West Africa has emerged as a thriving hub for mining exploration and production, drawing the attention of renowned global mining service providers and operators. The MSGBC region, in particular, has gained prominence with its favorable laws and recent reforms, which have facilitated the discovery of significant mineral deposits.
As such, a number of large-scale projects are underway, promising new opportunities for economic growth and diversification.
Tiris Uranium Project
The Tiris Uranium Project is an open-pit mine in Mauritania, owned and developed by Aura Energy. Initial reserve estimates were measured at 10.9 million tons, however, following the completion of an enhanced definitive feasibility study – which confirmed robust financial returns and near-term production potential – a 150% increase in annual average steady-state production from 800,000 pounds of uranium to 2 million pounds was revealed, allowing Aura Energy to deliver life of mine production of 25.5 million pounds of uranium. Aura Energy expects to make a Final Investment Decision as early as Q4 2023, with commercial production scheduled to begin in early 2025.
Tasiast Gold Mine
The Tasiast Gold Mine in Mauritania is an open-pit project owned and operated by Kinross Gold. Mine reserves are estimated at 179.5 tons, with production having begun in 2010. In 2020, production was estimated at 406,500 ounces, however in 2022, levels increased to approximately 538,591. Gold is one of the two main mining export products in Mauritania, along with iron.
Sabodala-Massawa is an open pit mine owned and developed by Endeavour in Senegal. Reserves are estimated at 62.8 tons. It is the largest producing gold mine in Senegal and has been in operation for over a decade. A feasibility study is currently underway for the mine’s Phase 2 expansion plan, which is expected to increase production to over 400,000 ounces per year.
The Mako Gold Mine, located in Eastern Senegal, is an open pit mine owned and operated by Resolute’s Senegalese subsidiary, Petowal Mining Company S.A. Resolute has a 90% interest in Petowal and the Government of Senegal holds the remaining 10%. The Mako Gold Mine poured first gold in January 2018 and boasts reserves of 19.3 tons.
The Diamba Sud Project is an underground mine owned and developed by Chesser Resources and situated within the Senegal Mali Shear Zone, just over the border from Barrick’s Loulo and Gounkoto mines in Mali. Chesser Resources acquired the project in 2017, and significant high-grade gold discoveries have been made through drilling. The project’s total mineral resources are estimated to be 14.7 tons.
Lefa is an open pit gold mine with estimated reserves of 243 tons. The mine is owned by Société Minière de Dinguiraye S.A. (SMD) – one of the largest gold producers in Guinea – and is located 700 km northeast of Conakry. Nordgold holds an 85% controlling interest in SMD, with the remaining 15% held by the Guinean government. In 2023, Nordgold plans to commence an underground gold mine development at the Lefa mine.
The Kouroussa open pit gold mine is a project situated in the prolific Siguiri Basin in Guinea, and currently operated by HummingBird Resources, with estimated reserves of 129 tons. Kouroussa is currently under construction advancing rapidly towards first gold pour by the end of Q2 2023. Hummingbird’s specialist commissioning personnel and engineering contractor Soutex are working together during the commissioning phase.
Lelouma and Gaoual
Lindian Resources has two open pit bauxite mining projects in Guinea: The Lelouma Project and the Gaoual Bauxite Project. The estimated mineral resource of bauxite in the Lelouma Project is 900 million tons, whereas the Gaoual Project’s is estimated at 102 million tons. Both projects are located in close proximity to existing rail infrastructure that can transport the bauxite to the port in Kamsar for export. Together, the two projects offer an opportunity to fast-track development, moderate capital investment and deliver high grade ore into the global bauxite market.
The Simandou iron ore deposit is located in southeastern Guinea and is estimated to hold around two billion tons of high-quality iron ore reserves that are recoverable. It is widely considered to be the largest untapped deposit of high-grade iron ore in the world. The deposit is divided into two northern blocks, which are 90% owned by SMB-Winning Consortium and 10% by the Government of Guinea, and Simandou South, which is owned by a joint venture, Simfer. The first phase of the project is expected to produce 60 million tons of iron ore annually by 2026.
Energy Capital & Power is set to host the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2023 conference and exhibition on November 21-22 in Nouakchott, highlighting the potential investment and partnership prospects in the mineral sector. Don’t miss out, register now.