IAMGOLD Corporation says the Société d’Exploration des Mines d’Or de Yatela S.A, a joint venture between IAMGOLD (40%), AngloGold Ashanti (40%) and the government of Mali (20%), has decided to suspend mining excavation activities at the Yatela Mine in Mali effective September 30, 2013.
This decision reflects a combination of factors, including miner safety in the pit, the drop in the spot price of gold and the reduction in profit margin. Although a process of gradual dismantling of the site is planned for September 30, 2013, processing of heap leach pads and ore already mined will continue until the end of 2016, since the end of the mining activities does not yet mean the end of the mine. The Yatela mine is situated over 600 kilometres north-west of the Malian capital of Bamako and about 25 kilometres north of the Sadiola mine.
This decision will result in the conclusion of contractual arrangements with Yatela’s mining contractors (AMS & BME), who will cancel the mine workers’ contracts. AngloGold Ashanti, as the mine operator, will focus on compliance with all regulations governing the reduction of staff. With regard to the employees of Yatela SA, negotiations will continue with the labour union on any closure related issues.
Yatela’s community development activities will not be affected by the conclusion of mining activities. A new plan for social development focusing on the expansion and marketing of community development and current socio-economic projects is being developed.
All discussions relating to Yatela closure plan will continue under the supervision of the Yatela National Closure Commission until final agreement. The management of Yatela SA will engage on comprehensive communication with all stakeholders and keep the National Closure Commission informed throughout this process.
The Yatela SA Mine Project started in 1997. The mining license was issued in 2000 and the first gold poured in 2001. The initial planned life of mine was six years, and thus its closure was planned for 2007. Following various geological studies conducted by the company within the permit area, other economically exploitable deposits were discovered, and this extended the life of the mine and led Yatela SA to defer the closure date several times.
Gord Stothart, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at IAMGOLD said it has been extraordinarily difficult to extend the life of mine at Yatela given this environment of rising costs and falling gold prices.
“We recognise the contribution of the contracted and employed Malian mine workers to the Yatela mine, however, we and our partners believe that this is the best decision at this time as the mining activities at Yatela are no longer capable of making a positive contribution to any of our stakeholders. We will now be able to turn more of our attention to the mines and projects which we are more confident can make a positive contribution.”
“The recent past has been challenging for everyone in Mali, but we are pleased to see that peace and order have returned and a democratic government restored,” added President and CEO of IAMGOLD, Steve Letwin.
“We thank the Malian government for their openness and support during the process of getting our joint operations in order. While circumstances have led to this decision to wind down the mining operations at Yatela, we are hopeful that a longer-term future can be forged with our partners at the nearby Sadiola mine. We are appreciative of the government’s efforts to provide support for the transformation of Sadiola to process sulphide ore and help us find solutions to keep us engaged in mining within Mali.”