Firefinch Ltd (ASX:FFX), formerly named Mali Lithium (ASX:MLL), has moved quickly to implement plans to transform the newly acquired Morila Gold Mine in Mali, Africa into a major near-term gold producing project.
The acquisition of 80% has transitioned the company to gold producer with the previous metal being won from tailings but Firefinch has bigger plans and has hit the ground running with exploration, including drilling, at and around the mine.
More than a decade after the last major drilling efforts were undertaken at the project, the company has initiated a program of 45 holes for 675 metres of shallow aircore drilling.
This program, which began just a day after the transaction was completed, is designed to test for potential extensions to the tailings mineral resource of 4.8 million tonnes at 0.50 g/t gold for 76,000 ounces.
On completion, the drill rig will test two high-priority gold in soil targets close to the Morila plant and pit.
Firefinch plans to generate US$17 million in cashflow to May 2021 through its tailings processing.
Firefinch considers Morila to be a ‘golden opportunity’ with past production having reached 7.4 million ounces and plenty more still to be mined.
Although AngloGold Ashanti Ltd (NYSE:AU) and Barrick Gold Corp (NYSE:GOLD) only concluded the sale of their interest in Morila on November 11, the company is focused on extending mine life by accessing satellite resources and adapting the mine’s infrastructure.
The change in name to Firefinch represents the national bird of Mali and completes the company’s adoption of a new brand and identity along with its new focus on gold while still advancing the Goulamina Lithium Project to production.
Since Morila went into production in October 2000, the mine produced 6.9 million ounces of gold and paid more than $2.5 billion to stakeholders in the form of dividends and taxes.
Morila, which was operated by Barrick Gold, transitioned to a stockpile treatment operation in 2009 and began processing tailings in 2013.
On-track to production
With a A$74 million capital raising under its belt, allowing the company to purchase the 80% stake in Morila, Firefinch remains on track to ramp-up production.
Key activities include:
- Resource and reserve estimates for Morila, satellites and tailings;
- New mine plan, operating and capital costs as well as a production schedule;
- Begin mining at N’Tolia and Viper to increase production; and
- Dewater Morila, establish tailings dam, and refurbish the power station.
Once these tasks have been completed, Firefinch is targeting 4.5 million tonnes per annum production from the Morila Pit and a near mine and regional exploration plan totalling a 10-plus year mine life.
Reverse circulation (RC) drill rigs are expected to arrive on-site late this month and will infill and test for extensions to the N’Tiola, Viper and Koting deposits.
The company will also drill pre-collars around the Morila pit.
A diamond drill rig is expected to infill and test for extensions to the main Morila deposit.
Capital Drilling is Firefinch’s preferred drilling contractor.
“Wasting no time”
Firefinch’s executive chairman Alistair Cowden said this week: “Yesterday we announced that we own Morila and today we start drilling the gold project.
“We have a strong team in place and are wasting no time in executing our plans to add to the mining inventory then ramp-up gold production.
“We look forward to updating shareholders with the results of drilling as soon as they are available.”