As Africa’s second largest gold producer, having produced and exported gold for centuries, Ghana is well on its way to reclaiming the top spot as Africa’s largest gold producer.
Notwithstanding the handful of mining companies that are developing Greenfield gold projects in the country, the redevelopment of the historic Obuasi gold mine by gold major AngloGold Ashanti and the reawakening of the historic Akrokeri and Homase mines by AIM-listed gold developer GoldStone Resources, could significantly increase the country’s gold output in the near term, CHANTELLE KOTZE writes.
Both the Obuasi and Akrokeri-Homase projects, which lie 12 km along strike to one another, are located on the Ashanti Belt in Ghana – the most prolific gold producing district in Africa and one of the most prospective gold belts in the world.
GoldStone Resources has made significant progress in transforming from an explorer into a development company since CEO Emma Priestley took to the helm in 2016.
Since then Priestley has brought in two strategic shareholders, namely Paracale Gold and BCM Investment Limited.
Meanwhile, the company’s non-executive chairperson Bill Trew, who was appointed in 2017, is also the chairman of MAED Group, which has completed EPCM and turnkey projects for many of the world’s leading gold mining companies.
According to GoldStone Resources COO Darryl Norton, the company will use the support and expertise of its strategic shareholders and management team, who have a proven track record in building gold mines, to blaze a clear pathway to production by mid-2020.
The company’s historic assets includes the Akrokeri underground mine which was mined between 1906 and 1909 producing about 75 000 oz of gold during this operating period at a recovered grade of about 24 g/t after which it was closed due to flooding, while the Homase open pit was mined between 2002 and 2003 producing about 52 000 oz of gold during this period at a head grade of 2.85 g/t.
Project progress at a glance
At Akrokeri, which is 4 km directly from Homase, Norton explains that the company has already accessed the old Akrokeri mine via a new exploratory shaft, measuring 3 m x 3 m, to approximately 33 m below surface.
The company has also reopened and made safe the first 30 m of the existing North shaft, which was used in the early 1900s and is reported to be 190 m in depth.
The aim of this is to use these shafts to access the ore body in Ghana to enable the mapping and sampling of the ore body. A scoping study is also under way to strategically locate material to produce a sample for a bulk test-work programme.
Meanwhile at Homase, which lies within an 8 km gold-in-soil anomaly, of which 4 km is host to the company’s 602 000 oz gold resource (grading at an average 1.77 g/t), the company is investigating the possibility of mining the weathered ore, located within the top 30 m below surface on both the north and south sides of the existing Homase pit, which will likely all be free dig material.
To do so, the company is currently underway with two key work streams, the Definitive Economic Plan and the Environmental Impact Assessment. These studies will also form the basis of the company’s mining licence application.
The company envisions that with the establishment of a gravity gold recovery plant, possibly combined with a heap leach facility at Homase in Ghana, the mine could produce early revenue with minimal capital outlay, Norton explains.
Once it begins generating revenue from Homase, the company will be in a better cash position to unlock future high-grade underground operations in the next five years or more.
Depending on market conditions, GoldStone Resources will look at its exploration project in Senegal and also look to expand its footprint throughout Africa, Norton concludes.