Gold in Burkina Faso

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Burkina Faso aims to produce 15-20 tonnes of gold a year by 2009 as new mines come on line after an eight-year halt in commercial output. It equates to around 480,000-640,000 oz. The last commercial mine closed in 1999 after gold prices sank below $300 an oz and foreign prospectors left.


Birimian-age greenstone belts cover large parts of Burkina Faso and host the known structurally controlled mineralization.
  • Orezone Resources (Canadian, TSX:OZN.TO; Amex:OZN, and also active in Niger) is exploring a number of properties including Essakane, where Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI; JSE:GFIELDS) is the operator, earning 60%. The Essakane deposit hosts an 1,9 million oz indicated resource at 1,60 g/t Au and 1,5 million oz of inferred resource at 1,70 g/t Au (0,50 g/t Au cut-off). Further drilling by Gold Fields increased the indicated resource to 2,6 million oz at a cut-off of 1 g/t or an indicated resource of 3,3 million oz and inferred 800,000 oz of gold at a cut-off of 0,5 g/t (April, 2007). The pre-feasibility study showed that an open cast mine and a 5,4 million tonne/year carbon-in-leach plant were viable and could produce 300,000 oz of gold a year. Gold Fields sold its 60% stake in the Essakane gold prospect in Burkina Faso for $200m to its partner in the project, Canada's Orezone Resources, in September, 2007.
    "While the Essakane project is expected to make a good return and deserves to be built, Gold Fields’ relatively small stake in the project mitigates against it becoming a Gold Fields franchise asset," said Gold Fields CEO Ian Cockerill.
    The prospect has four million ounces of measured and indicated resources and 1.3 million ounces of inferred resources at a 0.5 g/t cut-off. It would cost $346m and take 18 months to build a mine and CIL plant with an annual capacity of 5.4 million tonnes.
    The mine is envisioned to produce 292,000 oz of gold a year at a cash cost of US$356/oz.
    Orezone will decide whether it will pay Gold Fields $150m in cash and $50m in shares or the entire amount in cash. Gold Fields has spent $47m on the project already. Intiédougou (Golden Hill) has an inferred resource of 157 000 oz gold at 1,4 g/t Au.
    The Bondi deposit has an indicated resource of 162 964 oz at 2,88 g/t Au. The Sega deposit has an inferred resource of 300 000 oz at 2,8 g/t Au. The Bombore deposit has a resource of 1,1 million oz gold at an average grade of 1,5 g/t Au. Licences also cover known gold occurrences at Tomena and Seguenega.
  • Goldbelt Resources Ltd (Canadian, GLDRF.PK, GLD.V) is exploring the Inata deposits, an estimated resource of 15,65 million tonnes grading an average of 1,9 g/t Au (948,000 oz gold) in the measured and indicated categories and 4,06 million tonnes grading 1,4 g/t gold (190,000 oz Au) in the inferred category, as well as known occurrences at Belahouro, Houndé, Bougouriba. (The Bougouriba belt, south of Houndé, is currently host to 20,000 artisanal miners) and at Quedrogo, Koupela region. The updated resource estimate for Iata in July, 2007, was 25.1 MT @ 1.7 g/t gold for 1,396,930 ounces of Measured and Indicated Resources (5.2 MT @ 2.3 g/t gold for 378,480 ounces of Measured Resources and 19.8 MT @ 1.6 g/t gold for 1,018,450 ounces of Indicated Resources) and an additional 7.1 MT @ 1.3 g/t gold for 297,910 ounces of Inferred Resources (includes the Sayouba and Minfo resources as previously estimated). This new estimation, calculated by Multiple Indicator Kriging using an 0.5 g/t gold cut-off grade, represents a 16% increase in the tonnage and a 16% increase in the contained gold of Measured and Indicated Resources from the previous estimate completed in March 2007. On October 4, 2007 Goldbelt announced the results of the Final Feasibility Study for the Inata Project which was coordinated and compiled by GBM Minerals Engineering Consultants Limited of London, England. The Study outlines a 2,250,000 tonnes per annum mill throughput utilizing a cyanide-in-leach process plant and cash operating costs of US$ 336/oz. The project will have a 7 year mine life with payback after 2.7 years at a US$650/oz gold price. The Internal Rate of Return for the project is 49.75% and the undiscounted Net Present Value is US$128.0 million. Goldbelt Resources Ltd. announced on December 13, 2007, that Wega Mining ASA, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Wega Mining Inc, bought a controlling interest in the company. Wega Mining ASA is an Oslo-based international mining company focused on exploring, developing and operating gold, copper and zinc deposits. Wega Mining currently holds exploration licenses in Guinea, Canada, Portugal, Ecuador, Romania and Norway, and a gold-copper development project in Canada. The Goldbelt license portfolio in southwest Burkina Faso has been expanded considerably from 7 licenses occupying 1,655 km2 to 14 licenses covering 3,184km2 due to the recent acquisition of the Barrick projects in Burkina Faso
  • Semafo Inc's (Canadian, TSX:SMF.TO; SEMFF.PK, and operating the Kineiro mine in Guinea and Samira Hill mine in Niger) Mana project with the Nyafé and Wona deposits totalling 9,443,000 tonnes of ore at an average grade of 2,89 g/t Au. Following the detailed drilling work done during 2007 and the updating of operating costs taking into account increased gold prices from $450 to $550 per ounce, Mana mineral reserves increased by 3% compared to 9,196,700 tonnes of ore having an average grade of 3.06 g/t and containing 902,900 oz of gold over 2006.
  • Goldcrest Resources Ltd (Canadian, GCL.V} is exploring the Gaoua copper-gold and Kampti and Titao Sud gold projects in Burkina Faso. The drilling of the Gaoua Cu-Au prospect is being executed under an option agreement that the company signed with Phelps Dodge Exploration Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. Most of the breccia-hosted mineralization consists of hypogene chalcopyrite with which gold values appear to be closely correlated. Canadian gold exploration companies Birim Goldfields and Goldcrest Resources have agreed to merge, they said on January 30, 2008. Both companies own property in Burkina Faso, and Birim is also exploring in neighbouring Ghana.
  • AXMIN Inc (Canadian, TSXv:AXM, and also active in the Central African Republic, Mali, Sierra Leone and Senegal) sold its interest in the Bouroum project to High River Gold Mines.
  • Cluff Gold plc (CLF.L) is exploring the Kalsaka deposit located approximately 150 km north west of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. The orebodies identified to date at the project comprised within the exploitation decree, contain a mineral resource of 600,000 oz of gold (13,7 million t@1,4 g/t) and, at a gold price of US$400 per ounce, an ore reserve of 290,000 oz of gold (5,1 million t@1,8 g/t). Cluff wants to produce 60 000 oz of gold per year.
  • High River Gold Mines Ltd (Canadian, TSX:HRG.TO) has an indicated 8,6 million tonnes at a grade of 3,0 g/t Au or 827 000 oz gold at the Taparko-Bouroum project. High River Gold Mines announced commercial production at its Taparko-Bouroum gold mine, in Burkina Faso in September, 2007.
    The criteria established for commercial production required all components of the processing plant to operate for 30 consecutive days at 60% capacity or more.
    Mill throughput during the 30-day period, which ended on September 24, totalled 60 825 t, which represents an average capacity usage of 74%.
    High River Gold said in a statement that the mill was currently operating at over 80% capacity.
    The Taparko-Bouroum gold mine produced 3 623 oz of gold during the 30-day commercial production evaluation period.
    Gold production for 2007 was expected to total about 30 000 oz, with production for the year planned at 100 000 oz, and rising to over 140 000 oz in the third year of operation. About 214 000 t of ore remain stockpiled, ready for processing.
  • Jilbey Gold Exploration Ltd (now merged with High River Gold)has drilled out a measured and indicated 1,373 million tonnes grading 3,33 g/t or 147 250 oz gold at Bissa Hill.
  • St Jude Resources Ltd (Canadian) is drilling a deposit at Goulagou.
  • Golden Star Resources Ltd announced in October, 2007, that it will sell its 90% stake in the Goulagou and Rounga properties, in Burkina Faso, to Riverstone Resources Inc, a Canadian gold and uranium explorer.
    The company explained that Riverstone would spend C$4-million on exploration programmes on the properties over the next four years, before it would buy the properties for $18,6-million in cash, or in common shares.
    Golden Star would also receive up to two-million shares of Riverstone over the term of the option and would receive two-million common share purchase warrants of Riverstone at exercise prices of C$0,30 to C$0,45. In 2005, Golden Star acquired the 90% stake in Goulagou and Rounga through the merger with St. Jude Resources.
  • Riverstone Resources Inc has fifteen Exploration Permits and seven separate project areas, with one to four permits in each. In total, the Company controls close to 3,000 square kilometres.
  • Sanu Resources Ltd (Canadian, SNU.V, also active in Eritrea and Morocco) has four exploration licences (Moule, Nyieme, Loto, and Kodyel) totaling 827 km².
  • Birim Goldfields Inc optioned the 223 sq. km Sangolo property in April 2007. It is located within the prospective Hounde Gold Belt which hosts Semafo's Mana Project (combined gold reserves and resources of 1,045,800 oz) and is 15 km from Orezone Resources' Bondi and Golden Hill Projects (combined gold resources of 320,000 oz). Drill planning is underway on the Baobab and Acacia zones; the sites of active artisanal mining. Canadian gold exploration companies Birim Goldfields and Goldcrest Resources have agreed to merge, they said on January 30, 2008. Both companies own property in Burkina Faso, and Birim is also exploring in neighbouring Ghana.
  • Etruscan Resources Inc (EET.TSX) reported on 5 October, 2007, that construction at its Youga Gold Mine located in Burkina Faso, is nearing completion with commissioning of the main plant circuits scheduled to be completed in November and first gold production in December.The Youga Gold Project will initially be comprised of open pit mining of five pits with the ore being processed though a conventional CIL/gravity plant having a design capacity of one million tonnes per annum. Mineable reserves are 6.6 million tonnes with an average grade of 2.7 grams per tonne containing 580,000 oz of gold. Etruscan expects to achieve commercial production at Youga in March or Apri, 2008,l with the facility targeted to produce between 60,000 to 70,000 oz of gold in calendar 2008. The company's exploration program will focus on the three different gold belts, namely: the Youga Gold Belt where a follow-up drilling is planned to ascertain a historic 200,000 ounce resource that was reported by Ashanti Goldfields; the Banfora Gold Belt, following up with a pitting and auger drilling programme on regional gold-in-soil anomalies that delineated four primary and eight secondary drill targets; and the Boromo Gold Belt where it is after expanding its strategic land package.
  • AIM Resources has added to its interests in Africa, with the acquisition of prospecting rights for two gold exploration tenements in Burkina Faso. The Naboué and Bonzan tenements cover an area of 141 km2, and 151 km2 respectively, and are situated about 20 km along strike from the formerly operating Poura gold mine. he new prospecting sites were in close proximity to the company's Perkoa zinc project, in Burkina Faso, which would allow it to use personnel and equipment resources already in the area, and start gold exploration immediately.

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