Toro Gold
Mining activities commenced – August 2017
Privately-owned Toro Gold was awarded a 15 year mining concession for its 90% owned Petowal Mining Company by Senegal in July 2016, construction began in August.

The Toro Gold development schedule is 18 months long with forecast capital costs of US$158 million to steady state
production.

Using competitive tendering, Toro Gold’s experienced owners’ team assembled a group of internationally recognised contractors to complete the development of the Mako goldmine.

[quote]With a focus on health and safety of all staff at the project site, construction progress to date has been excellent with the project currently on both schedule and budget to deliver first gold during Q1, 2018.

In addition good progress has been made in the early identification of key members of operational staff and a number of appointments have been made to support the transition to operations in due course.

“We are delighted to be able to provide this update on activities at our Mako project in Eastern Senegal,” states Toro Gold CEO, Martin Horgan.

“Since receiving the mining permit in July 2016 Toro Gold has made significant progress in both the construction and operational readiness activities at site. The working partnership between Toro Gold’s owners team and our group of experienced contractors has enabled us to maintain both schedule and budget.

“With over 1 100 people currently working at site, emphasis has remained on the preferential use of local and national staff in addition to the provision of training opportunities – I am delighted to report that approximately 90% of staff at the project are Senegalese nationals.

“We now look forward to the critical phase of construction completion and the handover to operational staff via the commissioning period – with the operational team substantially recruited at this time Toro Gold is well prepared for this phase. Toro Gold is fully funded to completion of the Mako project and we look forward to updating you in due course on the continued progress across the group,” explains Horgan.

Project construction facilities

Based on the 2015 definitive feasibility study and the subsequent 2016 optimisation study, the project envisages the development of a 1 million oz JORC complaint reserve over an initial eight year life.

Mining from a single open pit and using an industry standard carbon in leach (CIL) processing facility to extract the gold, the principal facilities being developed during construction are summarised as follows:

  • 1.8 Mtpa CIL plant inclusive of crushing and grinding circuit, gold extraction circuit, gold room for doré production and cyanide detox circuit
  • Lined tailings management facility (TMF)
  • Raw water storage dam with river abstraction point
  • Office and warehouse facilities
  • 130 person accommodation camp
  • 14MW IPP Diesel fired power station
  • Fuel farm
  • Mining services area (MSA) and associated explosive storage facility
  • Pre-development mining operations; and
  • Over 14 km of access roads across the project site

Construction contractor group

In selecting the contractors to complete both construction and operational aspects of the project, Toro Gold has sought to engage internationally reputable groups with successful track records in the development and operations of gold projects in Africa.

Using a competitive tendering approach, the following groups have been retained:

  • Lycopodium Minerals
  • Eiffage Senega
  • SFTP SA
  • TTI
  • DLM Senegal
  • Knight Pièsold Consulting
  • SGS Minerals
  • Vivo Energy
  • AMS Senegal S.U.A.R.L. (AMSS)
  • Power Solutions Africa
  • ATS S.A.R.L.

While most of these groups have direct experience of construction and operations in Senegal, AMSS is a newly formed entity and establishes them as Senegal’s first fully integrated, international contract mining services company.

The partnership between PMC and AMSS on the Mako project is not only beneficial to Toro Gold given their demonstrable track record of success across Africa, but also to the wider Senegalese mining sector as it continues to develop.

Construction progress

Construction progress since the full commencement of works in August 2016 has been excellent, and the project remains on both time and budget for a first gold pour in Q1, 2018.

The following section gives an overview of progress at the key construction areas:

Processing plant facility

  • All key earthworks and civils / concrete for the plant site were completed on schedule in early 2017 which permitted the start of installation works before the on-set of the wet season in Senegal in June / July
  • At this time all six CIL tanks, top of tank steel and pipe racks had been erected allowing commencement of piping and mechanical installation works to commence in July
  • The mill concrete foundation was poured early giving access to the mill installation activities
  • SAG mill components were delivered to site and installation of the shell is well advanced at this time
  • The primary crusher facility is on schedule for commissioning in early October with civils and ROM pad backfilling/development complete and only minor mechanical and electrical installations to be completed
  • Material handling areas including conveyors, transfer bin and stockpiling are well advanced and on schedule for early October commissioning
  • Civil, structural and mechanical installation in the feed thickener, CIL and cyanide detox circuits as well as the and tailing discharge / TMF are largely complete with piping and electrical installation progressing rapidly
  • Various services including water, fire, air and reagents are also well advanced with piping and electrical installation being the main tasks to complete
  • Reagent Storage sheds are complete and the warehouse and stores laydown are near completion ready for reagents and spares that are starting to arrive on site
  • Construction of all plant buildings is complete

Tailings management facility and water storage dam

  • All earthworks for the TMF were completed in May with installation of the plastic liner completed in June
  • After independent inspection and sign off by Knight Piesold, the facility was further inspected and approved for operations by the Department of Environment in August 2017
  • The raw water dam (RAW) was completed in June with the associated river abstraction point commissioned shortly thereafter in early July
  • The facility was also inspected by the Department of Environment in August 2017 with approval to operate granted shortly thereafter; and,
  • The rainy season commenced in July and the Gambia River flow rates have increased substantially from their annual lows at the end of May. Abstraction of water commenced in August and at this time the RWD is approximately 40% full and on schedule to support commissioning and the full operations schedule through the coming dry season later in 2017.

Ancillary infrastructure

  • All project access infrastructure and laydown areas were completed in early 2017 enabling full access to the site for all construction and operational activities. During the current wet season work is focused on the maintenance of the access infrastructure
  • Fuel depot construction is well advanced with hydrostatic testing of the erected tanks to be completed during this month and commissioning of the facility expected in October
  • The mine site laboratory is currently being installed by SGS with an expected target commissioning date in mid- October
  • Preparation of the installation of the 14 MW power station continues to make good progress with component deliveries and site construction advancing slightly ahead of schedule. Installation is due to take place in September and power generation is slated to start in October 2017 ahead of the commissioning process later in 2017
  • At the camp site the kitchen, dining hall, wet mess and laundry facilities have been operational since July / August and recreational areas are close to be being completed; and
  • Completion and handover of the remaining senior management accommodation rooms is expected during September, enabling full manning of the new and exploration camp to follow with a capacity of 210 beds for the construction phase which will reduce to 130 with the closure of the exploration camp during operations.

Mining activities

  • After a competitive tender process in 2016, African Mining Services Senegal, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ausdrill, were awarded the contract for mining operations at the project
  • The Mine Services Contract (MSC) includes drill and blast, load and haul of ore and waste as well as ancillary support services including dewatering, dust suppression and road maintenance within the pit area
  • AMSS commenced mobilisation to site during Q2, 2016 and currently have all equipment required to commence pre-production activities at Mako
  • Pre-strip activities have commenced and substantial progress was made developing the haul roads and ROM pad. Access has been established from the ROM pad to the stage 1, 2 and 3 mining pits in readiness for the operating fleet to commence full mining in September. Plans indicate that adequate ore tonnage will be available on the ROM pad to support the commissioning of the process facility, gold pour and operations as per the schedule
  • The explosives magazine and temporary emulsion plant areas are now complete and ready to support mining operations through the pre-development phase of work with the first trial blast being completed recently

Operational readiness and commissioning planning

In order to ensure an integrated approach to operational readiness with the completion of construction activities, Toro Gold moved early to retain the services of a highly experienced GM for the operational phase.

In early 2017 Toro Gold were delighted to retain the services of Adrian De Freitas in the role of GM for PMC.

De Freitas is a mining engineer with over 35 years of experience in the industry.

Prior to joining Toro Gold, he was GM of the Youga open pit and CIL gold mine in Burkina Faso, Endeavour Mining’s first operating mine, and was a member of the operational management team that supported the growth of the company from a single asset to a multiple operating mine business producing 500 000 oz per year within a six year period.

Prior to joining Endeavour Mining, De Freitas held senior operational, technical and business development positions
with Katanga Mining at its Kolwezi operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and at several of AngloGold Ashanti’s operations in sub-Saharan Africa.

De Freitas is a chartered engineer with a degree in mining engineering from the Imperial College of Science and Technology and cut his teeth in the industry on the Zambian Copper-belt.

Since his appointment in early 2017, De Freitas has been working with the construction team to ensure a smooth transition from operational readiness to end of construction / commissioning phases.

In addition, he continues to assemble the operational team through the identification and retention of a number of key managers.

Feature image credit: Toro Gold