The up-and-coming jurisdiction that has investors excited
Ivory Coast’s rich terrain, blessed with the largest share of the famed Birimian Greenstone belt, was broadly inaccessible to miners prior to 2012, when a gruelling military crisis that had lasted a decade finally ended. Ever since peace was re-established, Ivory Coast has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. However, the October 2020 presidential elections, concluding with the former President Alassane Ouattara controversially re-running and winning a third term in office, send a chilling message about the country’s democracy. Ivory Coast reached record gold production in 2019, boosting its annual output by 35% after Perseus’ Sissingué mine came into production. Sissingué is the second mine that Perseus Mining runs in Ivory Coast, and the low-cost mine is expected to produce 80,000 oz/y of gold for the first three years, for a total production of 358,000 oz over the five-year LOM. This deposit adds to the country’s total resources and reserves, including Barrick’s Tongon mine, and Perseus’ Yaouré mine.
“Ivory Coast reminds me of Burkina Faso about ten years ago when there was a big mining boom in the country. Investors would go to Burkina Faso to get a permit and their share prices climbed immediately.”
Peter Ledwidge, Managing Director, Mako Gold
“We went to Ivory Coast almost coincidently, while we were pursuing lithium, but once in the country, we witnessed the preliminary phases of a gold rush. Seizing the opportunity, we ended up with the several JVs we currently hold.”
Vincent Mascolo, CEO, IronRidge Resources
On the exploration side, the country has not ceased to reward juniors with impressive finds: Tietto Minerals, one of the first entering the country in 2014, is developing a deposit of at least 3.01 million oz. IronRidge Resources came later to the country, but it quickly became one of the largest tenure holders. In its 36,000 km2 land package, it has identified three projects, out of which Zaranou became a flagship, showing intersections of 6 m at 11 g/mt Au, with eight targets to date. Vincent Mascolo, CEO of IronRidge Resources, believes more opportunity lies at depth: “We are potentially looking at a two-phased mining operation; one simple gravity processing for the top weathered zone from surface to on average 50 m deep, but it is what sits below those 50 m that really interests us. I anticipate the discoveries at depth will ignite the market in the coming months.”
“When you combine the willingness of governments and communities to attract mining, coupled with the significant mineral wealth of the region, we believe that West Africa is one of the best regions to operate globally.”
John Dorward, President & CEO, Roxgold
Mako Gold’s JV project with Perseus, the Napié project, also shows the characteristics of a large deposit, believed to be in the range of 2 to 3 million oz by the managing director, Peter Ledwidge. Fully funded, the junior is ready to follow up on a 20,000 m of RC and DD drilling completing to date on five prospects, and it is keen to outline a maiden JORC resource on the main target, Tchaga, by Q1 of 2021. Meanwhile, Roxgold’s Séguéla, currently at 900,000 oz of resource in the preliminary study, has chances to turn into a multi-million oz mine. These upcoming, encouraging projects suggest a healthy exploration pipeline not far from actualizing the country’s production output.
Combining the great geographical positioning of countries like Ghana with the untapped mineral resources of Burkina Faso or Mali, and with a transparent online available cadastre system and a growing services sector prepared for the influx of new investors, Ivory Coast is unrivalled in terms of its opportunities. The outcome of elections is re-opening questions over the country’s stability, as well as causing delays to permit applications in the short term, but the country remains well positioned for future growth.
Image courtesy of Roxgold