The Loulo and Gounkoto mines, known as the Loulo-Gounkoto complex, are located in the west of Mali. The mines are situated within the Kedougou-Kenieba inlier of Birimian rocks which hosts a number of big gold deposits in Mali, including Gara, Yalea, Gounkoto, Sadiola, Segala and Tabakoto as well as Sabodala across the border in Senegal.

Société des Mines de Loulo SA (Loulo SA) owns the Loulo gold mine and Société des Mines de Gounkoto (Gounkoto SA) owns the Gounkoto gold mine. Both Loulo SA and Gounkoto SA are owned by Randgold (80%) and the State of Mali (20%).

The complex originally comprised a single permit but after the discovery of Gounkoto it was split into two separate permits in 2012, with Gounkoto representing the southern portion of the original permit. Randgold’s flagship operation comprises the Yalea open pit mine, the Yalea and Gara underground mines, the Gounkoto open pit mine and a number of satellite pits.

Production from open pit operations started at Loulo in 2005. This was followed by the development of the underground mines. Gounkoto, a greenfields discovery in 2009, poured its first gold in June 2011. The ore from Gounkoto is processed by the Loulo plant under a tolling agreement. Based on current reserves, the complex has a scheduled Life of Mine to 2027.

Now firmly established as a long-life, high-production operation, the complex is targeting gold production of 640 000oz in 2014. In the meantime, the potential for an underground mine at Gounkoto is being assessed, along with a number of new satellite deposits.