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, 2003|
|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)
(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, 2003, the Registrant had outstanding 29,260,685 ordinary shares, par value $0.10 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
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 23 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, 2003 and 2002 of Société des Mines de Morila SA, or Morila SA. On October 25, 1999, we approved a change in our fiscal year from March 31 to December 31. Accordingly, the financial statements for the period in which the change in fiscal year became effective cover a nine month period from April 1, 1999 through December 31, 1999. 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 the more detailed information and financial statements, including our audited consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2003, 2002 and 2001 and as at December 31, 2003 and 2002 which appear elsewhere in this Annual Report. The historical consolidated financial data for the year ended December 31, 2000 and the nine month period ended December 31, 1999 and as at December 31, 2000 and 1999 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 23 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.
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, transfers to and from deferred stripping and royalties. The transfer to and from deferred stripping is calculated based on the actual historical waste stripping costs, as applied to a life of mine estimated stripping ratio. The costs of waste stripping in excess of the life of mine estimated stripping ratio, are deferred, and charged to production, at the average historical cost of mining the deferred waste, when the actual stripping ratio is below the life of mine stripping ratio. The net effect is to include a proportional share of total estimated stripping costs for the life of the mine, based on the current period ore mined. We have calculated total cash costs on a consistent basis for all periods presented. Total cash costs per ounce should not be considered by investors as an alternative to operating profit or net profit attributable to shareholders, as an alternative to other IFRS or U.S. GAAP measures or an indicator of our 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 a 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 Limited. 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 Limited.|
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 Morila, 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 Morila SA, the direct owner of Morila, or the Morila mine. In 2003, 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 eighteen 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;|
|•||any disputes which may arise between us and AngloGold Limited, or AngloGold, with respect to the management of Morila Limited; and|
|•||restrictions contained in the loan agreement between Morila SA and its lenders, on the ability of Morila SA to pay dividends to its shareholders, including Morila Limited.|
The provisions of Morila SA's loan agreement and its cash requirements may prevent it from paying dividends to its shareholders, including Morila Limited, which would reduce our cash flow and adversely affect our business.
The terms of Morila SA's loan agreement restrict Morila SA's ability to pay dividends. Morila SA may pay dividends only in the event it meets various financial tests and is otherwise not in default under the loan agreement. The loan agreement provides that Morila SA may declare dividends only if it has cash on hand in excess of three months projected working capital, capital expenditure commitments and any cash balances required to satisfy covenants under the loan agreement. Our business, cash flows and financial condition will be materially and adversely affected if anticipated dividends are not paid by Morila SA.
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 2004.
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. For our continued operations, which does not include Syama, the total cash cost of production per ounce of gold sold was $100 in the year ended December 31, 2003, $74 in the year ended December 31, 2002 and $102 in the year ended December 31, 2001. For all operations, the total cash cost of production per ounce of gold sold was $100 in the year ended December 31, 2003, $74 in the year ended December 31, 2002, $156 in the year ended December 31, 2001.
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. 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.
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.
Under our joint venture agreement with AngloGold, we jointly manage Morila Limited, and any disputes with AngloGold over the management of Morila Limited could adversely affect our business.
We jointly manage Morila Limited with AngloGold under a joint venture agreement. Under the agreement, AngloGold 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 retain equal control over the board, with neither party holding a deciding vote. If a dispute arises between us and AngloGold 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 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 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 if our internally generated cash resources are insufficient 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.|
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. The military has also taken a hand in the politics of these countries and has returned them to stability in times of political upheavals. Successful democratic elections have been held in all of these countries in recent years, which has seen civilian rule returned to power. 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. Discussions between the two parties continue regarding the establishment of an interim power sharing government which would seek to establish a more permanent peaceful solution for the country. A cease fire between all parties was signed at the beginning of May 2003.
A United Nations peace keeping force has been sent to the country to ensure that peace is maintained between the various parties. West African political leaders have continued to apply pressure to the parties to bring about a peaceful solution.
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 conflict in Côte d'Ivoire has 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 once normality returns.
Most goods are supplied to Mali through Côte d'Ivoire. Other supply routes to Mali are, however, functioning. Our operations in Mali 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 and our other joint ventures, 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. Factors critical to retaining our present staff and attracting additional highly qualified personnel include our ability to provide these individuals with competitive compensation arrangements, equity participation and other benefits. 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. We do not maintain "key man" life insurance policies on most members of our executive team.
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.
Our chairman holds positions with other companies in our industry, which may present conflicts with Randgold Resources that are resolved in a manner unfavorable to us.
Our chairman, holds positions with Randgold & Exploration Company Limited, or Randgold & Exploration, our largest shareholder, and other companies in our industry. These positions could create, or appear to create, potential conflicts of interest our chairman is faced with decisions that could have different implications for us and the other companies in which he holds positions. These conflicts may ultimately be resolved in a manner that is unfavorable to us.
Legal action instituted against our chairman may adversely affect our share price.
Our chairman, Roger A.R. Kebble, resigned as a director of Durban Roodepoort Deep Limited, or DRD, a South African company, in June 2002. Management of DRD has instituted legal
proceedings alleging that while Mr. Kebble was chairman of DRD, he may have benefited from transactions involving payments to a close corporation of which he was a member, which was not disclosed to DRD. Mr. Kebble has disputed the claims. The matter continues to be adjourned and no final date for a hearing has been set.
A criminal action, brought on November 12, 2002, is pending in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Johannesburg against Mr. Kebble for an alleged contravention of Section 234 of the Companies Act No. 51 of 1973 and/or fraud, arising out of an alleged failure by Mr. Kebble, as a director of DRD, to declare to DRD his interest in Skilled Labour Brokers CC and allegations that DRD received invoices from this corporation which were paid by DRD at a time when Mr. Kebble had an undisclosed interest in that entity. Final charges have not yet been filed.
A criminal action, brought on December 6, 2002, is pending in the High Court of South Africa, Witwatersrand Local Division, against Western Areas Limited, Mr. R. Brett Kebble, Hendrik Buitendag and Mr. Roger A.R. Kebble on unspecified alleged charges of fraud. Details of the charges have not been provided. We have been informed that the proceedings arise out of the proposed restructuring of JCI Gold Limited, Consolidated African Mining Limited, Randgold & Exploration, Free State Development and Investment Corporation Limited and Barnato Exploration Limited, towards the end of 1999. This action is still pending.
In the event that these legal actions continue against our chairman, investors may be unwilling to invest in our securities, which may have an adverse effect on our share price.
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.
Risk 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 government 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.
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 is re-assessing its internal procedures and has temporarily stopped fuel duties reimbursements.
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.
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'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 were formed by Randgold & Exploration, a South African resource company, as a result of the decision by Randgold & Exploration to separate its exploration activities between those conducted inside South Africa and Namibia, or the Randblock, and those in Africa outside of the Randblock. Randgold & Exploration is a publicly traded company whose shares trade on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and on the Nasdaq National Market, in the form of ADRs. This enabled us to engage in the exploration and development of gold deposits and associated metals from African countries, excluding the Randblock, independently of Randgold & Exploration.
Randgold & Exploration transferred its interests in mineral activities outside of the Randblock to us in August 1995, for $5 million, which we satisfied by issuing 8,000,000 shares to Randgold & Exploration.
In October 1996, Randgold & Exploration, through an intermediate holding company, Randgold Resources (Holdings) Limited, acquired from BHP International Inc., or BHP, the entire issued share capital of BHP Minerals Mali (which was later renamed Randgold Resources Mali Inc., or RRMI) and the benefit of $78 million in shareholder loans. The main asset of RRMI was a 65% interest in Société des Mines de Syama SA, or Somisy, whose assets included the Syama mine. We then acquired the investment in RRMI in exchange for the issuance of 3,212,812 new shares at $25.50 per share. As part of that transaction, Randgold & Exploration guaranteed a $32.2 million loan, including interest, which remained owing to BHP from RRMI.
We acquired the Syama mine in October 1996. However, in April 2004, Resolute Mining Limited of Australia, or Resolute, exercised their option to acquire the Syama mine. For a more detailed discussion of the Syama mine, please see Item 4. Information on the Company — B. Business Overview.
We discovered the Morila deposit during December 1996.
In July 1997, we listed on the London Stock Exchange and completed our initial public offering of 5,000,000 ordinary shares, including Global Depositary Shares, or GDSs, resulting in net proceeds to us of $77.5 million. These proceeds were used to:
|•||retire the retained loan from BHP of approximately $32.2 million;|
|•||contribute to the funding of the capital expansion program at the Syama mine; and|
|•||fund the exploration activities of the Golden Ridge project in Tanzania, a project which we held for four years. In 1999, this project was sold to Barrick Gold Corporation.|
During November 1998, we acquired a further 10% interest in Somisy and certain related shareholder loans, through the issue of 1,157,444 of our ordinary shares to the International Finance Corporation.
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 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|
|•||a controlling interest in Somilo, which conducts exploration activities over the Loulo permit.|
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 December 16, 2002, we entered into a settlement agreement with Randgold & Exploration, Somisy, Rolls-Royce Power Ventures Limited, Syama Power Sales Limited, or SYPPS, and Operation d'Energie de Syama S.A. regarding our outstanding litigation relating to a contract for the supply of power generating equipment to the Syama gold mine. As a result of this agreement, all parties have withdrawn their claims. Under this agreement, we, Somisy and Randgold & Exploration agreed to pay SYPPS a total amount of $5.3 million in three installments. Resolute assumed the outstanding balance of this settlement when it acquired the Syama mine. The equipment has been returned to Rolls-Royce Power Ventures Limited which removed the equipment from the mine site at its expense.
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. 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 will 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. Through a series of sales, Randgold & Exploration reduced its percentage interest in us to approximately 37% by December 31, 2003. Randgold & Exploration has since further reduced its percentage interest in us to approximately 31%.
In February 2004 we announced that we would develop a new mine at Loulo in western Mali. It is anticipated that the new mine would commence open-pit operations in July 2005. In addition, a feasibility study has commenced on the underground potential to extend the life of the proposed new Loulo operation. It is anticipated that the feasibility study will be completed by December 2004.
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 already 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 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.
During the third quarter of 2003, we submitted an unsolicited offer to Ashanti Goldfields Company Limited, or Ashanti Goldfields. The result of our offer would have resulted in a merger between Ashanti Goldfields and ourselves, with the merged company retaining the Ashanti name. However, the Ashanti Goldfields' board declined to accept our bid, favoring an alternative third party offer. Subsequently, Ashanti Goldfields shareholders formally accepted the alternate offer and that merger has taken place.
Effective on 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) 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
As of December 31, 2003, our capital commitments for Morila amounted to $0.5 million. This relates to capital expenditures which had been committed and contracted of $0.3 million capital expenditures for Morila committed but not yet contracted amounted to $0.2 million financed out of operating cashflows.
B. BUSINESS OVERVIEW
We engage in surface 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, a joint venture with AngloGold. Morila Limited in turn owns 80% of Morila SA, the owner of the Morila mine. We also have advanced-stage development projects in Mali and the neighboring country of Côte d'Ivoire, and hold exploration permits covering additional areas in Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Senegal and exploration licenses in Tanzania. As of December 31, 2003, we had declared proven and probable reserves of approximately 2.37 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 risk exposure to any particular geographical area.
The focus of Morila Limited's exploration activities is on extending the existing orebody and discovering new deposits which can be processed using the Morila plant. A recently completed study has outlined nine new targets with similar structural settings to Morila and drill testing has commenced on the first of these. Following completion of the near mine geological model, several areas around the current pit with the potential to yield continuous flat lying mineralization have been targeted for further drilling.
Outside of Morila Limited, we hold exploration permits covering 3,000 square kilometers in the Morila region, where we are engaged in early stage exploration work.
Three targets there have been prioritized for drilling based on encouraging trends and pit results and the geological model.
We also own advanced-stage development projects at Loulo, located in Mali, and Tongon, located in Côte d'Ivoire. In February 2004 we announced that we would develop a new mine at Loulo in western Mali. It is anticipated that the new mine would commence open-pit operations in July 2005. In addition, a feasibility study has commenced on the underground potential to extend the life of the proposed new Loulo operation. It is anticipated that the feasibility study will be completed by December 2004. 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 C|$$|Axote d'Ivoire, potentially be developed.
Ownership of Mines and Subsidiaries
The Morila mine is owned by a Malian company, Morila SA, which in turn is owned 80% by Morila Limited and 20% by the State of Mali. Morila Limited is jointly owned by us and AngloGold. 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.
Under a joint venture agreement between us, we are each entitled to appoint four directors to the board of directors of Morila Limited. AngloGold 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. 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.
The Loulo Project is owned by a Malian company, Somilo SA, which in turn is owned 80% by RRL Somilo and 20% by the State of Mali.
The following map indicates the location of the Morila mine and the Loulo and Tongon projects.
Our strategy is to achieve superior returns on equity through the management and exploitation of resource opportunities focusing on gold.
We will achieve this by:
|•||leveraging our intellectual capital in the application of information, exploration, development and operational technology;|
|•||thorough auditing and evaluation procedures; and|
|•||pursuing acceptable risk.|
We are developing joint venture partnerships and strategic alliances in order to share the inherent risks associated with mineral exploration. We undertake an ongoing evaluation program to review our entry into and continued exploration and development work in our targeted regions. We actively manage our political risk exposure. Our core area of focus is Sub-Saharan Africa, but all countries with good gold prospectivity worldwide are of interest to us. We rank all nations worldwide based on their:
|•||exploration potential/mineral endowment;|
|•||economic and fiscal framework; and|
We employ a multi-disciplinary team to manage, explore and develop opportunities, including specialists in geology, mining engineering and metallurgy. Our exploration and development activities are guided by specialists from South Africa, Europe, Canada, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire Senegal, Burkina Faso and Tanzania. We aim to maintain a balance between our exploration interests at different stages of development. In our initial stages of growth we held a large number of grassroots exploration interests. Morila, together with several exploration successes, have provided us with a number of more advanced projects and the discovery of the Morila deposit resulted in a profit generating asset capable of providing cash flows. Our management has introduced the concept of the "Resources Triangle" which enables the status of a resource project to be ranked against its peers in terms of advancement. Our primary objective is to move projects from the base of the triangle to the status of a producing mine at the pinnacle of the triangle or eliminate them along the way and replace those that are rejected with projects from the pool of projects in the rest of the triangle.
At March 31, 2004, Morila has been in production for 42 months and in that time had produced more than 2.6 million ounces at a total cash cost of less than $100 per ounce. A comprehensive exploration program is being carried out within the Morila mine lease area.
Our corporate, exploration, development and new business program is designed to achieve the following objectives:
|•||develop the Loulo Project;|
|•||complete the Loulo underground pre-feasibility and feasibility studies.|
|•||locate Morila style mineralization in southern Mali;|
|•||outline advanced gold targets within our portfolio of exploration permits; and|
|•||define new opportunities within our priority regions in Africa and elsewhere. During the current field season, drilling programs will be undertaken in Loulo, Morila and Senegal.|
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 Achaean 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. However, the political uncertainty in past years and in particular the post-independence periods has resulted in exploration companies being wary of investing in an area perceived to be unstable. 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, Ghana 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 $350 per ounce over the life of the mine or project.
Morila reserves have been calculated by our joint venture partner, AngloGold. The Loulo Project reserves were calculated by SRK Consulting.
Total reserves as of December 31, 2003, amounted to 37.4 million tonnes at an average grade of 3.75 g/t, giving 4.51 million ounces of gold of which 2.37 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, 2003:
|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.|
Results of Operations
The following chart details the operating and production results from operations for the years ended December 31, 2003, 2002 and 2001:
Morila is located approximately 180 kilometers southeast of the city of Bamako. In 2003, the Morila mine confirmed its status as one of the world's leading gold mines both in terms of ounces of gold produced and production costs. During the third quarter of the year the mine passed the milestone of 2.5 million ounces of gold. The mine achieved this in just three full years since inception. By year end, the mine had produced 2.62 million ounces of gold at a total cash cost of $89 per ounce since inception.
In total for the year ended December 31, 2003, the mine produced 793,992 ounces at $76 per ounce cash operating cost and $100 per ounce total cash cost. This performance maintains Morila's position as one of the lowest cost and largest gold producers for this period worldwide. This degree of profitability enabled substantial dividends to be paid and has allowed us to further strengthen our balance sheet.
Total cash profit for the year was $195 million and distributions to shareholders totaled $174 million. The total dividend paid to us during the year amounted to $69.6 million.
A summary of the salient production and financial statistics for the project as well as a comparison with last year's results follows.
|(1)||For a definition of cash costs, please see Item 3. Key Information – A. Selected Financial Data.|
At the national level, during the year ended December 31, 2003, approximately $57 million was paid to the Malian government in payroll taxes, duties, royalties and dividends and a further amount of approximately $48 million was paid to Malian businesses for goods and services rendered.
Morila SA's tax affairs are regulated by the general tax laws of Mali, the mining code and an Establishment Convention, which is an agreement between us and the State of Mali. The mining code sets out general guidelines, whereas the convention is more detailed and takes precedence over any other laws. The Establishment Convention fixes the fiscal regime for Morila for the length of the mining permit. If general tax laws or the mining code change, they cannot affect Morila unless they are beneficial to Morila, in which case Morila may adopt the new legislation in its entirety.
A major benefit of the Establishment Convention is that Morila is exempt from income tax on profits, currently levied in Mali at the greater of 35% of taxable income and 0.75% of gross revenue, for 5 years starting from October 2000, the date of first commercial production. Morila has a further two years of exemption under the Establishment Convention.
Geology, Exploration and Orebody Definition
The Morila Permit area is located in the northern portion of the West African craton and is underlain by Lower Proterozoic (Birrimian) meta-volcanic and meta-sedimentary sequences and large granitoid intrusions. The deposit is located just 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 the contact with an intrusive tonalite and hosted within a shallow dipping shear zone referred to as the Morila shear zone. The alteration envelope is 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 to find new mineralized zones were concentrated in several areas last year:
|•||A detailed 20 meter by 20 meter infill reverse circulation and diamond drilling program within the south-west to north-east trending high-grade axis;|
|•||Infill diamond drilling to increase the level of confidence in the orebody;|
|•||exploring the extensions to the orebody; and|
|•||exploration of the 200 square kilometers mining lease area.|
In 2002 in the northern part of the orebody an extremely high-grade pod of mineralization was identified which impacted positively on the production for the year. Following the success of the drilling program which identified the high-grade pod, it was decided to extend the program to the rest of the mine. Priority was given to exploring the south-west to north-east trending high-grade payshoot axis. As a result of operational difficulties, diamond drilling was used to supplement the reverse circulation drilling.
While there does not seem to be a high-grade pod of the dimensions or quality identified in the previous year, some encouraging results have been received.
For example, in the borehole San 338 the total intercept returned a grade of 18.1g/t over a 71 meter interval, including 17.5 meters at a grade of 58.1g/t. In the borehole San 342, 55 meters was sampled at a grade of 11.1g/t, within which was 25 meters at the a grade of 19.6g/t. Reverse circulation borehole RCX 177 returned intersections of 15 meters at a grade of 11.8g/t and 17 meters at a grade of 29.3g/t.
Remodeling of the south-west to north-east trending high-grade payshoot clearly shows more continuity in the payshoot at higher grades as can be seen in the comparison between the value trend plan at the end of 2002 and the updated end of 2003 plan. The association between the south-west to north-east trending high grade axis and the top of an anticlinal feature has been further confirmed by this infill program.
A sophisticated grade control and management system is in use to ensure effective selective mining, minimize ore losses and the attainment of the desired feed grade. In order to improve the ability to accurately estimate and control the short to medium term grade estimates, the mine has adopted the policy of replacing, for quantitative purposes, the blast hole grade control programs with close spaced reverse circulation (RC) drilling programs. These are carried out at an initial spacing of 20 meters by 20 meters reducing to spacing of 10 meters by 10 meters in areas where the variability of the orebody warrants.
The entire orebody is currently being drilled out on a 20 meter by 20 meter reverse circulation (RC) drilling program to enhance medium term planning which will allow for further detailed definition of the orebody model. Results from selected blasthole samples are also used for qualitative determination of ore/waste boundaries.
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.
Mine Planning and Reserves
The 2002 mine plan was updated during the year using the resource base updated in April 2003 with further modifications made in mid-year and after completion of the final resource estimate in October 2003. During the course of the year the Phase 2 pit, which had been developed to optimally exploit the high-grade payshoot to the north-east, reached a depth of more than 100 meters below surface. We estimate that this pit phase will be completed during the first half of 2004. Development of Pit Phase 3 commenced in the first half of the year and the rate at which mining takes place was accelerated during the year to enable ore to be exposed prior to the depletion of the Phase 2 pit. This will lead to the merging of the two pits in the course of the next year. Phase 4 pit development has commenced with waste stripping of near surface weathered ore. Estimated mineable reserves amount to 25.74 million tonnes at a grade of 3.74g/t containing 3.10 million ounces of gold as is tabulated below:
|1.||Cut-off grade 1.4 g/t.|
|2.||Includes stockpiled ore.|
|3.||Includes mining dilution of 10% at zero grade and a gold loss of 5%.|
As a result of depletion by mining of more than 850,000 ounces, as well as changes to the orebody model, the estimated total reserves remaining has decreased from 4.22 million ounces to 3.1 million ounces. However, as a result of the increased density of drilling, the proportion of reserves qualifying as proven reserves has increased significantly to 43% from 17%.
Based on the current reserves it is estimated that mining at the Morila mine will cease in 2009. However, exploration successes in the Donba-Morila corridor and elsewhere on the lease offer further opportunities to extend the life and profitability of the operation.
The Morila metallurgical plant has a dedicated oxide handling unit which eliminates the problems of feeding soft ore through a hard rock crushing unit.
The raw water dam at Morila is maintained at a 97% capacity level and provides a three months' requirement in the event of a severe drought. It has encouraged an influx of local and migratory birds. The mine village is fully occupied by senior and expatriate staff. The local mine village in the Sanso area accommodates supervisory Malian staff and their families. These homes are supplied with electrical power, piped potable water and a sewerage disposal system. We also upgraded a medical clinic and additional classrooms have been erected at the Sanso school.
The value of the plant, equipment and infrastructure at Morila is estimated at $127.7 million. The majority of Morila's value is attributed to the processing plant, power plant and associated workshops. The total mine permit area at Morila is 200 square kilometers. All infrastructure requirements including roads, power and water reticulation, waste disposal, communications, recreation, health and safety facilities are provided by the mine. Morila also maintains a licensed airstrip.
The power station incorporates five 5.5 megawatt Rolls-Royce Allen 5012 diesel generator sets operated by a Rolls-Royce operating subsidiary. Rolls-Royce has completed corrective work relating to the defective design of the engine's connecting rod assembly which was made to each engine one at a time. Six Aggreko units have been retained on the mine as back-up generators.
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. The current mining agreement between Morila and Somadex has been re-negotiated. Under this new agreement the mine staff will play a more direct role in the management of the open pit operation. We believe that by co-operating and managing the mining contractor more closely, the mine will be able to increase mining efficiencies and reduce costs.
The ore is mined using conventional loaders and dump trucks.
Ore Processing and Metallurgy
The Morila metallurgical plant continued improving its production record by increasing tonnage throughput. During the course of the year, monthly throughputs increased and by the last quarter,
throughput averaged 280,000 tonnes per month. This was largely due to the benefits of the mine to mill initiative along with improvements in operational efficiency.
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 in blast patterns and blast initiation.
A plant expansion project was approved during the year and construction commenced in the first quarter of 2003. The expansion is 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. The plant commissioning was delayed into the second quarter of 2004. Production throughput was down due to down time related to tying in the new sections of the plant which impacted on gold production. Recoveries were also impacted by the commissioning. Ounces produced in the first quarter were 107,115 compared to 119,637 in the last quarter of 2003.
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 a capacity of 2,500m3 providing the necessary residence time to maintain the current high gold recovery levels. The existing mill cyclone cluster is being replaced by a larger unit to ensure adequate classification at the higher production levels.
The tailings stream will be passed through a new thickener which will reduce discharge cyanide levels further. The recovered cyanide will be recycled into the process stream thereby reducing reagent costs as well as the cyanide levels in the tailings facility.
Commissioning of the expansion facility in 2004 will allow the processing of lower grade ore and ameliorate the increase in unit costs resulting from the forecast grade drop.
Human Resources and Community Relations
At the national level, during year ended December 31, 2003, $57 million was paid to the Malian government in payroll taxes, duties, royalties and dividends and a further $48 million was paid to Malian businesses for goods and services rendered.
Efforts have continued during the year to enhance community relations and to promote and manage the social impact of mining activities on the communities surrounding the mine.
A strategy was devised and $750,000 was allocated during the year specifically to sustainable community development activities. Other resources were also allocated, including two additional community development officers. Part of the funding for community development was provided by the board approving the creation of a community trust fund in the amount of $500,000. The trust fund has as trustees members of the community, members of the Morila SA board, mine management and officials from government ministries.
Other funding comes from the mine's community development budget which is allocated to projects by the Morila community development committee. This committee makes decisions using agreed sustainable development parameters. The committee comprises representatives from the communities surrounding the mine, from the mine and from local and national government. The committee meets monthly.
During 2003, much work was done on the infrastructure of the villages close to the mine, including bridges and roads, the provision of water to the villages, grain storage facilities, a recreation and sports centre, the completion of two mosques and the establishment of irrigated vegetable gardens. Support of schools and clinics in the area has continued and the well established AIDS awareness and vector control campaigns have been enhanced.
Industrial relations at the mine improved during 2003. Issues such as housing, job grading and advancement were settled amicably following joint management/union task team studies and submission of jointly agreed recommendations. Capacity building among union officials was intensified during the year through joint management/union task team studies and through training with the assistance of the national union and local labor relations training consultants.
Negotiations on a mine level agreement to enhance understanding and regulate industrial relations on the mine continued during the year. 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.
A two-day work stoppage occurred at Morila on October 6 and 7, 2003, in compliance with a call for a national strike across all industries by the UNTM (National Malian Workers Union). The strike had a minimal effect on production due to its short duration and the efforts of the expatriate staff who kept the processing plant running using stockpiled materials. It is noted that Randgold Resources Mali and Somisy SA employees ignored the strike call and worked normally.
On June 21, 2004 the workforce at Morila returned to work after a three-day work stoppage called by SECNAMI, the mining section of UNTM, in support of the Morila worker's dispute with mine management about a productivity bonus. Although the mine remained operational during the strike, the work stoppage will have a negative impact on the mine's production for the quarter ending June 30, 2004.
Manning levels related to permanent and temporary Morila and contractor employees on the mine, are as follows:
Contractor employees have increased during the year with the start of a $10 million plant expansion project that commenced in March 2003. The recruitment of labor for the project was controlled for the mine contractor using a Malian labor broker. The community development committee assisted with recruitment to ensure access to job opportunities created for local villagers and a fair distribution between villages. The major contractors on the mine are the mining contractor, construction contractor, security contractors and catering contractors.
Performance management, job evaluation and housing systems are operating satisfactorily following implementation. Training courses are underway to ensure that these systems are fully understood by the workforce.
Training and Development
The program to promote the hiring of Malian citizens instead of expatriate employees is now fully integrated with the manpower plan and training and development strategy. The program was enhanced by the introduction of an industry 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 replaced with Malian citizens during 2003 and we are encouraging the mine to accelerate this process as competency based training and development courses are completed.
Development Projects — Loulo Project
The Loulo 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. 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 140 kilometers by road from Sadiola and approximately 25 kilometers from Segala and Tabakoto, which are local gold deposits.
The original Loulo 0 gold deposit was discovered by Syndicat Or (a joint venture between Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières and Direction Nationale de la Géologie et des Mines in 1981. Syndicat Or continued with exploration until 1989 and concluded with a feasibility study showing that the Loulo 0 deposit was sub-economic.
A period of rapid exploration followed after we took control of the project in 1996, resulting in the discovery of the Yalea deposit. A feasibility study was completed which estimated a 120,000 tonnes per month operation mining ore from the two identified orebodies, Loulo 0 and Yalea for a period of 10 years. Submission and approval of the feasibility study by Somilo SA allowed us to increase our stake in the project to 51%. However, the project was put on hold as a result of the rapid drop in gold price as well as the decision to develop Morila ahead of Loulo.
The project is located with a Lower Proterozoic Birrimian metasedimentary-volcanic sequence. The area is extensively laterized and covered by transported surface material, with only a very small amount of rock visible at the surface.
The permit area is transgressed by several regional linear structures, such as faults or shear zones, and there exists a strong spatial relationship between gold and these structures. The regional structures strike for over 50 kilometers north to north-east across the permit area. The main alteration types associated with mineralization include quartz tourmaline, sulphidation, albite, silicification, hematization and carbonate.
Since the completion of an updated feasibility study on the Loulo Project in March 2003, considerable progress has been made in further defining a viable project. In addition to an increase in the gold price, several technical issues were re-investigated in detail. An addendum to the March 2003 feasibility study was completed in December 2003 and the development of a six year opencast project was approved by our board in the same month.
Our board agreed as part of the financing arrangements for the development of Loulo that some gold price protection be secured. At March 31, 2004, 300,000 ounces had been sold forward at an average spot price of $409 per ounce. In addition to the above, we carried out a Forward Rate Agreement as part of the hedge to fix the four year gold lease rate. An average rate of 1.67% for the four years was achieved. The re-investigation of the issues resulted in better definition of a viable project with an improved understanding of the risks involved. Subsequent to this, the position was rescheduled as a fixed forward hedge with an average gold price of $430 per ounce.
An underground feasibility project is being undertaken and will be completed by the end of 2004.
Pit Design and Scheduling
The templates for final pit designs were selected by SRK (South Africa) from the $350/oz optimized pits. Intermediate pits were designed in order to minimize up front stripping ratios. A basic design change positioned all ramps in the hangingwall which maximizes ore extraction and minimizes waste removal. As a result, we could extract more ore at lower costs.
SRK Consulting has calculated the reserves for the Loulo Project set forth below as of December 31, 2003:
|1.||Reserves are calculated at a gold price of $350/oz.|
|2.||Dilution of 10% and ore loss of 3% are incorporated into the calculation of reserves.|
|3.||Of these amounts, 80% is attributable to us.|
While ore tonnage is lower than reported at the end of 2002, (11.69 million tonnes as compared to 12.9 million tonnes), the ore grade has increased from 3.60g/t to 3.77g/t.
Scheduling of the removal of ore and waste is based on mining 90,000 tonnes of run of mine (ROM) ore per month from each of the two pits. In the last two years of mining we anticipate that production will be decreased to 60,000 tonnes per month to take into account decreasing accessibility with depth. The shortfall will be mined from the satellite deposits.
Metallurgical Plant Design
We anticipate that the Loulo Project will have a process plant incorporating crushing and ball milling. We also believe that a stage crushing circuit will facilitate a 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, carbon-in-leach (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.
Tailings Storage Facility and Design
Preliminary testwork has been completed on the paste tailings option with residue showing amenability to this type of deposition. Paste tailings includes a high-efficiency thickening step prior to deposition and is becoming a favored disposal option, since it minimizes water placement on the tailings storage facility. The project team is currently progressing the detailed design of a conventional tailings dam, while evaluating the feasibility of the paste tailings option.
Water for the operation will be drawn from the Falémé River. The Senegal River Authority and Direction Nationale Hydraulique, the Malian water authority, have approved our application to draw on the Falémé River. We have approval to provide sufficient water storage capacity for mining operations.
Loulo is in a remote area where regional infrastructure is inadequate for the development of a mine, specifically the provision of power and roads. Efficient access to the site requires construction of 85 kilometers of national road from Sadiola to Kenieti. We reached agreement with the Government of Mali under which Somilo SA is constructing the road infrastructure. The construction expense of the road will be repaid to Somilo SA by the State paying 50% of its royalty from future mine production until the amount is repaid in full. The terms have been incorporated into a formal agreement which will be executed shortly.
The feasibility study is based on self-generated diesel power. In addition, we have engaged Energie du Mali (EDM) on the issue of supply from the nearby Manantali Dam and EDM has proposed a joint study on the feasibility of the supply of power. Should we be able to agree on suitable commercial terms, the supply of lower cost, hydro electric power from the Manantali Dam hydro electric scheme, would have a significant impact on the returns of the Loulo Project.
An estimate of the total costs required to cover all expected closure liabilities as stipulated in the Mining Convention applicable to the Loulo Project and following World Bank guidelines has been made. An estimate of closure costs has been made by environmental consultants, Digby Wells and Associates. As certain of the parameters have not yet been finally set, such as the size and shape of the waste rock dumps and the run of mine pad, this estimate will be modified as more information becomes available. The emphasis will also be on contemporaneous reclamation as well as the imposition of stringent conditions on contractors in the design and construction of facilities.
Metallurgical Design and Management (Pty) Limited has been awarded the main construction contract, following the tender adjudication in March 2004. We have not yet awarded the mining, power supply and refining contracts.
Human Resources and Community Relations
Manpower and other human resources related plans, procedures, arrangements and systems have been prepared for the start up of the Loulo Project.
Communications with the community, government, non-governmental organizations and aid agency stakeholders during the year resulted in the establishment of a representative community/project liaison, development committee and agreements on co-operation between ourselves, the Government and aid agencies to ensure good relations are maintained and to maximize the benefits to the community of the project.
The Loulo Project will be financed through a combination of project financial loans and shareholder loans. We are in the process of securing suitable project financing.
We intend to finance the project through a project finance loan of up to $60 million with the balance of the capital being provided by the Somilo SA shareholders by way of shareholder loans. Société Généralé and NM Rothschild & Sons were mandated in February 2004 to arrange the project finance.
Construction commenced in February 2004 with the establishment of the access road to Kenieti, site clearing for the plant, office, stores and camp. With the commencement of construction, we
estimate that the plant will begin production in July 2005. The program is mainly dependent on access and commencing the civil program ahead of the rainy season, as well as the timely delivery of the mills at the start of the next dry season.
Exploration and feasibility study activities have been disrupted by the state of unrest in Côte d'Ivoire and all on-site work has been suspended.
The situation is constantly being monitored and it is believed there has been considerable movement towards a settlement of issues in the country. We have maintained our presence in Côte d'Ivoire and are capable of recommencing our activities without delay once the political and security environment returns to acceptable levels. A standstill agreement has been reached with the Côte d'Ivoire government whereby, as a result of the existing force majeure conditions, we will be credited with all lost time during which we were unable to fulfill the exploration permit conditions.
The Tongon Project is located in northern Côte d'Ivoire, 628 kilometers north of Abidjan within the 671 km2 Nielle Permit in central northern Côte d'Ivoire. We have held the exploration permit since November 1996 and have carried out exploration activities on the project in several phases.
A prefeasibility type 2 study was completed in 2002. This indicated the project could be economically viable and the decision was therefore made to proceed with further, more advanced feasibility work.
It is anticipated that mining of the Tongon orebodies would be by open-pit methods. More detailed drilling is required in order to assess the proven and probable reserves at this project.
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. We believe a 200,000 tonnes per month recovery plant will be necessary 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 indicated 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 floatation, fine grinding of the concentrate followed by CIL extraction.
Discontinued Operation — Syama Gold Mine
Care and Maintenance
Syama was on care and maintenance during 2003. Activities were focused on erosion control, routine turning of process plant and power generation equipment and water quality monitoring work. The phased disposal of surplus spares to partially fund the care and maintenance program continued, with the balance of funds being provided by ourselves.
Closure of the Syama Mine
We acquired the Syama mine in October 1996. At the time of acquisition, the Syama ore processing capability was approximately 75,000 tonnes per month. The installed power capacity at
Syama was 15 megawatts, or MW, and the operation used 9 MW in steady state operating mode, plus 5 MW to start production. At the time of acquisition, gold production was running at approximately 120,000 ounces per year and costs at approximately $3.8 million per month, resulting in unit costs of approximately $380 per ounce.
Following acquisition, we developed a two-phase plan to expand plant capacity to 210,000 tonnes per month and the level of ounces produced to 270,000 ounces per annum. We believed this production level would have reduced unit costs to $210 per ounce by increasing the number of ounces over which costs were spread, the majority of which were fixed. According to the plan, total mine costs (mining, milling, general and administrative and royalty) would have increased to approximately $4.7 million per month, with unit costs decreasing to $210 per ounce with the increased production. The fixed-cost element of the projections was based on then current fixed costs. The variable cost elements were calculated on test work and actual quantities of reagents and power per ton milled for oxide and more competent harder ore.
The expansion plan for Syama consisted of two phases:
|•||The first phase, Syama 1, involved the expansion of the power generation facilities, the crushing and stockpiling facility, the gold recovery section and the addition of sulfide regrind milling and flotation sections.|
|•||The second phase, Syama 2, added additional crushing and stockpiling capacity and another mill.|
The phased approach allowed operations to continue while the additional plant was being installed.
In July 1997, we installed 10 additional refurbished Fairbanks Morse, or FBM generators at the Syama power plant. The first was installed in July 1997 with the subsequent machines scheduled to arrive every 2 months thereafter. The additional 18 MW of power supply would bring the total available power to 33 MW on site. This would more than satisfy the steady state operational requirement of 17 MW, with a start-up requirement of a further 5 MW making a total of 22 MW on start-up. The FBM generators were subsequently derated, however, from 1.8 MW to 1.4 MW and two MTU, or back-up, generators were ordered.
In September 1998, progress with Syama 1 resulted in operational steady state of 140,000 to 150,000 tonnes per month being achieved, close to plan of 160,000 tonnes per month. Costs had been reduced to below $270 per ounce, thus achieving higher ounce output at lower cost. We planned further reductions in costs to $210 per ounce for Syama 2 by an increase in mill throughput to 210,000 tonnes per month, which would have resulted in a further improvement in absorption of fixed costs. The steady state power requirement was now 14 MW plus 5 MW for start up. Total installed power was now 22 MW, comprising 10 MW from the 10 Caterpillar units and 12 MW from the eight FBM units.
In November 1998, a portion of Syama 2 was commissioned. The mine plan called for ore production of 210,000 tonnes per month. The mines installed power supply gave an average available capacity of 24 MW, ranging from 18 MW to 30 MW. The installed generators were comprised of 10 MW from the 10 Caterpillar units, 12 MW from the eight FBM units and 8 MW from the two MTU units. The steady state power operating requirement was 17 MW, plus five MW for start up.
From this point on, however, we began to encounter problems with our power supply. The FBM generators were under pressure and were failing from time to time. The back-up MTU units (4 MW each) were commissioned, and provided some back-up capacity, but were not intended to be in continuous operation. The new power demand, being so close to the available power level made steady state operation unachievable and power interruptions were frequent. Our production became unsteady as required power was only just matched by installed power. When available power dropped below 22 MW, sufficient reserve was not available to allow the Syama 2 installation to start up, allowing only the Syama 1 phase to operate. The frequent power interruptions caused motor damage and plant downtime resulting in an unsteady operation and lower plant yields.
Between November 1998 and April 1999, we worked closely with representatives of O'Brien Energy Services, the distributor of the FBM generators, to remedy the problems with the FBM generators. Additionally, we worked closely with representatives of Coltech Inc., the manufacturers of the FBM generators. The Coltech representatives determined that the FBM generators should be refitted with original FBM replacement parts, which were put on order in March 1999.
In April 1999, we decided that the mine's power requirements should be supplied by outsourcing to experts and by using new engines. In May 1999, we invited power suppliers to submit bids, and in June 1999, we selected Rolls-Royce to supply Syama with two generators to replace some of our existing generators.
In June 1999, we agreed in principle with Rolls-Royce that it would supply two Allen 5012 engines, the first of which would be commissioned in November 1999. We also entered into a contract with Rolls-Royce under which they would manage our existing power plant until the new Allen engines were commissioned by Rolls-Royce.
Following the arrival of Rolls-Royce personnel at Syama, power from the FBMs was stabilized with the delivery of original FBM parts. At this stage we had an average available capacity of 22 MW (in a range of 18 MW to 26 MW), comprising 10 MW from the 10 Caterpillar 3516 units and 12 MW from the 8 FBM units and 4 MW from the one remaining MTU unit. Less total power was available, but supply was more steady. The power requirement was now 17 MW plus 5 MW for start up. Production was more stable at 170,000 tonnes per month.
In October 1999, the first Allen machine arrived on site late, which pushed back the scheduled commissioning of the engine to February 2000. At this stage, there were no indications that any further difficulties would be experienced with the installation of Rolls-Royce power.
In December 1999, the gold price continued in a low range averaging $279 per ounce in 1999 and an impairment assessment was carried out to see if the carrying values of the assets were still applicable in view of the mine plans going forward and the current gold price scenario. As part of the assessment of the mine plan, consideration was given to the likelihood of ongoing production problems. Any future problems were judged to be limited to the interruption of plant production caused by lack of stable power supply. However, the provision of the new Rolls-Royce engines was planned to address that.
With additional throughput at a lower cost of production, Syama 1 had been a success, but Syama 2 could not yet reach a steady state. Given the progress made to date with the capital program in everything except power, the management of the power plant by Rolls-Royce, and the pending installation of a new power plant with the backing of the Rolls-Royce brand name, we believed it was reasonable to assume the plan would be achieved.
An impairment write-down of $45 million resulted from the excess of long term assets over the future cash flows of the mine. An impairment entry was made at the end of the 1999 financial year. Actual production at the Syama mine for the 12 months ended December 31, 1999 was 177,000 ounces compared to the planned 265,000.
We continued to experience delays in the commissioning of the first Rolls-Royce Allen engine, but were given assurances that the engines would be commissioned. Given the delay, in February 2000 we ordered four additional Caterpillar units to supplement the power supply. Since our Caterpillar plant was under pressure as well, with rebuilds being delayed, to maintain sufficient spinning reserve, it was necessary to replace some units, particularly since we could not take the others off-line to overhaul them.
In March 2000, the second Allen engine arrived on site. In addition, the two Caterpillar units were delivered and put on-line. We made every effort to improve cash flow, but continued interruptions resulting from inconsistent power supply started to impact on Syama's cash position, and consequently, the ability to finance the replacement of some of the mining fleet. With the higher costs and lower gold prices, the optimum strip ratio was increasing, and consequently, the requirement to finance the stripping of the waste material was increasing.
In May 2000, we selected a contract miner to assume the earth-moving operation, which involved drilling, blasting, loading and hauling services in accordance with our plan. We believed that a contract miner could perform these functions more cheaply and efficiently than we could on our own.
In June 2000, in view of the lower levels that had been achieved against our plan to that time, we reduced the anticipated annual production levels in our plan for projecting future cash flows. We deemed that there were indications of impairment of the Syama mine and tested the Syama operation for impairment.
In the third quarter of 2000, Syama instructed Rolls-Royce to remove their equipment from the operations. Syama made this request even though the contract with Rolls-Royce did not expressly provide that Rolls-Royce was in breach of the contract. At that time, Rolls-Royce was also on site at Syama under contract to operate Syama's existing power plant.
In October 2000, two Caterpillar units were delivered and put on-line. The contract miner established on-site and assumed earth-moving operations. We also held a strategic review for Syama and adopted a 30-month mine plan to extract the remaining ore from the pit. The plan contemplated ceasing mining activities at the end of January 2001, after removing the remaining exposed ore in the north of the pit, and processing stockpiles for the remainder of the 30-month period.
The first Allen 5012 unit commenced testing in late November 2000 and Rolls-Royce claimed to have commissioned the second Allen engine in January 2001. We disputed this claim, since power interruptions continued. During the Rolls-Royce power trials, plant availability was severely impaired as a result of the frequent power outages affecting the entire plant, which also resulted in equipment motor damage.
In February 2001, our board ratified the decision to put the mine on care and maintenance. The mine's management rejected claims that the second Allen engine was commissioned. We suspended mining operations. Rolls-Royce continued to try to commission the first Allen engine.
In March 2001, the earth-moving fleet was parked to be renovated for sale, and the contract miner was de-mobilized. Given our experience with contract mining, we believe that contract mining would be the appropriate method to use on any future start-up, and that a contract miner could perform blasting, loading and handling services at a lower cost than if we performed those services on our own. The Morila mine employs a contract miner for these types of services.
In April 2001, the number 1 Allen engine failed catastrophically. We formally rescinded the Rolls-Royce contract. We believe we were entitled to rescind the contract as a matter of law, although rescission was not an express remedy under the contract. Shortly following the rescission, Rolls-Royce made an informal oral offer to us to supply alternative power. We rejected the offer, as a scale back in operations removed the need for additional power.
We never recognized a capital lease obligation in our financial statements in connection with our contract with Rolls-Royce because there was no obligation on our part to pay for either engine unless and until an engine was commissioned. None of the Rolls-Royce engines were ever commissioned.
By December 2001, 705,000 tonnes of stockpiles had been processed. As part of a constant review of the mine's future, and with no indications of a sustained rally in the gold price, we estimated the future available stockpiles as being uneconomic. Process operations stopped and the plant was put on care and maintenance in December 2001.
Syama has been on care and maintenance for the 2002 and 2003. Management focus in this period was the clean-up of the process plant and actively seeking a new investor for the mine.
On April 16, 2003 we entered into a heads of agreement with Resolute. Under this agreement we gave Resolute a 12 month option to acquire our entire interest in our wholly-owed subsidiary, RRL Somisy, for $6 million, plus a quarterly royalty payment based on the gold price. RRL Somisy owned 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.
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 us has already been settled. The agreement entered into in June 2004 between the parties makes provision for the payment of a royalty by Resolute to us. 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. This royalty payment is capped at $25 million.
No additional drilling or analysis has been completed by Somisy on the Syama geology since the end of 2001. The deposit occurs on the Syama-Boundiali Shear Zone within the Birrimian formations of southern Mali. The gold mineralization is structurally controlled and is hosted within a one kilometer wide sequence of altered basalts and metasediments. Mineralization in the main ore body occurs over an 800 meter strike and has been confirmed by diamond drilling to be open at depths of 600 meters below surface.
In addition to the main deposit, nine satellite ore bodies have previously been partially exploited for their oxide potential in the 200 km2 lease area, providing 25% of the total milled ore to date. We believe that there is still additional potential associated with these oxides and the underlying sulfide ore bodies.
Human Resources and Industrial Relations
The care and maintenance workforce for the year remained constant with a total of 17 Malian nationals and 1 expatriate. In addition, up to 90 Malian nationals were employed to assist Resolute in their due diligence program, and for site security.
Environmental Responsibility and Community Development
Rehabilitation work during the first half of 2003 concentrated on erosion control at the satellite sites A21, Quartz Vein Hill and BA01. We completed this with the aid of local labor and expertise from Sikasso. Some 5,000 indigenous trees were infill planted with the assistance of the local villagers.
While Resolute continued its due diligence, no rehabilitation work was done on the main Syama pit, North, West and South rock stacks or the extension pits. This ensures that these assets will remain immediately available should the opportunity to re-open the operation arise.
During the third quarter of 2003, management formed a partnership with U.S. AID and the Malian Ministry of Mines to launch a sustainable development initiative across the Fourou Commune. The objective of the initiative is to establish sustainable revenue generating family agri-businesses with the focus on ensuring a reliable source of food and income for villages. The businesses that have been set up to date are:
|•||Irrigated gardens at Bananso and Syama;|
|•||Animal husbandry in several villages surrounding Syama; and|
|•||Stocking of the extension pits with fish (which will be harvested on a six monthly basis).|
Somisy awaits funding for the Fourou Commune Trust Fund that was agreed by the International Finance Corporation when they exited Somisy in exchange for us acquiring its shareholding in Syama.
On December 15, 2002, we entered into a settlement agreement with Randgold & Exploration, Somisy, Rolls-Royce Power Ventures Limited, SYPPS and Operation d'Energie de Syama S.A. regarding our outstanding litigation relating to a contract for the supply of power generating equipment to the Syama gold mine. As a result of this agreement, all parties have withdrawn their claims. Under this agreement, we, Somisy and Randgold & Exploration agreed to pay SYPPS a total amount of $5.3 million in three installments for the balance of plant. Resolute assumed the outstanding balance of this settlement when it acquired the Syama mine. The equipment is to be returned to Rolls-Royce Power Ventures Limited which will remove the equipment from the mine site at its expense.
Resolute also assumed the rehabilitation liability of the Syama mine as part of the acquisition.
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 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 monthly cross-checks 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, 2004.