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AMN - GHANA: Wa gold reserve exceeds 1 million ounces

Azumah Resources has increased the ore reserve at its Wa Gold Project in Ghana by 65% to more than 1 million ounces. The project, which looks set to be Ghana’s next commercial-scale gold mine, is in the country’s far northwest, along the border with Burkina Faso.

The new reserve and other near-term catalysts have been outlined at the Investing in African Mining Indaba 2019 in Cape Town this week.

The company expects to make a development decision later this year as it investigates additional targets and production opportunities.

A feasibility study update based on the new ore reserve has put forward an 11-year operational life producing an average of 107,000 ounces of gold a year in its first six years.

The study details a pre-tax net present value of US$177 million at a 5% discount, an internal rate of return of 35% and a pre-tax net cash flow of US$270 million inclusive of government royalties.

Wa will have a low established capital intensity of US$114 per ore reserve ounce and an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of US$886 an ounce.

This will underpin strong operating margins that will see the US$117 million establishment capital paid back in 1.6 years.

The average grade of ore processed over the first eight years of operation will be 2.06 g/t gold, the average life-of-mine gold recovery will be 91% and average annual life-of-mine plant throughput is to be 1.6 million tonnes.

The scope of the feasibility study is based on the mining of a series of relatively shallow open pits.

If underground mining was proven viable at any of these, it would add considerable value to the overall project.

The prospect of underground mining and Wa’s vast tenure provide multiple opportunities to complement the project’s production growth.

Azumah has secured 15-year mining leases from the Ghanaian government, as well as strong local endorsement, and is advancing environmental operating permits.

Managing director Stephen Stone said the Wa project had transformed into an extremely compelling development opportunity.

He said: “This is without even considering the evolving prospect of underground mining presented by the recent discovery of high-grade below-pit mineralisation at Kunche and Bepkong.

“Full credit to our joint venture partner and project manager Ibaera Capital, which has increased ore reserves by 65% to over 1 million ounces and redefined the project with operational and financial metrics that unequivocally reposition it up with its peers.

“The Wa Gold Project is now well primed to be Ghana’s next commercial-scale gold mine, with mining leases already granted, EPA permits well advanced, grid power to site and the strong support of the Ghana government.

“The remainder of 2019 will be dedicated to finalising the feasibility study and putting everything in place for a development decision.

“We also have several opportunities to materially enhance the project, not least through continued exploration of our vast 2400sqkm prospective tenure – and these are all being vigorously pursued.”

The company has progressively grown the resource by exploring its 2,400-square-kilometre licence holdings over large areas of prospective Birimian terrain, the rocks that host most of West Africa’s gold mines.

Azumah plans to continue drilling and growing the Wa resource and is fully funded to a development decision in the September quarter of 2019.