Privately owned UK-based gold exploration company Cora Gold believes there is strong potential to ultimately increase the scale of the discovery at the Sanankoro project to a size suitable for consideration as a standalone gold mine, hence the project being the primary focus of the company’s exploration projects in Mali and Senegal.
To achieve this, several years of work must first start at the 74 km2 project, about 110 km south-west of Bamako, in south Mali, before detailed engineering studies for mine development can take place, Cora Gold CEO Dr Jon Forster tells Mining Weekly.
At Sanankoro, systematic drilling and artisanal mining have shown continuity of gold mineralisation. “We believe that Sanankoro has a comparable footprint to global gold mining company AngloGold Ashanti’s Siguiri mine, in Guinea, which has been producing for 19 years, with six-million ounces remaining, and combined resources and reserves of 226-million tons at 0.85 g/t.”
Forster says sufficient drilling work has been completed at Sanankoro to indicate that the gold mineralisation discovered so far is of a quality and geometry that, with more extensive work, could be sufficient to justify the development of a future gold mine.
Expanding the discovery in length and depth at Sanankoro will require a significant amount of additional drilling. Currently, more detailed exploration has focused on two target areas, of 600 m and 1000 m length, within the 14-km-long zone. Drill intercepts to date include 2.7 g/t over 19 m, 1.7 g/t over 27 m and 9 g/t over 3 m.
Besides Sanankoro, Cora Gold holds a series of permits in south Mali, about 200 km south of Bamako which together are called the Yanfolila project area totalling 519 km2. It also holds a number of permits totalling 430 km2 in the Diangounte area located about 500 km west of Bamako in the so-called Kenieba Window, on the border between western Mali and eastern Senegal.
In the Kenieba Window, more than 50-million ounces of gold have been discovered in the past 20 years while 15-million ounces of gold have been discovered in south Mali.
The project area of Cora Gold’s Yanfolila project is at an earlier stage of exploration than that of Sanankoro, says Forster, adding that Yanfolila has had sufficient drilling to indicate the possibility of gold mineralised zones that, with further exploration, could become new discoveries.
The advantage of the Yanfolila project area is its proximity to the Yanfolila gold mine, which is owned by one of Cora Gold’s principal shareholders – multi-asset gold company Hummingbird Resources. The company owns 50% of Cora Gold, but according to Forster, this is expected to be diluted as Cora Gold progresses through the process of a public listing and financing later this year. According to Hummingbird, the first gold pour for Yanfolila is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.
Forster explains that, if Cora Gold makes gold discoveries with suitable economics and within haulage distance from the new gold plant at Yanfolila, there is a possibility that ore could be treated at the plant to the benefit of Hummingbird and Cora Gold. “To have such a possible route to cash flow . . . benefits Cora Gold, as this could fast-track the progression from exploration to production.”
Foster notes Cora Gold has completed the first and highest-risk stages of exploration at its projects, with gold targets now identified through surface sampling techniques, and early-stage reconnaissance drilling completed.
He explains that this has helped to reduce the future exploration risk of the projects, where the next stages of exploration will focus on the drilling of specific targets to make discoveries that may develop into future gold mining projects.
Collectively, Cora Gold’s team has discovered about eight-million ounces of gold at seven projects in seven jurisdictions over a period of some 25 years, Forster says, highlighting the company’s exploration experience.