ABIDJAN, April 27 (Reuters) - Gold production from Randgold Resources's Tongon mine in northern Ivory Coast will hit 260,000 ounces this year, up from 233,591 ounces in 2013, the company said.
Mark Bristow, Randgold's CEO, said that if gold prices remained between $1,200 and $1,300 per ounce, the $480 million spent on the Tongon mine would be repaid by 2015 and investors in the operation would start receiving dividends.
Randgold is one of the main gold miners in Ivory Coast, which produced around 12 tonnes of gold last year. The government hopes output will rise to around 25 tonnes by 2015 as new mines come on stream.
Speaking in Ivory Coast late on Saturday, Bristow said the increased output would come from improved recovery rates at the mine and production would rise consistently over the next five years.
The Tongon mine, which poured its first gold in 2010, is expected to produce for another seven years but Bristow said the firm was confident that exploration elsewhere, especially in Mankono, also in the north, would yield new resources.
Ivory Coast's economy is dominated by the cocoa crop, which is the biggest in the world. However, as it recovers from a decade of political crisis, conflict and economic stagnation, it is looking to diversify.
Bristow said that the new mining code would accelerate the country's shift to also becoming a major gold producer.
"Investors are deterred by the political and infrastructural risks associated with Africa, but in Ivory Coast we have shown how these challenges can be overcome by a true partnership between a mining company, the government and the people," he said. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Sophie Walker)