PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The share price of Australian junior Mali Lithium rose more than 32% on Monday, after the company announced plans to acquire the Morila gold mine from major gold producers Barrick and AngloGold Ashanti for between $22-million and $27-million.
The acquisition of Morila, in Mali, would instantly transform the ASX-listed company into a cash generating gold producer.
Morila, which poured its first gold in October 2000, laid the foundation for Barrick legacy company Randgold Resources’ growth into one of the world’s leading gold miners. Known in its heyday as “Morila the Gorilla”, the mine produced 6.9-million ounces of gold and paid more than $2.5-billion to its stakeholders in the form of taxes and dividends.
Today, it is a stockpile and tailings facility that was forecast to close in 2021. But Barrick COO for Africa and Middle East, Willem Jacobs said on Monday that a new owner could extend the life of the mine by using the existing infrastructure, applying different planning and evaluation criteria, and accessing additional satellite resources.
The project is currently producing at an annualised rate of up to 50 000 oz/y recovered gold from tailings, but Mali Lithium said that it planned to increase production by restarting openpit mining at satellite pits and at Morila itself.
The project is currently estimated to host an inferred resource of some 32-million tonnes, at 1.26 g/t gold for 1.3-million ounces of contained gold beneath and around the Morila main pit alone.
“Morila is one of West Africa’s great gold mines and we are excited and privileged to acquire a mine of Morila’s caliber with its past production plus mineral resource of 8.7-million ounces of gold. This is truly a transformative transaction for the company as we become a gold producer,” said Mali Lithium executive chairperson Dr Alistair Cowden.
“We have a unique advantage as the newest gold producer on the ASX as Morila has all the infrastructure required of an operating remote gold mine as well as the expertise of the operating team. We will benefit from the substantial sunk capital invested by the previous owners over the last 20 years.”
Cowden said that Mali Lithium was planning to use the cashflow from the current tailings retreatment at Morila to ramp up the operations through restarting openpit mining as soon as practicable.
“We are already working on defining larger resources and reserves that may support a long mine life at higher rates of gold production through a restart of mining.”
Mali Lithium has struck a binding agreement to acquire all of the shares in Morila Limited, which holds Barrick’s 40% interest in the project, as well as AngloGold’s 40% stake in the project.
The final consideration for the 80% project acquisition would be determined with reference to the closing balance of tax credits in the joint venture company.
The transaction was subject to financing, as well as government approval.