OUR OPERATIONS IN AFRICA
Africa is currently home to five of our operations, with one – Kibali – managed by Barrick Gold Corporation. These operations, which contributed 57% or 1.4Moz to total annual group production in 2021, are in Ghana (Iduapriem and Obuasi), Guinea (Siguiri), Tanzania (Geita) and the DRC (Kibali).
At the end of 2021, our African operations accounted for 65% of the group’s total Ore Reserve and 45% of its total Mineral Resource.
Operational Excellence initiatives aimed at unlocking value and offsetting current cost and production challenges in the short term remain key while the Full Asset Potential Review will be instrumental in realising latent value from these assets in the medium to long term. Growth and expansion projects are underway at Siguiri, Iduapriem and Geita while Phase 3 of the Obuasi Redevelopment Project continues.
The Africa operations employed an average of 17,260 people, of whom 10,781 were contractors, in 2021.
- Strong safety performance – Iduapriem, Geita and Siguiri remained fatality-free for the year
- Mining started at the Nyamulilima open pit (Geita), which is expected to produce more than one million ounces of gold over the next six years
- 21% year-on-year increase in Siguiri’s production, boosted by a 17% improvement in recoveries and the start of mining from higher-grade Block 2 ore body
- Completion of Phase 2 of Obuasi’s Redevelopment Project
- Voluntary suspension of underground operations at Obuasi after a fatal incident following a sill pillar failure, which impacted the region’s production
- Cost pressures at Iduapriem, due mainly to the investment required for waste stripping needed to access blocks 7 and 8 and the planned construction of a new TSF
- Impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in absenteeism and labour availability on some skill categories
- Negative short-term effect on costs due to re-investment programme and increased reliance on lower-grade stockpiles during transitional period
- Political uncertainty in Guinea following coup d’etat
- Production for the year was 1.4Moz (2020: 1.6Moz), achieved at a total cash cost of $904/oz (2020: $757/oz), as the region executes the reinvestment programme and various growth projects
- Higher all-in sustaining cost of $1,161/oz (2020: $935/oz), because of lower production
- Capital expenditure for the region was $506m (2020: $397m)
- Safety performance deteriorated with one occupational fatality and an all injury frequency rate of 0.61 per million hours worked versus 0.55 in 2020
- Community investment of $10.5m (2020: $12.9m)
- All Africa operations certified in terms of International Cyanide Management Code, ISO 45001 (health and safety) and ISO 14001, with the exception of Obuasi where work for its recertification in terms of the Cyanide Code and ISO 14001 is currently in progress
Solid performances at Geita, Siguiri and Kibali supported production and helped to offset stalled production at Obuasi where underground operations were suspended following a fatal incident in May 2021.
The increase in the regional all-in sustaining cost was a result of higher underground mining costs at Geita, because of the step up in ore and waste volumes and higher stay-in business capital spend for waste stripping at Teberebie Cut 2 at Iduapriem. Also, higher royalty costs were seen across the operations due to the increase in the gold price received.
Capital expenditure was largely spent on underground Ore Reserve development projects, which continued at Geita, and pre-stripping at Iduapriem (Teberebie Cut 2) to provide access to orebodies identified for future gold extraction. The balance of sustaining capital investment was used for capitalised exploration and stay-in business projects to improve asset integrity and realise business improvements across the operations, to ensure safe and sustainable growth and production.
At Geita, substantial progress was made opening up the Nyamulilima open pit, commencing production and remaining on track to achieve full planned operation by the end of 2022. Another notable achievement was the development of the Geita Hill underground mine for which a maiden Ore Reserve has been declared and where steady state operations are also expected by the end of 2022.
Kibali’s metallurgical plant performed well overall. The increased tonnages processed during 2021 were driven by the greater volumes of open-pit tonnes mined compared to 2020 and yielded 812,152oz. Kibali’s Mineral Reserve net of depletion is expected to increase for the third successive year in 2022, maintaining its plus 10-year life as a Tier One asset.
The grind and recovery optimisation continued at Siguiri’s combination plant during the year, and treatment of carbonaceous material started. The Block 2 project yielded its first ore once the haul road was completed between the remote deposit and the plant at Block 1.
The implementation of an initial three-year re-investment plan to revise and extend Iduapriem’s mine life is underway. This plan involves accelerated waste stripping from the Block 7 and 8 pit, initially from Teberebie Cut 2. Longer term options are to strip waste from cuts 5 and 6. The re-investment plan includes increasing TSF capacity to match the revised mine plan.
Underground mining activities resumed in the fourth quarter of 2021, after they were voluntary suspended in May 2021 immediately following the failure of a sill pillar. Towards the end of the first quarter of 2022, the restart plan was tracking to schedule. Construction of the major infrastructure to support the ramp up to 4,000tpd was complete by year end, with the paste-fill plant and GCVS vent fans commissioned. The KRS hoisting system is in service and the ramp up to 4,000tpd is targeted for the end of the first half of 2022. Forecast production for 2022 is around 240,000oz to 260,000oz at an all-in sustaining cost of $1,250/oz to $1,350/oz. Major infrastructure works are required to support a further ramp up of production. This will include the upgrade of the KMS shaft and KMV shaft as well as the development of a new ventilation shaft. We will continue the Ore Reserve development to access Block 11. Phase 3 construction is expected to be completed at the end of 2023 when the mining rate is planned to lift to 5,000tpd.
Outlook – future focus
- Safely maintain solid performance across the region
- Obuasi is scheduled to ramp up to 4,000tpd by mid-year, with production of about 240,000oz to 260,000oz; progress Phase 3
- Continued ramp up of underground and open pits at Geita
- Growth capital expenditure of approximately $100m has been allocated to Obuasi for completion of Phase 3 of the redevelopment project and approximately $60m for the construction of a new TSF at Iduapriem, as well as smaller amounts at Geita and Siguiri
- Marginal improvements in production are expected at Iduapriem and Siguiri, and consistent performances at the remaining assets
- Progress the Full Asset Potential Review, which began during the first quarter of 2022 at Siguiri