Digging Deep

Chances that recently listed Mako Gold’s flagship project, Napié, in Ivory Coast will be ready for development in five years’ time are good, MD Peter Ledwidge tells SA Mining.

The goal of the ASX-listed explorer is to off-load the project to a developer once it has proved up a resource and advanced it to feasibility.

“Our skills set as explorers will help in making a discovery and then defining a resource; thereafter new skills sets are required to take the project to production,” he explains.

If the Napié project is upgraded and sold, the remaining exploration assets in the Mako portfolio will be spun off into a separate entity to be taken up the value chain.

African gold explorer Mako Gold listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in mid-April, and raised, in its initial public offering (IPO), A$6-million, which will be used for exploration on its flagship project located in the central part of Ivory Coast, as well as on its two Burkina Faso projects.

The company hopes to be raising a further $10m to $20m in the “next 12 to 18 months to take the Napié project to scoping/feasibility study stage”.

A $2m cornerstone investment, secured from mid-tier West African and Australian gold producer Resolute Mining, together with an oversubscribed IPO, is a sign of the confidence that the market has in Mako Gold’s capacity to discover the next new gold project, explains Ledwidge.

Image: Mako’s chief geologist and crew at the artisinal gold mining site Napie in January
Image: Mako’s chief geologist and crew at the artisinal gold mining site Napie in January

Mako Gold is focused on the discovery of large high-grade gold deposits in the vastly prospective and underexplored terrains of the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso regions which are, according to Ledwidge, among the most investor-friendly areas in West Africa.

“The mining codes of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso were passed in 2014 and 2015 respectively and are therefore unlikely to be revamped in the near future.

“This offers prospective investors confidence that the mining sector is relatively stable and without the threat of uncertainty related to mining code changes in the near future, unlike Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali, which are reviewing their mining codes. Changes in mining codes leave potential investors skittish and unwilling to invest,” he explains.

“Of the more than 100 projects that we have investigated, we have identified three potential projects that will be explored – the Napié project in Ivory Coast, the Niou project in the central part of Burkina Faso and the Tangora project located in the Banfora greenstone belt in the south-west of Burkina Faso. In April we will begin with an 11 000m drilling programme that will take place over the next 12 months to hopefully make a discovery on the Napié project.”

The Napié project has extensive historic gold-in-soil geochemical anomalies over four prospect areas with historic high-grade rock chip samples of up to 59.4g/t Au, along with favourable geology and structure, artisanal gold mining, a 25km soil auger anomaly and an 11km gold-enriched (over 0.5g/tAu) RAB drilling anomaly, the company said.

Mako Gold recently entered into a farm-in and joint venture agreement on the Napié permit. According to the agreement, it has a right to earn 51% in the 299km² Napié permit by spending $1.5m over three years and 75% by sole funding to completion of a feasibility study.

Ledwidge, a geologist with over 30 years of experience, looks to replicate his success on the Napié project as he did as part of the team on the Boungou discovery. Ledwidge’s previous successes in Burkina Faso include being part of the team who made three high-grade discoveries, with two advancing to resource totalling 2.6moz gold for Orbis Gold, which was taken over by TSX-listed SEMAFO in 2015. “This includes being the team leader on the high-grade Nabanga gold deposit discovered within 10 months of permit acquisition.”

Ledwidge, the former business development manager of Orbis Gold, explains that the Boungou project (previously known as the Natougou project), a high-grade open-pit mine located in Burkina Faso, West Africa, is already under construction and set for commissioning in the second half of this year.

“The Birimian gold belt which extends from Niger through Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso has, in the past few decades, led to over 60 discoveries of more than a million gold ounce deposits, including 35 discoveries with over three million ounces. In the past 12 years, 10 gold mines have been developed, with five new gold mines currently under development or construction in Burkina Faso alone.”

According to a press release from SEMAFO, construction of the Boungou mine in Burkina Faso was already 87% complete by March, with the first gold pour scheduled for early in the third quarter of 2018.

Image: ©Shutterstock - 59623846
Image: ©Shutterstock - 59623846

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