"Ivory Coast is one of the last pieces of ground in the world that remains underexplored and holds huge potential. Adding to its unique geology, the government has also put into place a competitive fiscal regime for gold investment and operates at a high level of transparency."
Could you start by introducing Tietto Minerals and the company’s evolution since 2010?
I founded Tietto Minerals in May 2010 to find and develop world class gold mines. I was based in Australia and identified West Africa as being highly prospective and unexplored and began my gold project search in Liberia. At the time, Liberia was a hotspot for gold exploration, but the Ebola outbreak in 2014 hit the country badly. Fortunately, we had already developed a presence in Ivory Coast by then, just at the end of that country's domestic crisis. Tietto Minerals was, in fact, one of the very first arrivals in the minerals’ exploration space, which gave us a great chance at finding a great deposit. This happened shortly with the discovery of the Abujar gold project. We have been drilling this property since 2015, growing the resource significantly; in particular, in November last year we updated the resource to 45.5 million mt at 1.5 g/mt Au for 2.15 million oz gold, and just in October this year we updated the new resources to 81.2 million mt at 1.2 g/mt Au for 3.02 million oz gold with our AG deposit alone hosting 49.9 million mt at 1.5 g/mt Au for 2.30 million oz gold, all this from just over 60,000 m diamond drilling since last November resource update.
Could you give us more details into the characteristics of the Abujar deposit, including size, grades, and metallurgy?
Based on our October 2020 gold resource, we are looking at an open pit mining study that will focus on the 2.3 million oz AG resource at 1.5 g/mt, which is attractive for the region; however, more impressive is that, within this resource there are 1.6 million oz at 2.2 g/mt within a 1.4 km strike length, and this is where the main pit will be located. Moreover, there is immense upside potential because we have only drilled 10% of a land area of 1,114 km2. The drilling to date has been focused on a limited portion of the middle exploration license, which is then adjoined by the equally large northern and southern licenses straddling the same gold mineralisation corridor over a strike length of 70 km. The metallurgy of the deposit is one of the most important features: based on our detailed metallurgical test work conducted this year, the nature of the ore is relatively soft, very easy to process, with gold recovery rates between 96% to 98% at a grinding size of between 180 µm and 106 µm. This translates into a very simple flowsheet, single-stage crusher with SAG mill circuit (SSAG), factors which will translate into savings on both CAPEX and OPEX.
What can you share about Ivory Coast’s cost structure and the country’s overall climate for exploration?
Ivory Coast is one of the last pieces of ground in the world that remains underexplored and holds huge potential. Adding to its unique geology, the government has also put into place a competitive fiscal regime for gold investment and operates at a high level of transparency, so these factors make the country really outstanding from our perspective.
How has the upheaval in the gold price this year changed the investment climate for juniors?
The market is very hot for gold explorers at this stage. This situation is serving well the junior space, because gold exploration is a tough endeavour, with higher costs compared to exploration for other minerals. With fewer gold discoveries made made around the world and the emergence of gold as a safe haven option, the investment community is currently very supportive of the industry at a time when the cost of discoveries is on the rise.
Tietto Minerals has raised AU$57 million very recently. How has this raise changed the profile of your investors' base, and what is your impression of the market’s perception of the company?
Since the second quarter of this year, the market has started to realize the value of our existing resource and the huge potential it holds in terms of future definition. We are very grateful to the long-term support we have received from our existing shareholders and the high-quality of investors on our register is a real endorsement of our achievements.
Could you give us a timeframe for upcoming milestones?
With the recent approval of the Environmental and Social Impact study (ESIA approval), we are expecting in the first quarter of 2021 to deliver the PFS. After, we are scheduled to complete our DFS by the end of June next year. Meanwhile, we anticipate securing two critical milestones; the Mining License and Mining Convention in the first half of 2021, as progress on both of these are well underway.
Do you have a final message?
One of the particular features of Tietto Minerals is that we rely on our own diamond drilling team and drilling equipment, with six sets of diamond drill rigs and a team capable of drilling 7,000-8,000 diamond m/month, at a very low drilling cost of US$35/m, which is why we are operating at an extremely low cost compared to other explorers. As someone with a mining engineering background, I am very excited to bring the project into a producing mine and play to my strengths in operating it.