With an abatement in civil hostilities in Ethiopia, Aim-listed gold and copper explorer and developer Kefi Minerals met with the Ethiopian Ministries of Mines and Finance in the fourth quarter of 2021, to help align expectations towards normal conditions for international project financing and the timing for the launch of the Tulu Kapi gold project.
Also, in November 2021, Kefi achieved the unconditional, safe and unharmed release of four of its personnel after they were taken hostage in September and October.
During the three months to December 31, the company essentially completed technical and legal due diligence, while advancing detailed documentation, the arrangement of insurances and other normal requirements for project finance for Tulu Kapi.
As a result, Kefi expects to launch the Tulu Kapi project early this year, subject to the continuing improvement of the security situation and the satisfaction of normal conditions precedent for financing such a project.
Kefi executive chairperson Harry Anagnostaras-Adams says that, during the fourth quarter of 2021, security events in Ethiopia stalled the company’s progress at Tulu Kapi. “But we preserved the finance syndicate and our preparations for the project launch when security and other normal conditions are satisfied as early as possible in 2022.”
In Saudi Arabia, Kefi reports that, despite experiencing some Covid-19-related delays, such as travel bans on key staff and consultants from South Africa and Namibia, in the fourth quarter Gold & Minerals (G&M) maintained its progress, completing the Hawiah Phase 4 drilling programme.
This, combined with Phase 3, totalled 29 800 m of drilling, leading to the publicly reported expected exploration target for a 30% increase in resource tonnage and 5% increase in grade.
The company also updated Hawiah’s mineral resource estimate, putting it at 24.9-million tonnes, up from the 19.3-million tonnes reported in August 2020.
As such, contained metal is now valued at about $4-billion, comprising 223 000 t of copper at
$9 750/t, 210 000 t of zinc at $3 590/t, 497 000 oz of gold at $1 830/oz and 7.8-million ounces of silver at $23/oz.
As a scale-comparison with Kefi’s Tulu Kapi gold project, Hawiah’s recoverable metal is estimated to be 2.2-million gold-equivalent ounces against Tulu Kapi’s 1.2-million ounces assumed in the referred-to economic appraisals.
The Hawiah prefeasibility study (PFS) is expected to be completed this year, with development planned to follow the start of production at Tulu Kapi in 2024.
Significant outcomes of the PFS, to date, include the ability to recover all primary metals – copper, gold, zinc and silver; and Hawiah now being considered to comprise an openpit mine as well as an underground mine. This lowers initial development capital requirements.
G&M was also granted two new exploration licences near to Hawiah – the Al Godeyer (AG) licences, which are considered to contain a direct geological analogue of the Hawiah deposit, evident from reconnaissance exploration to date.
Kefi also reports that G&M has received informal indications from the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Mineral Resources that the long-standing application for a mining licence at Jibal Qutman gold project will progress this year.
The Jibal Qutman gold project is where Kefi made its first discovery in Saudi Arabia with a maiden mineral resource estimate in excess of 700 000 oz of gold.
As for Kefi’s corporate events in the fourth quarter, the company significantly derisked its balance sheet by removing liabilities of £5.7-million through the issue of equity; and added £500 000 of net cash to working capital from joint venture partner contributions and shareholder advances, pending project finance closing for Tulu Kapi.