Australian miner raises $100m for Burkina Faso gold project

GOLD miner West African Resources is to raise A$150m (US$100m) through a share placement that will complete funding for its 234,000 ounces a year Kiaka project in Burkina Faso.

The balance of funds for the US$447m project will be drawn from cash and bullion holdings of A$484m (US$325m), operating cash flow, and an equipment financing arrangement. Once complete in 2025, the project will propel West African output to more than 420,000 oz a year.

“West African continues to make significant progress towards development of the Kiaka Gold Project with development 50% complete and 75% of capital costs fixed,” said Richard Hyde, executive chairman of West African in a statement on Thursday.

“Proceeds from the placement are expected to provide West African with proforma cash at bank and unsold bullion proceeds of A$604m (US$406m), positioning West African to continue to rapidly progress the development of the Kiaka Gold Project,” said Hyde.

The share placement, which will be for 109.5 million shares at a generous 13.8% discount to the company’s close on Monday (July 1), is remarkable inasmuch as Burkina Faso is ruled by a military junta tackling rampant jihadism.

An attack on a military outpost near the border with Niger earlier this month, that killed more than 100 Burkinese soldiers, was one of the worst suffered by the country’s army in the decade, said the Financial Times last week. Burkina Faso has been fighting al-Qaeda affiliate Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), which claimed responsibility for the assault, and other militant groups.

The bloodshed puts further pressure on the junta, led by 36-year-old army captain Ibrahim Traoré, which seized power in September 2022 promising to improve security. “There hasn’t been an improvement,” said Ulf Laessing, Sahel programme director for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the German think-tank. “By his own standards, Traoré has some explaining to do.”

Despite this shares in West African have gained 40% year-to-date. The share today traced down (to A$1.38/share) close to the issue price of $A1.37/share.

Hyde said previously his company would “rather work on good projects in a challenging jurisdiction than challenging projects in a better jurisdiction”.

The company has guided to production this year of 190,000 to 210,00 oz from its Sanbrado mine, also in Burkina Faso. Sanbrado is forecast to produce gold at an all-in sustaining cost this year of less than $1,300/oz. Kiaka is forecast to operate at an average AISC of $1,196/oz over 20 years.

On July 2, West African updated its gold reserves and resources for Kiaka. The project’s ore reserve increased to 4.8 million oz of gold. Group gold production was expected to average 480,000 oz/year from 2026 to 2031, it added.