African Gold Group Announces Robust Definitive Feasibility Study for its 100,000 Ounce Per Year Kobada Gold Project With Renewable Energy Source
TORONTO, June 17, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — African Gold Group, Inc. (TSX-V: AGG) (“AGG” or the “Company”) is pleased to provide a National Instrument 43-101: Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) compliant updated mineral resource and reserve estimate and results of the definitive feasibility study (“DFS”) for the Company`s Kobada Gold Project (the “Kobada Gold Project”) located in southern Mali.
Highlights include:Average annual production of 100,000 ounces of gold per annum for the first 5 years of operation.Total gold production of 728,654 ounces over 9.4 years life of mine, based on current reserves.Average total operating cash costs US$704/oz for the Life of Mine (“LOM”).LOM All-In Sustaining Cost (“AISC”) of US$782/oz.Pre-tax NPV5% of US$283.9 million with an IRR of 45.5% and a post-tax NPV5% of $226 million with an IRR of 41.1% at US$1,530/oz gold. Kobada Gold Project capital expenditure of US$125 million (plus a contingency of US$11 million).Total project capital expenditure payback of 3.82 years from start of production, based on a US$1,530 per ounce gold price.Total project net cash flows after tax and capital expenditure of US$327 million.A separate standalone 11 MW Hybrid Solar/Thermal Power Plant to supply power to the Kobada Gold Project will be funded by an independent power producer with power purchased at a very competitive kWh rate and significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions.Total proven and probable mineral reserve has increased to 754,800 ounces of gold, a 48% increase from the mineral reserve estimate in the 2016 feasibility study of the Company with respect to the Kobada Gold Project (the “2016 Feasibility Study”).Pit constrained mineral resource estimate in the inferred category increased to 1,138,810 ounces of gold with an average grade of 1.33 g/t Au, representing an 11.2% increase in resource and 37% increase in average grade.High measured and indicated resource to reserve conversion rate of 84%.Updated 2020 mineral reserve estimate represents, an increase of 48% in ounces and 114% in tonnes compared with the 2016 Feasibility Study.Further potential remains to significantly increase the resource and reserve along strike and depth at the Kobada Gold Project.“We are very excited to deliver this DFS update, which shows a marked improvement over the 2016 Feasibility Study. We are pleased to announce significantly improved project economics on the back of a large jump in mineral reserves, based on a solid foundation of additional drilling, an updated resource model and a comprehensive test work program,” comments Danny Callow, Chief Executive Officer of AGG. “We have worked tirelessly, despite the impact of COVID-19 to deliver this study on time and 20% below budget. Our flagship Kobada Gold Project has been increased to a 100,000 oz per annum operation. Based on the limited exploration drilling on only 4 km of the 30 km of identified structural shear zones on the property, we believe there is significant potential to improve the resources and reserves further with limited additional exploration. We have an advanced process plant design, we are fully permitted, and we are ready for the next phase of construction.”
The study has been prepared with input from a number of independent consultants:Kobada Gold Project OverviewThe Kobada Gold Project is located in southern Mali, approximately 125 km in a straight-line south-southwest of the capital city Bamako, and is situated adjacent to the Niger River and the international border with Guinea.The Kobada Gold Project is based on one mining exploitation permit of 136 km2 and one exploration permit of 80 km2 which are wholly owned by AGG Mali SARL, the local Malian Company, 100% owned subsidiary of African Gold Group. AGG completed 116,870 metres of diamond, reverse circulation, air core and auger drilling between 2005 and 2012. In 2015, AGG completed a further 1,398 metres of diamond core drilling over 136 diamond drill holes. The current AGG exploration re-commenced in August 2019 and an additional 11,428 metres of diamond core have been drilled.Gold mineralization is present in the laterite, saprolite, and quartz veins that comprise the project, and in the sulphidic hard rock underneath. There are also placer style deposits in the region.Mine PlanningDRA/Met-Chem (a company of DRA Americas) undertook the mine planning process, based on the measured and indicated mineral resources delineated to date at the Kobada Gold Project.Pit optimizations were undertaken using the following parameters:The Kobada Gold Project deposit is planned to be mined with a standard open-pit mining method using articulated trucks and a hydraulic loader (hydraulic shovel or excavator). Approximately 90% of the raw material to be mined is contained in the saprolite and laterite ores, and the vast majority will be free digging.The final pit design for the Kobada Gold Project deposit has a main pit (Central Pit) of approximately 2.6 km long, with a maximum width of 500 m and a maximum depth of 185 m. North and South of the central area are some smaller satellite pits, as shown in
Figure 1.Figure 1: Kobada Final Pit Design is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/5c3d38bd-98af-4e31-9969-6443408e9b0eThe open pit mining operation will last approximately five and half years, during which the lower-grade material will be stockpiled on a pad close to the primary crusher location.The mine plan targets higher grade ore zone at the early phase of the project to feed into the process plant in order to produce 100,000 oz per annum for the first 5 years, and thereafter lower production output as the grade drops and stockpiles are treated.Over the life of the project, 27.13 Mt of ore will be mined and delivered to the processing facility, and a total of 72.35 Mt of material will be mined and placed on the waste dumps, representing a life of mine stripping ratio of 2.67:1.The mining operations will be undertaken by a specialized contractor selected by AGG. This contractor will be responsible for the management and maintenance of its own mining fleet and operators, while AGG will oversee the mine planning and geological grade control aspects of the operation.Mineral ReserveThis updated mineral reserve and resource estimate at Kobada Gold Project, as summarized in Table 1 and Table 2, was prepared in accordance with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum “CIM” (2014) Definition Standards incorporated by reference in NI 43-101, and is the result of 11,428 meters (67 drill holes) of drilling completed by the Company between H2 2019 and H1 2020 in addition to the historical drilling completed in previous years.Table 1: Kobada`s Mineral Reserve EstimateMineral ResourceTable 2: Kobada`s Mineral Resource Estimate“We are very happy to present a much-improved resource and reserve statement,” says Dr. Andreas Rompel, Vice President Exploration of the Company. “Whilst most of the drilling was focused on infill drilling and improving the confidence level and the quality of the resource model, some holes drilled to the north of the 4 km main shear zone showed huge promise for future exploration. After two drilling phases we were in a fantastic position to upgrade large parts of the inferred resource in the oxides to the indicated category and subsequently convert these into additional reserves. This gives us confidence for future exploration to significantly extend the life of the mine at the Kobada Gold Project. These new figures submitted here represent a substantial improvement to the previous feasibility study from 2016 and will allow us to finalise the pending feasibility study shortly.”2019 – 2020 Drilling ProgramThe diamond drilling program at the Kobada Gold Project commenced in November 2019 and, the Company has drilled over 11,428 meters (67 drill holes). The 2019-2020 drilling program has been separated into two phases. Phase 1 was designed to confirm and upgrade the confidence level in the 2016 Feasibility Study. A total of 5,600 meters was drilled in 34 holes as presented in Figure 2. The core drilling was designed to infill specific areas across the main shear zone and validate the 2016 Feasibility Study.Phase 1 drilling program did indeed confirm the expected resources and additional ounces of gold were identified along the 4 km strike length of the main shear zone. Gold mineralization was confirmed, with more oxide resources upgraded from the inferred to the indicated and measured categories.A variety of alternation zones were tested throughout the Phase 1 program to delineate the thickness and mineralization of the laterite, saprolite, transition and sulphide zones of the ore body.Phase 2 aimed at finding additional resources along the northern extension of the shear zone at the Kobada Gold Project. The Company was successful in testing the depth extension of the oxides, the transition zone and the sulphide zone, found additional resources in an area which was so far untested and proved gold mineralisation being continuous down-dip along the shear zone into the sulphides.Figure 2: Phase 1 drill hole locations is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/d2594a19-ba10-404c-85f2-edc5094bdd44Exploration Upside and 2020 GuidanceWith only a limited amount of additional drilling, the Company expects to convert further ounces from the inferred oxide resource category to the indicated category. With a resource to reserve conversion of 84%, and a total of 574,850 oz of oxide resource in the inferred category, it is expected that the overall reserve could increase significantly. The plan is to undertake this drilling during the second half of 2020.The drill results of Phase 1 and 2 indicate that the deposit remains open at depth and along strike, with a significant extension being delineated to the north of the main mineralised shear zone.While only 4 km of the main shear zone at the Kobada project were considered for the DFS, a further 26 km of shear zones have been identified on the concessions with high-grade satellite deposits at the Gosso target and Faraba. These targets represent an attractive potential for the future sources of production.The Company is confident that with limited drilling and a high resource to reserve conversion rate, the inferred oxide resources can be converted into additional reserves. This will be a priority during 2020 and will result in mine life being extended. Additional exploration on the highly prospective northern main shear zone and the Gosso target is expected to further increase the probability of additional resources, and this will be a target during 2020-2021.The mineral resource and mineral reserves statements in this press release will be published in the DFS, which will be filed within 45 days in accordance with NI 43-101 requirements.ProcessingIn the 2016 Feasibility Study, test work was conducted to support a process flowsheet based on recovering gold through gravity means only, and other recovery options were not assessed.As part of the DFS study, a detailed metallurgical testwork programme on representative composite samples across the mineralized zones was carried out in two phases. Phase 1 of the metallurgical testwork involved investigating the optimum treatment route by assessing all possible gold recovery methods. Phase 2 involved optimizing the processing flowsheet to obtain the parameters to enable design of the gold processing facility for optimum gold recovery. Variability testwork was conducted to establish the degree of variability within the ore zones with respect to their metallurgical response using the optimum conditions determined in Phase 2.The test work was completed by Maelgywn Mineral Services (“MMS”) in South Africa, who was retained by SENET, the Company’s project manager for the DFS. Results from the metallurgical testwork were used for the flowsheet development and design of the gold processing plant for the Kobada Gold Project. Outcomes from the testwork indicated that:The ore is easy to treat with expected recoveries in the order of 96% for both saprolite and laterite ore types.The ore is extremely soft (low hardness and abrasion), which will result in low power requirement and low wear on liners and mill media.Low deleterious elements resulting in low reagent use, and lower operating cost.Low oxygen demand which will not require oxygen sparging in the leach tanks.Low reagent consumption.The proposed process plant design is based on a proven and established gravity/carbon-in-leach (“CIL”) technology, which consists of crushing, milling, and gravity recovery of free gold, followed by leaching/adsorption of gravity tailings, elution and gold smelting, and tailings disposal. Services to the process plant will include reagent mixing, storage and distribution, water, and air services.The plant will treat 3 Mtpa of saprolite ore or a blend of saprolite and laterite ore in a 90/10 split, respectively, to produce 100,000 oz of gold per annum. The process plant was designed on the following principles:Simplified, compact process plant, minimising the requirement of expensive and long lead front-end process equipment.Easy to upgrade in the future.Simple to operate and cost effective, in terms of capital and operating costs.The flexibility to exceed 100,000 oz per year of output based upon input feed grade and tonnage.Highly flexible process able to treat varying ore grades and ore types with no significant increase in reagent consumption.PowerDue to the relatively poor electricity infrastructure in the region, tying into the national power grid is not a feasible solution. SENET undertook studies to investigate the potential for a standalone 11MW Power plant for the DFS.An in-depth study found that the development of a hybrid solar PV, battery energy storage system (“BESS”) and thermal power plant funded by an Independent Power Producer (the “IPP”) to be the best option. This will reduce the CAPEX required, lowering the initial investment as the equipment is owned by the IPP and in addition lowers the operational risk with a very competitive power purchase rate.The inclusion of the hybrid solar PV along with the thermal power plant will not only save on energy cost but will also significantly reduce the mine’s environmental footprint in the region. The BESS will provide additional redundancy to the thermal plant and the system will be fully integrated with the mining operations to ensure de-risked mining revenue generation.This option will not only compliment AGG’s environmental strategy, but also presents an opportunity to reduce costs over the life of the Kobada Gold Project with improved reliability, cost-effectiveness, and redundancy to the total power requirements.Highlights of the hybrid power system include;Significant annual power savings over a conventional thermal power system of more than 22% and an annual saving of over $5 million on cost of power,Reduction of;over 5 million litres of HFO,over 14 million kg of carbon dioxide emissions,over 8,000 kg of carbon monoxide emissions,over 720 kg of unburned hydrocarbons,over 34,000 kg of sulfur dioxide,nearly 62,000 kg of nitrogen oxides.WaterRaw water supply shall be achieved by a combination of raw water abstraction from the Niger River, and supplementary water supply from the eight open pit outer perimeter dewatering boreholes.The water from these supplies shall be stored in a newly constructed 20,000 m3 raw water buffer dam located mid-way between the process plant and the Niger River. The process plant shall feature additional water storage facilities in terms of a 3,500 m3 raw water pond, a 10,600 m3 process water pond and a 4,500 m3 stormwater pond, respectively. Process water will be supplied by pumping supernatant water back from the TSF (as defined below).Tailings ManagementEpoch Resources (Pty) Ltd undertook the study design associated with the Tailings Storage Facility (“TSF”). The TSF is a HDPE lined, full containment valley type arrangement, with a life of mine (“LOM”) tailings storage requirement of 25.9 Mt at a deposition rate of 3 million dry tonnes/annum. The TSF infrastructure includes a slurry distribution pipeline, catchment paddocks, toe drain system, underdrainage system, curtain drain system, blanket drain system, solution collection pipeline, collection sumps and manholes, seepage cut-off trench, storm water diversion trenches, emergency spillway, access roads and perimeter fence-line. A floating barge decants supernatant tailings slurry water and storm water from the TSF back to the plant.The TSF is to be constructed in phases over the LOM, utilizing open pit overburden material, in three downstream lifts following the construction of the initial starter embankment. The construction of Phase 1 has been split into Phase 1A in the first year of construction and Phase 1B in the second year of construction.The full containment TSF design was adopted to take cognisance of the imminent Global Tailings Standards and International Commission on Large Dams Tailings Dams Safety, both currently in draft status, which refer to robust TSF designs and potentially liquefiable tailings.Accessibility and Transport/LogisticsSENET and Bolloré Logistics have undertaken surveys with detailed analysis of access routes to the Kobada project site for plant and equipment as well as ongoing production materials and consumables.Based on the international routes and climate conditions, as well as size of cargo to be transported, either of the two major routes (i.e. from Abidjan or Dakar) will be used for the project to gain access to Bamako and the Kobada site. These routes are via:International ports to Abidjan (Côte D’Ivoire) by sea, and Abidjan to site by road freight (for containers).International ports to Dakar (Senegal) by sea, and Dakar to site by road freight (for abnormal loads/break bulk).Alternatively, international airports to Bamako Airport (Mali) via commercial airlines (for airfreight).From Bamako, transportation of materials and consumables to the site will be via the existing roads that link Bamako to Kobada village and the AGG camp comprising two distinct access routes.The preferred access route to the Kobada site is accessible in approximately 3 – 4 hour’s drive in a south-west direction from Bamako. After crossing the Niger by barge there is approximately 8 km of untarred roads.An alternate access route from Bamako to the Kobada mine site is via the RN7 (Bamako–Sikasso) for 80 km to the Sélingué road junction, thereafter an additional 60 km of paved road to Sélingué. Thereafter there is 52 km of laterite road to site. The construction of a new low-level bridge across the Fié River was addressed in the study and included in the capital expenditure.RefiningThere is no gold refining capability in Mali and thus doré produced at Kobada is to be refined outside the country, either in South Africa, Europe, or Dubai. Initial discussions have been held with refineries and although no agreements have been entered into, it is anticipated that the doré will be treated at the Rand Refinery in South Africa.Environmental and Social AspectsAfrica and Business Consulting Mali (“ABCOM”), together with ABS Africa (Pty) Ltd and Insuco Limited, have been appointed to undertake an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (“ESIA”) for the Kobada Gold Mine Project. The present phase of the environmental assessment work comprises detailed characterization of the environmental baseline, quantification of impacts and development of management, monitoring and closure and rehabilitation plans. Baseline studies were undertaken during October and November 2019 with a follow-up wet season biodiversity survey scheduled for Q3 2020. A socio-economic baseline assessment has been completed for the project, but due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions the community consultation and impact assessment is currently on hold and will be completed as soon as the lockdown is lifted. However, initial consultations before the lockdown indicated positive support for the project.Key Impacts
Key environmental and social impacts identified to date as part the ESIA process, are summarized as follows:Employment opportunities during the construction and operational phase. This will translate into an improved standard of living for those hired and their families.National, regional, and local businesses and contractors will benefit both directly and indirectly from Kobada Gold Project-related construction and operational activities due to the purchase of goods and services.Project development has the potential to provide increased availability and opportunity for a wide range of skills development and job training, particularly for women and local youth.During all the phases of the Kobada Gold Project, payment of dividends, tax on taxable income, royalties and surface rent will contribute to the fiscus.In order to achieve the appropriate environmental management standards and ensure that the findings of the environmental studies are implemented through practical measures, the recommendations from the ESIA have been used to compile an Environmental and Social Management Plan (“ESMP”). The role of the ESMP is to assist AGG in reducing potential impacts and risks and achieving its environmental objectives as well as fulfilling its commitment to the environment. The ESMP will be used to ensure compliance with environmental specifications, monitoring and management measures.AGG will develop a series of Environmental Action Plans, in order to manage anticipated impacts, as per the requirements of the IFC’s Sustainability Framework. Capital CostsThe tables below summarize the estimated capital costs for the Kobada Gold Project as estimated by the independent consultants. These costs were in almost all cases built up from quotations and proposals from equipment and service providers.The Feasibility Study costs currently utilize a contractor owned and operated mining fleet. The contractor mining option given the lower initial capital cost was found to be the preferred option for the project.The TSF will be developed in three distinct phases corresponding to “lifts” of the full containment dam wall. This has allowed for the costs to be allocated to the initial capital expenditure budget for the first phase and for sustaining capital for phases two and three.All financial analysis for the Life of Mine includes the total design, construction and commissioning, production, and closure.Table 3: Total Initial Project Capital CostsTable 4: Total Sustaining Project Capital CostsOperating Cash CostsThe following operating cash costs were estimated and incorporated into the financial analysis:Table 5: Total Operating Cash Costs LOMFinancial AnalysisThe Kobada Gold Project financial analysis was prepared using the discounted cash flow model. In preparing this model there have been several assumptions and material factors that have been employed which are presented in Table 6.Table 6: Financial Model AssumptionsThe findings of the model are summarized in Table 7.Table 7: Summary of Financial FindingsThe following tables detail the NPV and IRR sensitivities of the project to gold price, CAPEX, OPEX, recovery and feed grade. Before these the Sensitivity analysis percentages are shown.Figure 3: Sensitivity on NPV is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/712ceffd-1ae3-4b28-bf21-4c308d7baf57Table 8: Key project metric sensitivity to gold price
Table 9: Gold price and discount rate sensitivity analysisTable 10: Gold price and head grade sensitivity analysisTable 11: Gold price and operating costs sensitivity analysisTable 12: Gold price and capital costs sensitivity analysis55Table 13: Gold price and percentage recovery sensitivity analysisProject OpportunitiesThe DFS has been completed based upon drilling of only 4 km of the main shear zone. Several other geologically similar shear zone structures have been identified on the concession and these are yet to be drilled. There exists a significant opportunity to increase the size of the measured and indicated resource through targeted limited infill drilling in the inferred resources which would be an opportunity to increase mine life.The Company, with the assistance of SENET has advanced the engineering of the project past the level that is required for a DFS. A large part of the process plant is designed to a detailed engineering level, including earthworks and civil engineering drawings issued for construction. Ongoing schedule optimization may result in reducing the construction schedule and bringing first gold forward by a number of months.Development TimetableConstruction of the process plant and associated infrastructure including Phase 1 of the TSF for the Kobada Gold Project is expected to take 19 months. First gold will be achieved where after the process plant will be ramped up to produce nameplate capacity within the following 2 production months. The mine is designed with ease of construction and operation as a priority. The simplified and compact process plant flowsheet minimizes the requirement for expensive and long lead process equipment, thereby substantially reducing the construction time.“Utilising known technology to develop a robust plant flowsheet suitable for West African conditions, yet simple and flexible in design, has allowed us to fast-track the development of the engineering to a stage where much of the plant is now at detailed design level. This allows us to shorten the schedule significantly and save on engineering costs,” says Danny Callow, Chief Executive Officer of AGG.The Company also intends to outsource key specialised components of the plant from the best in class providers, including a state-of-the-art hybrid, solar PV, thermal and BESS, fuel storage and supply, and the mining and TSF contract.Qualified PersonThis DFS was prepared under the supervision of Nick Dempers, Principal Process Engineer at SENET and a “Qualified Person,” as such term is defined in National Instrument 43-101.The contents of this press release have been reviewed and approved by:Nicholas Dempers, MSc Eng (Chem), BSc Eng (Chem), BCom (Man), Pr.Eng (RSA), Reg.No 20150196, FSAIMM (RSA), Principal Process Engineer of SENET (Pty) Ltd with respect to processing and infrastructure,Uwe Engelmann, BSc (Zoo. & Bot.), BSc Hons (Geol.), Pr.Sci.Nat. No. 400058/08, MGSSA, a director of Minxcon (Pty) Ltd. with respect to mineral resources,Patrick Perez, MSc (Geology), P.Eng (Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientist of Saskatchewan, license #16131), a manager mining engineer of DRA Americas, a company of DRA Global with respect to mining and mineral reserves,Guy John Wild, BSc Eng., MSc Eng. and P. Eng (#940269), a Director and Senior Tailings Dam Engineer at Epoch Resources with respect to the tailings dam,Fanie Coetzee, B.Sc Hons (Environmental Management), Pr.Sci.Nat. No 40044/04, Director of ABS Africa with respect to the ESIA.Each of the aforementioned individuals are independent Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101.About African Gold GroupAfrican Gold Group is a Canadian listed gold company on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX-V: AGG) with expansive holdings in West Africa`s prolific Birimian Greenstone Belt including more than 460 km2 across Mali and Burkina Faso with a focus on the development of the Kobada Gold Project in southern Mali. For more information regarding African Gold Group visit our website at www.africangoldgroup.com.ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORSDanny Callow
President and Chief Executive OfficerFor more information please contact:Danny Callow
President and Chief Executive Officer
+(27) 76 411 3803
Non-Executive Chairman of the Board
VP Corporate Development
This press release contains “forward‑looking information” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward‑looking information includes, but is not limited to, statements regarding, the DFS and the summary information extracted therefrom, the exploration plans of the Company at the Kobada Gold Project and the development timetable for the Kobada Gold Project. Generally, forward‑looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will be taken”, “occur” or “be achieved”. Forward‑looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of AGG to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward‑looking information, including but not limited to: receipt of necessary approvals; general business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties; future prices of mineral prices; accidents, labour disputes and shortages and other risks of the mining industry. Although AGG has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward‑looking information. AGG does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.NEITHER TSX VENTURE EXCHANGE NOR ITS REGULATION SERVICES PROVIDER (AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED IN THE POLICIES OF THE TSX VENTURE EXCHANGE) ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ADEQUACY OR ACCURACY OF THIS RELEASE.