West Africa’s leading gold producer discusses the market.
IAMGOLD was born in in West Africa in the 1990s with the discovery of the Sadiola mine in Mali, the development of which triggered the mining industry in Mali and spread to the rest of the region. We are presently in three countries: Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal. IAMGOLD is the largest Canadian gold producer by numbers of ounces in the region and the largest private investor in Burkina Faso.
In Mali we have joint ventures with AngloGold Ashanti and the government of Mali on the Sadiola mine and the Yatela mine, which is winding down. In Burkina Faso, we have the Essakane mine, which is our flagship in the region and one of our main operations worldwide. We started production at Essakane in 2010 and we are now completing the expansion of the mine, which should be done by the end of December 2013 on budget and on time. We are also very active in terms of exploration around Essakane, in order to extend the life of the mine. In Senegal one of our most exciting discoveries is the Boto gold project. After we made some interesting intersections last year, we published early this year our first resource estimate on the Boto project. Next year we will be launching technical studies to advance the project, with scoping and moving into a prefeasibility study.
As the availability of skilled workers is a key issue in these young mining jurisdictions, what is IAMGOLD’s approach to developing the local pool of talent?
IAMGOLD has already brought significant employment to the region. For example, at the Essakane operation in Burkina Faso we employ over 2,000 Burkinabé, excluding contractors used during the recent expansion of the mine who totaled 1,200. IAMGOLD has a development plan in place to progressively reduce our expatriates and promote local workers with the necessary development and coaching. In parallel, we have developed programs with development agencies like Plan Burkina and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to provide training. Recently we held an internship program inside Essakane for several weeks to provide students with industrial experience.
The sharing of mining benefits has been a key issue for regulatory reform. Can you tell us about IAMGOLD’s main initiatives in terms of community development?
IAMGOLD has been at the forefront of community development. We are working with local communities very closely and developing plans with them and for them. As a company, we have been innovative with leading local procurement initiatives in the past four years. One of IAMGOLD’s targets has been to partner with the local suppliers so that they can improve their businesses and provide services at the standards that we need. For our mine expansion project in Burkina Faso, for example, we have worked with several national companies in terms of civil works and welding while also providing training in health and safety in order to meet our standards.
We were the first, in partnership with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) and the Canadian embassy, to bring a number of Burkina Faso entrepreneurs to Canadian mining areas to see what kind of partnerships they could establish with Canadian companies. These missions have resulted in tangible business partnerships. We have also been heavily involved in creating CSR networks in the region to support community development.
How do you foresee Senegal’s mining jurisdiction being regionally competitive in the medium term?
Senegal in terms of geological environment is quite similar to western Mali, so there is still potential but need more exploration to be done. It is important that the government keeps the mining code attractive to boost the gold mining industry in this country. The risk is if the mining code becomes unattractive, the result would be to push companies to invest in other jurisdictions. Most of the mining activities are happening in the far east of the country where infrastructure is limited. The government needs to see what it can do in terms of infrastructure reaching these areas, not only for roads but more importantly energy.
What is your outlook for IAMGOLD in the region in the next two to three years?
In the next few years, we will have our Essakane expansion finished and the mine will be optimized. At Sadiola we are working with our partners to develop it further. At Boto, we are starting development next year. We continue to look at more opportunities in West Africa, depending on the gold price, investment conditions, mining codes and good projects. IAMGOLD is one of the leaders in the region; we want to stay a leader and we want to expand.
This interview was conducted as part of the research conducted on African mining jurisdictions by Global Business Reports (GBR) as part of our partnership with African Mining Indaba LLC. The aim of this partnership is the production of the single most comprehensive intelligence report on the continent’s mineral sector. The Second Official Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide, will be launched next February 2015, as the only official publication providing country-specific information at Africa’s top mining event, the 2015 Investing in Africa Mining Indaba™ held in Cape Town, South Africa. You can view the 2014 Official Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide here