle, north to north-northeast trending antiformal hinge within the main flat lying Morila shear zone. SAM001 the first follow-up hole drilled, confirmed the model and intersected two meters at 18.84g/t (from 283 meters down hole), 10 meters at 3.43g/t (from 482 meters) and seven meters at 4.47g/t (from 485 meters). A further three holes have been completed, (SAM002, SAM003 and SAM007) the results have returned multiple gold intercepts ranging in grade from 0.8g/t to 6g/t and widths of two to 26 meters.
In the Morila region, work to date has not identified an orebody at surface but the presence of in situ gold mineralization, gold anomalism, alteration, prospective host rocks and a structural framework suggests similarities to the setting of Morila.
The Ntiola area locates within the continuation of the Morila – Domba north-west trending structural corridor, while further to the east the Dionkala permit locates in a second sub-parallel north-west trending corridor. At the Ntiola target area 15 RC holes totaling 2,598 meters were drilled. Eleven of these holes were testing IP chargeability anomalies, while the other four tested in situ mineralization. The chargeability anomalies appear to be generated by elevated amounts of pre/syn deformational pyrite and pyrrhotite which lie as plates or needles on the foliation planes within silicified, fine to medium grained clastic sediments and greywackes. The presence of these sulfides may be related to a regional metamorphic event; they are not associated with gold.
The drilling at Ntiola Main confirms the continuation of a mineralized structure of over 600 meters strike length. Intersections in both NTRC3 and NTRC4 indicate the presence of a mineralized structure of up to 40 meters wide. Alteration in this structure appears to be similar to Morila with sulfides on fine biotite filled fractures within heavily silicified medium grained, biotite rich meta-greywackes. These sediments are steeply dipping to the west. Both garnets and andalusite are visible in previously drilled core indicating a high temperature alteration as at Morila. The presence of this structure is highly relevant at a regional scale as it suggests that Morila is not a unique system. Ntiola remains a target for further work.
On the Dionkala permit, structural and geochemical data together with the first vertical derivative magnetic data define a broad dome shaped structure with a potential flat lying core that is within two kilometers of the intrusive contact. Most of the anomalous soil geochemical points appear to plot within a 1 kilometer wide zone parallel to the foliation suggesting anomalism detected to date is focused in a single broad horizon 10 – 12 kilometers long. This together with garnet bearing sediments and patchy fine grained arsenopyrite along biotite rich foliation represents a large system within which a Morila-sized orebody could be present. A program of five RC drill holes totaling 865 meters has been completed to test conceptual targets and confirmed this model but returned weak anomalous gold values.
On the Segala permit, which is part of the OMRD joint venture to the west of Morila, data integration and interpretation have led to the development of a new model for the Nemala target. The target locates in a north-east – south-west structural corridor which deflects around a large granitic intrusion, it is cross cut by north-west and north-south structures and is intruded by dolerites, gabbros and felsic dykes. Mineralization locates in the hinge zone of an anticline with a steep plunge to the northeast, a best intersection of 20 meters at 2.31g/t has been returned from trenching. Work is currently focused on defining reconnaissance drill locations.
The Senegal portfolio includes three permits covering 1,200km2, located within the Sabodala volcano – sedimentary belt in the east of the country. Data integration and interpretation have defined four priority targets, in addition to two which have already been drilled, for reconnaissance drilling during the current field season; Sofia, Kaviar, KB main and Makana 2. On the Tomboronkoto permit at the Tombo target drilling has identified low-grade mineralized material. The target is being placed on hold while additional targets within the portfolio are evaluated.
On the Kounemba permit five holes were drilled at Bambaraya to follow up anomalous soil samples as well as 18 meters at 2.92g/t and eight meters at 4.50g/t in trenches (BBTR002 and 003 respectively) over a strike length of plus 1,500 meters. Two holes intersected encouraging results; BBDH002 24 meters at 1.75g/t of gold (from 24 meters) including 12 meters at 3.17g/t and BBDH004, 300 meters further south intersected five meters at 1.31g/t. Mineralization is associated with quartz tourmaline veins and vein breccias hosted in sheared andesitic volcanics. The prospect lies within a 020o trending segment, which forms a gentle right hand flexure, within a larger north trending shear corridor.
It is thought that dextral movement within the north trending corridor has resulted in dilational opening along the 020o trending segment. Our next round of drilling will be designed to further test this target.
At the Makana 2 target, exploration work has highlighted that a circular soil anomaly is associated with a silicified dioritic intrusive hosting disseminated sulfides and returning a trench intercept of 29 meters grading 1.1g/t. Mineralization is open eastwards but the silicified hill is concealed beneath a laterite cap rock and will be drill tested in the current field season.
The Mandinka target in the north of the permit locates within the main transcurrent shear zone and has been identified from a regional 1,000 meter by 100 meter soil sampling which returned plus 25 ppb gold, N030° trending soil anomaly with dimensions of plus 10 kilometers long (open towards the north beyond the permit boundary) and between 300 meters (in the south) and 1,100 meters (in the north) wide. The highest soil value in the grid is 571ppb. Detailed soil sampling (200 meter by 50 meter) has been completed. The first results have been received and return two prominent north 30o gold anomalies, the first measures 5,000 meters by 500 (plus 50ppb) and the second 3,600 meters by 400 meters (plus 50ppb). The anomaly occurs mainly in erosional windows with incised valleys draining the area.
The lithologies encountered include volcanic and volcano-sedimentary formations of the Mako supergroup (mainly andesites, rhyolites, tuffs) and sedimentary rocks of the Dialle basin (greywackes, argillites, quartzites and gossans) intruded by granites, gabbros and pegmatites.
On the Kanoumering permit, the Sofia target locates along the Tombo-Sofia structural corridor which can be traced from Tomboronkoto in the south for 35 kilometers to Sabodala in the north. The Sofia target is identified by a N30 trending, plus 3 kilometer soil anomaly (>100ppb) at the sheared contact between ultramafic and a foliated tuffaceous andesitic package. Gold mineralization locates within silicified and foliated andesitic tuffs in contact with an outcropping mylonite - jasper zone. Gold is associated with silica-fuchsite-carbonate-pyrite alteration. Trenching highlights a broad, low-grade (+1g/t) envelope of between 18-44 meters within which higher-grade zones of eight meters at 3.9g/t and eight meters at 3.8g/t have been outlined.
The major structures in the Sabodala belt which control the gross geologic architecture are generally sub-parallel to the north-east trend of the belt itself and are interpreted to be old thrusts along which terrane accretion has occurred. Gold mineralization is closely related to a far more subtle set of belt discordant structural corridors which trend north-south especially where they have reactivated the belt parallel structures. This intersection leads to structurally favorable sites for fluid focusing and gold deposition. Exploration will be primarily focused at the intersection of these two structural trends to supply a steady stream of targets with the potential to pass our criterion of plus two million ounces.
We have worked hard over the last year to expand our footprint in the major gold belts of Africa. Our efforts have been rewarded in Tanzania and we now hold the dominant land position in the Musoma greenstone belt, one of the most under explored areas in Tanzania, while in the Mara belt we are exploring for a known style of mineralization beneath recent cover basalts.
Within the Mara greenstone belt, where we are in joint venture with Barrick, induced polarization (IP) geophysical surveys were completed on two permits to test for gold mineralization beneath recent cover basalts on extensions to the structures which host the Gokona, Nyabigena and Nyabirama gold deposits currently being exploited by Placer Dome. The results returned coincident resistivity and chargeability anomalies on both grids with similar magnitudes to those over the Placer Dome orebodies. Dipole IP surveys were carried out over these anomalies to provide additional depth information for the anomalies and allow three dimensional modeling and selection of drill targets. A program of 26 drill holes for a total of 2,208 meters of reverse circulation drilling has been completed.
On the Nyabigena South permit, 11 RC drill holes for 973 meters have been completed over the Mughusi target area, which is the structural extension of Placer Dome's Nyabirama deposit. Two holes tested flat lying reefs hosted by foliated granodiorites; no anomalous gold values were intersected. Four holes tested geophysical targets intersecting granodiorites gneiss and weak finely disseminated pyrite; gold assay results returned no anomalous values. Five holes tested combined geological and geophysical targets intersecting weak anomalous zones (10 meters at 0.07g/t and three meters at 0.91g/t) associated with bands of pyrite, carbonate and silica alteration hosted by granodiorite gneiss. The drilling, albeit very widely spaced, confirmed the geological model and identified a large system of alteration. Results have, however, returned only very weak anomalous values. All the data are being incorporated into a generative study to drive further follow-up programs.
On the Mobrama East permit, 15 RC drill holes for 1,235 meters have been drilled to test two coincident IP resistivity and chargeability anomalies, which locate along the extension to structures hosting Placer Dome's Nyabigena and Gokona deposits. These are conceptual targets due to recent rift basaltic volcanics covering the area. On the eastern anomaly the drill holes intersected moderate amounts of disseminated pyrite (up to 3%) and pyrrhotite (up to 5%) within silicified intermediate intrusives, silicified greywackes and black shales. However, there was no coincident gold mineralization and this program will be completed in the next field season.
In the Musoma belt, early-stage reconnaissance work is underway to understand geological and structural controls on mineralization in order to evaluate and progress targets within the resource triangle. A feature of the most productive belts in Tanzania is their arcuate shape which is especially apparent in the inner and outer arcs which host the Bulyanhulu and Geita deposits respectively. Gold production from Nyabigena, Gokona and Nyabirama in the Mara belt, and Buhemba in the Musoma belt, highlights the prospectivity of this region to host world-class gold deposits. Generative work continues to identify further exploration opportunities.
We recommenced exploration in Burkina Faso. The completion of regional generative models highlighted the southern part of the country as highly prospective. On the basis of this study two permits were acquired, namely Danfora and Kiaka.
The Danfora permit covers a 45km area and locates along the Banfora greenstone belt in the south-west portion of the country. Exploration has highlighted a plus two kilometer long, gold bearing N40º trending shear zone developed along the contact between basalt and volcaniclastics. Detailed field mapping has outlined a plus 60 meter wide zone of mineralization hosted within the basalts and associated with carbonate–silica–sericite–graphite alteration containing disseminated pyrite and pyrrhotite. The host rock, alteration and structural setting are very similar to Syama in Mali. Reconnaissance lithosampling returned grades of between 0.1 and 72.5g/t from quartz veinlets (<5cm) and associated altered basalts with an average grade of 4.2g/t for the 60 samples collected. A five hole reconnaissance diamond drill program was completed at the Moussobadougou 1 target. The holes
confirmed the continuity of a 60 to 80 meter wide zone of shearing and strong alteration at the contact between basalts and volcaniclastics. Within this zone multiple gold intercepts from two to 14 meters in thickness and grades from 0.62g/t to 9.45g/t occur.
The Kiaka permit, located in the southeast of the country is at an early stage of exploration. To date mapping and rock sampling have been completed. The results include 38 samples with values ranging from 1g/t to 77g/t and averaging 8.3g/t, 19 of these results are from quartz material (average grade 7.33g/t) and 19 from host rock (average grade 9.3g/t), the host rock consists of strongly foliated biotite rich schists containing disseminated arsenopyrite and pyrite, the rocks are very similar in appearance to the host rocks at Morila, but the foliation is sub-vertical. The mineralized zone presently extends for more than 2.5 kilometers and modeling is underway to prioritize drill locations.
A partnership has been established between us and Inter-Afrique Holdings (a Ghanaian company) to identify and exploit profitable business opportunities in Ghana's gold mining sector.
Our primary focus is to build a quality portfolio of projects within Ghana.
In Côte d'Ivoire, exploration activities are still suspended pending resolution of the current political impasse. We continue to monitor the situation and hold regular meetings with the government.
Our portfolio in the north of the country includes the Nielle permit which hosts the 3 million ounce Tongon project and complementary satellite targets within a 10 kilometer radius, the Boundiali permit where the advanced target of Tiasso locates and three reconnaissance licenses, which amount to a ground holding of some 2,628km2.
Human Resources Report
We have had a sustainable development and social responsibility strategy since our inception. This strategy forms part of and is fully integrated into our overall business strategy. In common with the business strategy, the sustainable development and social responsibility strategy is regularly updated and has evolved over the years.
Efforts have been maintained during the year to further enhance community relations and to promote and manage the social impact of mining activities on the communities surrounding our operations at Loulo, Morila and elsewhere. Our operations carry out their community development activities in close co-operation with representative local community liaison and development committees set up through consultation and co-operation between the operations and the communities, with input being sought from non-governmental organizations, aid agencies and government departments. During 2004, funds in excess of $1.2 million were allocated specifically to sustainable community development activities at Loulo, Morila, Syama and at our exploration sites.
The Morila community development trust fund became operational early in 2004.
Prior to the sale of Syama to Resolute Mining during the year, we, in partnership with US AID and the Ministry of Mines in Mali, set up and funded an agricultural scheme costing $110,000. This involved initiating several micro-agricultural family businesses such as fish farming, and the stocking of some mine dams and other water sources in the area, chicken farms, irrigated vegetable gardens and donkey rearing. In addition, we were involved in initiating a trust fund for villages surrounding Syama which was funded by an arrangement between us and the International Finance Corporation.
In Senegal, we created a special bursary award system for the University of Senegal's faculty of Earth Sciences. In Mali, we participate in a Malian mining industry bursary scheme which has sent four Malian students to South Africa for mining-related degree courses.
Mark Bristow, our chief executive, accepted an invitation to join the President of Senegal's Economic Advisory Committee. Meetings were held with government ministers in Mali, Tanzania,
Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. The President of Burkina Faso visited our representative office in Johannesburg and Loulo was visited by the Malian Minister of Mines during the year. Such regular liaison with governments of the countries in which we operate form part of our focus on building and maintaining effective relationships.
At a national level in Mali, during calendar year 2004, an amount of $17 million was paid to the Malian government in payroll taxes, duties, royalties and dividends by our operations and a further amount of approximately $77 million was paid to Malian businesses for goods and services rendered.
As we develop and expand, every effort is being made to employ excellent people. Through leadership, a sense of ownership and interpersonal influence, these people are motivated to do "what needs to be done" to make us grow.
"What needs to be done" is defined by consultative strategic planning, which is refreshed at regular intervals and results in its strategy being owned by all our employees. This strategy provides the foundation for the long-term plan (including manpower plans), the fundamental principles of our business, the framework for effective decision making and the action required from our people, the initiating of change and improvements and, most importantly, a rallying point. It enables us to organize our resources and optimize the application of our human capital.
In 2004, there were two significant changes in our leadership structure. Firstly, the exploration and evaluation functions were merged under the leadership of Adrian Reynolds, general manager exploration and evaluation. The new team includes exploration management, managing a very busy exploration program across six countries.
The second major change concerns the building of a top-class operational team for the Loulo mine currently being constructed. Most of the key appointments have been made ahead of the start of operations at Loulo, scheduled for 2005. Amadou Konta has been appointed general manager, becoming the first Malian to head a large gold mine in Mali.
Through involving employees in the business, motivating them and empowering them we have maintained enviable safety, health and low voluntary turnover records at its operations. Our operations have won national safety awards at Syama and Morila, have reduced the incidence of diseases such as malaria in the areas in which they operate and have maintained voluntary turnover of less than 1% per annum.
During 2004 we employed 12 persons based in Africa and Europe.
Our operational center is situated in Bamako and has 15 employees that provide financial, accounting, legal and logistical services to exploration projects and mining operations in Mali and the West African region.
Exploration had a total complement of 38 permanent and 71 fixed-term contract employees at December 2004. This number was reduced during the year with the transfer of the Mali West exploration team to the Loulo mine.
Loulo currently employs 32 persons on a full-time basis and 119 fixed-term contractor staff, employed for the duration of the construction project, through the Malian labor broking company UPS.
While the number of permanent employees of Morila SA was stable during the year, the number of contractor employees was significantly reduced with the completion of the processing plant extension project.
Seven Bridges Trading 14 (Pty) Limited
We opened a small support subsidiary company in Johannesburg during the year to take over the administrative support services previously supplied by Randgold & Exploration. Seven Bridges employs 15 persons.
Standard performance management, job evaluation and housing procedures and systems are operating successfully. Refresher courses have been undertaken to ensure these are fully comprehended by the workforce.
Training and Development
This year the focus has been on management skills, slimes dam design, ore evaluation, induction and safety training.
Regulatory and Environmental Matters
Our business is subject to extensive government and environment-related controls and regulations, including the regulation of the discharge of pollutants into the environment, disturbance of and threats to endangered species and other environmental matters. Generally, compliance with these regulations requires us to obtain permits issued by government agencies. Some permits require periodic renewal or review of their conditions. We cannot predict whether we will be able to renew those permits or whether material changes in permit conditions will be imposed. To the extent that the countries in which we have exploration and mining permits have no established environmental laws, we are currently working to ensure that our operations are in compliance with environmental standards set by the World Bank in relation to air emissions and water discharges. In accordance with our stated policy, we accrue estimated environmental rehabilitation costs based on the net present value of future rehabilitation cost estimates which are recognized and provided for in the financial statements and capitalized to mining assets on initial recognition. The present value of additional environmental disturbances created are capitalized to mining assets against an increase in rehabilitation provision.
Although we believe that our exploration permits will be renewed when they expire, based on the current applicable laws in the respective countries in which we have obtained permits, we cannot assure you that those permits will be renewed on the same or similar terms, or at all. In addition, although the mining laws of Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Tanzania provide a right to mine should an economic orebody be discovered on a property held under an exploration permit, we cannot assure you that the relevant government will issue a permit that would allow us to mine. All mineral rights within the countries in which we are currently prospecting are state-owned. Our interests effectively grant us the right to develop and participate in any mine development on the permit areas.
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