Gold
Toro Gold

Private gold mining, exploration and development company Toro Gold poured first gold from its Mako mine in Senegal in January this year. It has since then masterfully delivered during the first few months of operation, outperforming some of the milestones it had set for itself, says director and CEO Martin Horgan.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 6 2018

Following the first gold pour on 26 January 2018, Toro Gold’s 90%-owned Mako gold mine has successfully transitioned into a fully-fledged gold mining operation – which the company was able to deliver one month ahead of schedule and approximately US$10 million under budget.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 6 2018

Moreover, Mako transitioned to steady-state operations at design levels of performance within a month of the first gold pour.

AUTHOR: Mining Review Africa's senior deputy editor, Chantelle Kotze.

“After a highly successful construction period, the transition to operations has gone extremely well with all aspects of the operation operating either in line or better than forecast,” says Horgan.

For the first full three months of operation until April, Toro Gold realised gold sales of 32 556 oz at US$1 325 /oz – slightly ahead of the 32 270 oz target – with three shipments of gold successful sent to the refinery in Switzerland over the period.

Mining operations, which had been ongoing since mid-2017, have progressed according to plan, delivering the planned ore tonnage and grade within contracted budget rates.

Slightly better than forecast was the mill throughput of 540 000 t at 2.34 g/t of gold versus the budget of 460 000 t at a head grade of 2.49 g/t of gold resulting from better than expected comminution abrasion characteristics.

The company also achieved better than expected metallurgical recoveries of 94.8% against the forecast of 91.3%

These early successes have set Mako on the path to deliver its year end production run rate target of 134 000 oz in 2018.

Future optimisation

As the company settles into steady-state production, its focus will begin shifting to the identification of operational enhancements to improve both production and cost performance against the current life of mine plan.

“Management’s focus for the balance of 2018 will be to identify further optimisation opportunities to improve Mako’s already excellent operating parameters,” says Horgan.

A review of the open pit mining schedule and haulage routes, powder factors and reserve calculations will be completed in parallel with a review of plant performance which will look at throughput and grind size trade-offs to determine an optimal new life of mine plan during the second half of 2018.

This is expected to be based on an updated resource model that will likely include the results of ongoing exploration works on the main deposit.

Returning to exploration

Toro Gold’s 2018 exploration programme not only focuses on identifying and investigating potential mine life extension for Mako, but also entails work at its other West African exploration permits in both Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea.

Having stopped exploring in 2014 while focusing on bringing Mako into production, Toro Gold has returned to exploration and is actively drilling to extend Mako’s mine life beyond its current eight years – by exploring beneath the existing open pit and also more regionally within 25 km of the project.

“By drilling Mako further at depth we are positive that we could extend the mine life from the current eight years to at least 10 years just by expanding the open pit,” says Horgan.

In doing so, Toro Gold will test the depth extensions beneath the current open pit mine which currently remains open at depth.

“Drilling results have already returned positive results, and may result in extension to the open pit both along strike as well as deeper.

Toro Gold also believe there is very good potential for underground mining at Mako.

“We have some good grades and intercepts below the current pit. Judging by other regional underground mining companies, we know the minimum underground mining targets need to be around 5 m grading at 5 g/t, and we have a number of intercepts at the moment that are at or above this,” Horgan explains, adding that Toro Gold could add additional open pit reserves in the short term and potentially add additional reserves in the medium term through underground potential below the current pit.

More broadly speaking, the company has a regional exploration programme in Senegal.

“We believe that if we can find ounces within 25 km of the mine they could be developed as satellite deposits,” says Horgan, noting that the company is working on a number of exploration permits for those types of opportunities.

Meanwhile outside of Senegal, Toro Gold will also be undertaking follow up work as well as reverse circulation and core drilling programmes at the Boundiali, Ferkessedougou and Ferkessedougou North exploration permits in Côte d’Ivoire, which the company has a 65% stake in via a joint venture with ASX-listed explorer Predictive Discovery.

In Guinea, Toro Gold will undertake an initial review of the three Greenfield exploration permits it acquired in late 2017 through direct application. Covering a total area of 267 km2, the permits lie within 30 km of the Siguiri gold mine.

Ultimately…

To grow the business, management remains active in the search to add additional projects to the exploration portfolio and are seeking projects from grass roots through to more advanced stages across West Africa.

“The biggest value creation in my opinion is to actually go out there and make our own discoveries, as this provides the best return on investment,” Horgan concludes.

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