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Gold miner showing signs of growth

An image depicting the Syama gold mine

SYAMA GOLD MINE Resolute declared about 353 000 oz of gold output throughout its assets in Senegal and Mali last year, with CEO Terry Holohan expecting Syama to produce about 160 000 oz this year from sulphides

7th April 2023

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Writer


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Despite having had to deal with a “difficult patch” over the past two years, gold miner Resolute Mining is showing signs of steady growth, with its Syama underground gold mine, in Mali, having operated above design capacity and made a small profit throughout the second half of 2022 – a first for the mine since its inception in 2019.

Resolute Mining CEO Terry Holohan tells Mining Weekly that the company has spent the last 24 months working with key engineering personnel to help turn around the underground and openpit mines as well as their plants. This involved debottlenecking all the unit operations to increase capacity, while bringing operational costs down.

“We aim to get as many units out of an operation as possible to bring down the cost curve because we are in the fourth quartile on costs and we believe that, over the next 18 months, we can bring that down to the third quartile. We are getting a lot of support from all our stakeholders and, with West Africa’s abundant resources, I think we are in the right place.”

While Resolute Mining is looking to systematically expand its underground Syama operations, the company has also conducted drilling work on the surface close to the plant, which can be accessed from the Syama North openpit. This project has yielded 3.2-million ounces of surface mineralisation containing 10% oxides and 90% sulphides since 2021.

The gold miner announced in March that its first ore reserves from this surface programme reached 850 000 oz at the end of last year, with a grade of 2.9 g/t, which Holohan says is competitive to the underground run-of-mine grades of 2.7 g/t.

“We are now maintaining our production underground at record levels of 2.4-million tonnes a year compared to the initial design of 2.1-million tonnes a year. If we want to go any further with our plant, that feed will probably come from the openpit,” he adds.

As a result, Resolute Mining will complete a prefeasibility study by midyear to confirm whether it is feasible to develop the openpit mine, especially as operating an openpit mine should be more cost effective than operating underground.

Further, while the Syama mine has reached over 10-million ounces in mineral resources along its 85 km strike, it is producing only about 230 000 oz/y, which Holohan says is “too small” for the resource base, especially considering West Africa’s abundance of gold.

Resolute declared about 353 000 oz of gold output throughout its assets in Senegal and Mali last year, with Holohan expecting Syama to produce about 160 000 oz this year from sulphides, while the openpit mines are expected to produce about 72 000 oz from oxides.

He expects the mines in Mali, and the Mako mine, in Senegal, to start ramping up production over the next two years as Resolute aims to systematically increase the production rates.

Despite having a small geological team operating in Guinea, Holohan says the gold miner will only consider embarking on new projects in the region from 2024 onwards.

Therefore, while the company is spending about $16-million on drilling exploration, the bulk of this spend is to expand existing operations in Mali and Senegal, and growing its existing assets, while reducing costs.

Sustainability Initiatives

In light of global initiatives to transition away from coal and other fossil fuels, Holohan says the company’s expansion plans will also entail renewable energy where possible.

Resolute Mining has replaced its diesel generators with a 30 MW heavy fuel oil plant at its Syama operations, coupled with a 10 MW lithium-ion battery for backup power, which services the entire operation.

While still using a fossil fuel, the total carbon footprint has been reduced by about 20%.

“This is our first toe in the water with renewable power – we are going to use the further expansions as a Trojan Horse to bring in renewable energy,” he notes.

Holohan highlights that sustainability is a core value for the company, which has established close relationships with surrounding communities through various environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives.

This rapport with the communities has, consequently, helped to mitigate the presence of artisanal miners at its operations.

“Having relationships with the community pays dividends if you do the right things over time. There has been a lot of focus on ESG recently, but we have been embarking on these initiatives for a long time now, and will continue to do so, especially with renewable energy becoming a major part of ESG performance,” he concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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