NEWCREST Mining put its Bonikro mine in Ivory Coast on strategic review mid-way through 2017. The operation is tiny in Newcrest’s life which, at production of 138,000 oz, was about 5% of total group production in 2017. It’s also the second-highest all-in sustaining cost (AISC) producer which is important because Biswas is on a drive to lower costs. Not all is lost, however. Biswas said that among the strategic options for the mine – which has three years of life left – is to invest in a cutback of the Bonikro open pit. It may even continue producing gold until 2022 from low-grade stockpiles. Bonikro contributed $38m in free cash flow last year and is forecast to produce up to 140,000 oz of gold in the current year. Despite Newcrest’s marginal involvement in African mining, it’s worth remarking that it remains interested in searching the continent for new gold. As Australia’s largest gold producer that’s worth something, and includes a joint venture with Randgold Resources, signed last year. Biswas said the company was happy to be a non-operator given Randgold’s African expertise. Newcrest also has a clutch of other exploration properties, most notably Ivory Coast’s Seguela. It is also in joint venture with Harmony Gold at the Wafi-Golpu prospect in Papua New Guinea, and sold its 50% stake in that country’s Hidden Valley mine to Harmony for the princely sum of $1.00.
LIFE OF SANDEEP
A chemical engineer, Biswas arrived in Brisbane, Australia when he was six after his father took up a teaching job in mining and metallurgy at the University of Queensland. He began his career at Mt Isa Mines before taking up posts with Western Mining and Rio Tinto, where he had significant exposure to the aluminium industry. Newcrest impaired A$2.5bn the month before Biswas started work as CEO and MD. A vegan pescetarian, Biswas enjoys fly-fishing and golf.
- Web Address: www.newscrest.com.au