Gold exploration company Pearl Gold will not rest on its laurels once it has achieved its targeted 11 000 t/d production capacity at its 25%-owned Mali-based Kodiéran mine later this year, as it plans to expand its portfolio of assets in the area.
“We have always said that once we have reached full capacity at Kodiéran, we will spend around six months investigating other opportunities in West Africa,” Pearl Gold management board member Lutz Hartmann tells Mining Weekly.
The company recently successfully tested its second production line of 5 000 t/d which, once fully operational, will double the mine’s total production capacity.
He says that, in conjunction with the production push, the company has implemented intensive drilling programmes around the existing openpit and on other areas of the Mali concession, with the results of these programmes expected in late October.
The programme, totalling some 30 000 m of reverse circulation (RC) drilling, kicked off with an 8 000 m RC exploration reconnaissance phase on four sites in the concession and was followed by an additional 22 000 m programme, designed to extend the dimensions of the current pit.
Follow-up drilling is planned for after the current rainy season.
“The feasibility report may expand the proven reserves around the openpit, resulting in extended mining around the existing mine and the potential establishment of a mining programme at another area of the concession,” he says.
This would significantly increase the value of the assets at the company’s Kodiéran operation.
Hartmann adds that the current recovered gold grades of the processed material exceed the estimates given during the geological surveys of the mine, amounting to around 5 g/t of raw material, with a gold concentration of about 0.4 g/t in the tailings.
He says that an advantage of operating in the West Africa region is the low cost of production owing to the prevalence of openpit mining methods as opposed to underground processes.
“This is certainly an advantage of the region and its geology,” Hartmann notes.
The operation has been challenged by a lack of access to electricity from the national grid and political instability in the region, which, in April, resulted in a crucial suspension of the commissioning of the operation, following the departure of several of its key suppliers and service providers.
Sourcing competent staff to complete commissioning and start the ramp-up to design capacities presented a significant operational problem.
“While this did delay us somewhat, the majority of these issues have been resolved,” he says.
Pearl Gold is in the process of listing on the regulated market of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, which, Hartmann asserts, will increase its level of transparency and result in the submission of more regulated information.
“This listing is significant as there are very few companies that operate exclusively in Africa and are listed in Europe, and very few gold mining companies listed in Germany. It is an important step,” he notes.