by Ina King (Potgieter) October 25, 2019
Burkina Faso’s minerals industry continues to bloom, with the recent commissioning of the 1.61 Moz Wahgnion Gold Mine the latest operational project among the country’s rapidly developing mining sector that produced an estimated 55 tons of gold in 2018.
A little over a decade ago, Burkina Faso didn’t have a single modern commercial-scale gold mine. Today it has 11 operational gold mines and a zinc mine, which contribute over 60% of the country’s exports, and have catapulted the West African nation to among the continent’s top four gold producers.
Equally as extraordinary, an additional 67 ongoing projects are in various phases of grassroots, pre-feasibility and feasibility stages – telling a story of a mining industry with huge growth potential, equally exciting for the country’s inhabitants as well as investors.
With gold found in every region, there is an abundance of opportunities in Burkina Faso, and both established international mining houses and local junior miners are reaping excellent returns on their investments.
While the country’s mining is dominated by gold, smaller deposits of zinc and manganese also offer potential prospects, with the Perkoa Zinc Mine producing 130 tons of relatively clean concentrate each year.
Essakane Mine, in the north east of the country, is premier property, located within a 100.2 km² Mining Permit that is surrounded by seven Exploration Permits covering an area of 1 093 km². The largest known gold resource in the country, it has an Indicated Resource of 49 Mt grading 1.5 g/t and an Inferred Resource of 5.7 Mt grading 1.7 g/t. The estimated Life of Mine has been extended to 2026, with the objective to be extended to 2030 through future drilling and mining plans.
Mining is carried out using conventional drill, blast, shovel, load and haul surface mining. Ore is processed using two-stage crushing, SAG and ball mill grinding, pebble crusher grinding, gravity concentration and a CIL plant.
Mana Gold Mine
This project consists of two main deposits: Wona and Nyafe. It is situated in the sedimentary volcanic band Birimian of Hounde, in the Baoule-Mossi region of the West Africa Craton. Since its first gold pour in 2008, it has produced some 1.6 Moz, and having been expanded over four times since commissioning, produces over 7 200 tonnes per day.
Taparko-Bouroum Gold Mine
Production began at Taparko Mine, approximately 200 km northeast of Ouagadougou, in 2007. The Bouroum Mine site, a satellite of Taparko, is situated approximately 49 km northwest of the main Taparko site where all the mining and milling facilities are located. The Life of Mine is currently being expanded.
The mine comprises four open-pits that use conventional surface mining methods involving drilling and blasting, followed by a load and haul process allowing for selective mining of the ore. Ore from the pit is then transported to a designated stockpile and fed into a crushing circuit. The crushed material is then delivered to a grinding circuit consisting of SAG and Ball Mills. The milled product is thickened and leached into a CIP Circuit. The Taparko-Bouroum Mine should process 1 million tonnes of ore per annum with gold production averaging 90 000 ounces over 8 years.
Bissa Gold Mine
85 km north of Ouagadougou, the Bissa project covers 1 000 km² and includes the following permits around Bissa: Bouly, Liliga, Gougre and Rofo Lessa. It has a Measured Resource of 81 980 oz, an Indicated Resource of 580 270 oz and an Inferred Resource of 679 470 oz gold. This includes Bissa Hill. The Gourge Main Zone represents a potentially important new zone of gold mineralisation which has the potential to add to resources. The Bissa Mine includes the Ronguen Gold Deposit located approximately 15 km North-Northwest of the mine.
Ore from the mine is brought to the Run of Mine pad, stockpiled and fed to the crusher to begin the first stage of processing. The processing method used at Bissa is conventional single stage crushing, SAG and ball milling, and gold is recovered in a CIL circuit.
Youga Gold Mine
The Avesoro Resources-operated Youga Gold Mine is situated about 180 km southeast of Ouagadougou. Youga’s mineral reserves are estimated at 14.74 Mt containing 814 900 oz of gold grading at 1.72 g/t, mined through conventional open-pit methods of drilling and blasting. Youga mine also has processing operations, with the plant also receiving mined ores from the nearby Netiana and Ouaré deposits.
With many more projects expected to come online over the next few years, the importance of Burkina Faso to the world’s gold economy is likely to become entrenched as the gold rush in the country continues.
Technology and equipment suppliers to the gold mining industry should be targeting this region.
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