Abidjan, Ivory Coast — MININGREVIEW.COM — 29 October 2008 – Lihir Equigold Limited – which describes itself as a leading global gold company with operations in Papua New Guinea, Australia and West Africa – has poured its first gold in Ivory Coast, launching production that will begin at 120 000 ounces a year, but is expected to expand to 200 000 ounces as new deposits are confirmed.
“The Bonikro mine – Ivory Coast’s newest and biggest gold mine – has estimated reserves of 1 million ounces, but new finds at nearby mines could double output and extend the life of the operation to 12 years,” managing director Hichem Tabka told Reuters.
He went on to reveal that the ore at the mine – which is 250 km north-west of the commercial Capital, Abidjan – was ‘relatively clean’ with an anticipated recovery rate of 94%.
“The firm has 11 exploration licences covering 8 000 squ km, and has applied for another eight licences, covering 14 000 squ km,” said Tabka.
“What is anticipated at the moment is that we could double the existing reserves of 1 million ounces. We will initiate an expansion programme very soon to increase production to up to 200 000 ounces per year,” he revealed.
“There is big potential across the country, and our company is ready to multiply by three its exploration budget for 2009 to over US$20 million (R210 million),” Tabka said.
“So far we have invested US$85 million (close to R900 million) in the Bonikro project, and the financial crisis should not affect operations, as they have been financed by a shareholder loan, and the feasibility study used US$600 per ounce as a basic price.