ENDEAVOUR Mining is to pay $52m in order to lift its stake in the 76,000 ounce per year Ity mine to 80% from its current holding of 55% following agreement with Côte d’Ivoire state-owned mining firm, SODEMI.
In addition to the one-off payment, Endeavour will also pay SODEMI $5 per ounce of additional reserves added to the mine after December 31. The transaction is expected to be completed “in the coming weeks”, said Endeavour Mining.
The increased exposure is an important precursor to approval of a proposed $307m carbon-in-leach (CIL) project at Ity which would see the mine lift average production to 165,000 oz/year in its first five years, and 114,000 oz for the remainder of its life. Project length would be about 20 months from investment decision.
Ity produced 75,867 oz in Endeavour Mining’s 2016 financial year, but the expectation is that it will increase output to between 75,000 to 80,000 oz in the current year at an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of $740 to $780/oz.
The balance of the mine is held through the remainder of the government’s stake, and Didier Drogba, the former Chelsea footballing star, who has a 10% holding.
“We are delighted to have concluded this agreement with our long-standing partners at Ity, which demonstrates the willingness of all parties to progress with the development of the Ity CIL project for the benefit of all stakeholders,” said Sébastien de Montessus, President & CEO of Endeavour in a statement.
“This is an important step in continuing to develop our internal growth strategy as Ity has the potential to become one of our flagship assets, in addition to Houndé which is on schedule for a first gold pour in the fourth quarter,” he said.
Including Houndé and the Ity heap leach project, Endeavour is on course for production of about 900,000 oz/year by the 2019 financial year from 462,000 oz/year in its 2014 financial year when it was producing gold at an AISC of $1,010/oz. AISC for 2019 is pencilled in at less than $800/oz, according to Endeavour forecasts.
Total production for the current financial year has been estimated at between 600,000 to 640,000 oz/year from 584,000 oz in the 2016 financial year. The difference is a first contribution from Houndé and increased production from Endeavour’s Karma mine. Both Karma and Houndé are in Burkina Faso.
De Montessus said the company was optimising last year’s published feasibility study for Ity which would “most likely” see an increase in the previously announced three million tonne per year plant design. This was “… to better capture the value generated from recent exploration discoveries, and to take into account the area’s significant additional exploration potential,” he said.
The Ity CIL project has the potential to be a long-life, low-cost mine with exploration upside that can add materially to our overall production and be a positive cash flow generator, while lowering our group all-in sustaining cost profile,” said De Montessus earlier this year.