Kibali is tracking towards the top-end, or better, of its 750,000oz production budget, thanks in large part to the underground operation firing on all cylinders and setting new mining and shaft production records in the September quarter.
Bristow singled out the use of the Sandvik-owned Newtrax mine automation system as consolidating its mine automation leadership, "taking this to the next level" with the commissioning of the technology that provides real-time digital data collection, enhanced predictive maintenance, tracks and manages the fleet, and implements a digital safety system with personnel tracking.
He said the mine was also working towards a proof of concept of a highly advanced system that will allow manned and unmanned operations in the same area.
"In line with our policy of local employment and advancement, we continue to transfer the specialised skills required for automated mining to our Congolese workforce. The success of this policy is evident in Kibali's consistently excellent performance and shows what can be achieved with a world-class asset in a remote and under-developed region of Africa," Bristow said.
Meanwhile, Bristow touted Kibali's ability to grow net reserves. It is underpinned by strong drill results from the Ikmava-Kalimva deposits over the past few years. Potential openpit extensions in Gorumbwa, Sessenge and the potential KCD superpit, as well as the new KCD underground 11000 Lode are also lined up to continue feeding the Kibali mill for years to come.
Known for his advocacy of equitable mining codes in African jurisdictions, Bristow said he would engage the new DRC administration of president Felix Tshisekedi to review the 2018 mining code. He had previously voiced concern about the new mining code.
Despite months of lobbying from mining companies, in June 2018 the DRC legislated its new mining code to increase royalty rates on non-ferrous metals from 2% to 3.5% and precious metals from 2.5% to 3.5%, both calculated on the gross market value of the products.
It also created a special 10% royalty on minerals deemed by the state to be "strategic substances" (including cobalt), increased the non-dilutable state free-carried interest in exploitation companies applying for an exploitation license from 5% to 10% (increasing by a further 5% with each renewal), and introduced a 50% tax on exceptional profits, as well as reducing the duration of the exploitation licence.
"Following the transition of political power in the DRC, which happened peacefully in the face of many challenges, we plan to engage the new administration in a review of the 2018 mining code. We believe it is still possible to arrive at a dispensation which is more equitable to the industry," Bristow said.