Kibali - The Democratic Republic Congo, one of the world's biggest gold producers, on Friday formally opened one of the continent's largest gold mines in the far north-east of the country.
Production at the Kibali mine started in the third quarter of 2013 but Mining Minister Martin Kabwelulu on Friday attended an official ceremony in the Province-Orientale region.
Kibali Goldmines, which develops the mine, is a joint venture 45 percent owned by South African mining firm Randgold Resources, with another 45 percent stake held by South Africa's AngloGold Ashanti and 10 percent by the Congolese state.
The $2.5-billion project reportedly created 7 000 jobs, 80 percent of them held by Congolese.
Kibali Goldmines said the mine should have reserves until 2031, with 550 000 ounces of gold expected to be produced this year.
The mine is thought to have reserves of 11.6 million ounces of gold but could be higher.
DR Congo has massive resources of gold, copper and cobalt but also diamonds, iron, nickel, manganese, bauxite, uranium and cassiterite, the most important source of tin. However most of the country's people live in poverty.
Control over the mineral-rich areas is one of the factors in the conflicts that have raged in eastern DR Congo for decades. - Sapa-AFP