Tag Archives: Burkina Faso

Howden delivers mine cooling plant at Roxgold’s Yaramoko mine

Howden says it has successfully delivered the first phase of an 8 MW surface bulk air cooling plant for Roxgold’s Yaramoko gold mine in Burkina Faso.

The Yaramoko Mine Complex is in a remote region of Burkina Faso, 200 km southwest of Ouagadougou.

The cooling plant is designed to deliver a maximum of 190 cu.m/s of chilled downcast ventilation air, with the air cooled from a design ambient temperature of 25.8°C, down to 15°C.

The plant comprises an open-spray vertical bulk air cooler located on top of the shaft collar, centrifugal chillers and conventional cooling towers, Howden explained.

Plant design and construction were started at the beginning of 2020 during the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and, despite a challenging environment, Howden successfully delivered the project’s first phase in May.

Howden said: “This latest project continues to positioning Howden as a process and system specialist to design, supply and install mine cooling systems. Howden has a technology-neutral approach whereby technology options are offered which best suits customer’s technical and commercial requirements.”

The Yaramoko Mine Complex, which consists of two underground operations, delivered production of 35,308 oz of gold in the March quarter, Roxgold reported in May.

Orezone ties up LNG and solar power options for Bomboré gold project

Orezone Gold Corp’s Bomboré gold project is to become the first mine in Burkina Faso to use LNG to power its operations after the Vancouver-based company signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Genser Energy Burkina SA for the supply of “clean energy electrical power” to the project.

Under the PPA, Genser will use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as its main fuel, augmented with a staged solar plant, Orezone said. A fixed rate energy tariff will apply over the life of mine oxide operation with a fixed rate tariff to be negotiated for the additional energy demand upon commissioning of the sulphide processing circuit expected in Year three of commercial production.

The power plant will consist of 6 2.5 MW LNG generators with four 2.6 MW diesel back-up units. This configuration is sized for the initial oxide operation and the planned sulphide expansion, the company explained. At the same time, a solar photovoltaic plant, up to 14 MWp, is to be installed in stages with an 11 kV powerline to connect the gas and backup diesel generators, and solar plant.

Genser is to design, permit, finance and install all power generating equipment and associated infrastructure including LNG storage and diesel storage terminals. It will also be the operator and owner of the power plant facility.

Patrick Downey, President & CEO of Orezone, said: “We are extremely excited to be the first mine in Burkina Faso to use a LNG and solar hybrid power supply. Besides being an excellent cost-effective choice for Bomboré, we also see this new power solution as being a very positive step for the Burkina Faso mining and electricity generating sectors. LNG power systems, coupled with solar, will enable energy intensive industries such as mining to reduce fuel consumption, decrease energy costs, and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

He added: “This life of mine fixed cost agreement for clean energy from Genser provides power cost certainty over life of mine oxide production at Bomboré and provides an excellent platform for project expansion and growth.”

The Honourable Dr Bachir Ismael Ouedraogo, The Minister of Mines and Energy for Burkina Faso, said: “Having the first LNG plant at a mining operation is a great step forward for the industry and we congratulate Orezone in this regard. As a government, we continue to support clean energy alternatives that provides a platform for sustainable growth and benefits our communities.”

Alongside the announcement of the PPA, Orezone said that significant progress had been made at Bomboré during the first two quarters of the year. Engineering is now approximately 30% complete and on schedule, with design and bulk quantities from this work trending favourably against the quantity estimates used in the 2019 feasibility study.

Procurement is well advanced with firm orders placed for most mechanical and electrical equipment with purchase costs generally below budget estimates, it added.

In January, the company appointed Lycopodium Minerals Pty Ltd as the project’s EPCM contractor, while, in February, Sila Equipement ET BTP SA was named as its open-pit mining contractor.

Meanwhile, bulk materials including concrete reinforcing bar and embeds, CIL tank platework, structural steel and platework, HDPE liner, and overland piping have also been ordered with costs also trending within budget, Orezone said.

Off-channel reservoir mining, earthworks for the plant site area and tailings storage facility are rapidly advancing, and the award of the contracts for concrete installation and CIL tank erection and overland piping are imminent, it added.

Orezone’s 2019 feasibility study on Bomboré envisaged a 5.2 Mt/y throughput operation able to produce, on average, 117,760 oz of gold over a 13-year mine life where both oxide and sulphides would be mined and processed. The project remains on track for first gold pour in the September quarter of 2022.

B2Gold weighs use of dual fuel haul trucks at Kiaka project

B2Gold’s strong growth path in Africa looks like continuing into future years after the company laid out preliminary plans to develop a mine in Burkina Faso that could use on-site hybrid power in addition to dual fuel haul trucks burning a mix of diesel fuel and LNG.

The Vancouver-based miner reported record total production in 2020 of 1.04 Moz of gold, with its Fekola (Mali) and Ojikoto (Namibia) mines contributing some 790,559 oz. It is guiding for 970,000- 1.03 Moz of gold in 2021.

In announcing these results, the company also provided an update on its Kiaka gold project in Burkina Faso.

This project, which B2Gold owns 81% of, currently hosts 4.25 Moz of indicated resources on a 100% basis at an average grade of 0.95 g/t Au. It also comes with 900,000 oz of inferred resources at 0.99 g/t.

The company is currently updating the existing feasibility study for the Kiaka project, reflecting, it says, the potential for improved economics resulting from lower fuel prices, alternative power options and a higher gold price.

A mineral resource model using additional drill results and revised model interpretations was completed in December, with the study set to leverage the new resource and several new concepts to reduce costs. Included among these new concepts is a plan to use a liquid natural gas (LNG) hybrid power plant combined with solar power, and dual fuel haul trucks that burn a mix of diesel fuel and LNG.

A larger processing plant size of 12 Mt/y is also being considered for this updated feasibility study, it said.

B2Gold expects to have an internal decision document completed by the end of March, with an updated feasibility study completed by the end of June.

Sila Equipement to take on contract mining task at Orezone’s Bomboré gold project

Orezone Gold Corp has selected Sila Equipement ET BTP SA as its open-pit mining contractor for the Bomboré gold project in Burkina Faso.

This follows the January appointment of Lycopodium Minerals Pty Ltd as the lead EPCM contractor for the project.

Sila, a Burkinabé company, will initially have a contract scope that covers the mining of the Off-Channel Reservoir (OCR) pit, as well as the upfront establishment of mine site services (maintenance workshops, wash bays, warehouse, ablutions and accommodations, offices, and communications), the clearing and grubbing of the OCR footprint including topsoil relocation, as well as pit dewatering and haul road maintenance.

Orezone said mining of the OCR is an important milestone given that the pit will serve as the main water storage facility during operations.

“The mobilisation of Sila will ensure that the OCR and its related infrastructure will be ready well in advance of the onset of the 2022 rainy season,” the company explained.

Orezone says it is working in partnership with Sila to finalise certain key terms under the long-term mining contract.

Patrick Downey, President and CEO, said: “With the project financing now in place, we are rapidly advancing the engineering, procurement, and construction of the project. The early award of the mining contract will allow our project to remain on schedule.

“I am pleased that Sila, a local contractor, has been awarded this work which speaks to the depth and continued growth of the mining service industry in Burkina Faso. The company’s selection of Sila was made after a competitive tender and due diligence process including a review of safety and operational performance in free-dig oxide operations such as Bomboré. Sila has demonstrated an excellent track record in other similar Burkina Faso mining operations.”

He added: “The proposed mining fleet is brand new equipment and will be operated by Sila’s highly experienced senior operations and maintenance team.”

Since the recent appointment of Lycopodium in January as the EPCM contractor, the company says it has rapidly advanced engineering and procurement activities, and made significant progress on refining the project construction timeline. The company’s key procurement and site-based activities in the upcoming months will be focused on the following:

  • Pre-production mining to commence in March 2021;
  • Ball mill order (a critical long lead item) to be placed in March 2021;
  • Award of power plant contract in March 2021; and
  • Site-wide bulk earthworks to commence April 2021.

Autonomous drilling transition sets IAMGOLD’s Essakane up for longer mine life

The roots of IAMGOLD’s automation ambitions at the Côté gold project in Ontario, Canada, can be traced back to remote and auto drilling developments at its 90%-owned Essakane mine in Burkina Faso, which, according to a recent presentation from Zhi Jun Zhu, has resulted in significant operational benefits.

IAMGOLD launched the first automated drill rig in West Africa with assistance from Epiroc back in February at Essakane. This followed a series of automation steps carried out on the company’s fleet of Epiroc PV235 blasthole drills, beginning with the ‘Operator Assist’ phase back in 2016.

Added to the seven PV235 blasthole drills on site are five Sandvik D45KSs. These drills are working in medium-to-hard material of 100-250 Mpa rock where they drill 229 mm and 152 mm diameter holes on 10 m benches. They come with a single pass limit of up to 12.2 m in down-the-hole drilling mode.

The business case for adopting automation at the site, which began operating in 2010 and was expanded in 2013 to reach a mining capacity of 55 Mt/y, was centred around a capex versus opex dynamic – should the company purchase a new rig to increase drilling performance by 15%, or try to increase the use of automation on its existing seven PV235s to hit this goal?

Alongside this, the company wanted to provide its best drillers with the ability to operate multiple rigs simultaneously, enhance operational safety, support continued sustainability, and improve performance and productivity.

Zhu, who worked at Essakane as Technical Services Coordinator for five years prior to his current role as Autonomous Systems Engineer at Côté, explained during the recent GMG-led Autonomous Drills Virtual Forum: “During the start-up of the mine, the required fragmentation size was difficult to achieve because the ore was coming from the soft area where it was highly weathered and fractured. As the mine depth increased, the material got harder. As a result, the blasting fragmentation became harder to achieve. At the same time as the percentage of hard material increased, productivity of the crusher became a concern and bottleneck.”

With the last life of mine study in 2018 showing a required increase in the total material mined to keep up an average gold production rate of 400,000 oz/y – and the requirement to strip hard material from phase four, five, six and seven to reach a new ore zone from 2026 – the company needed to embed a suitable level of blasthole drill automation in advance of another expansion in the mine life.

Prior to 2016, Essakane required two people to operate a PV235 – one to guide the machine to the desired location and another to operate it.

This was neither safe or efficient, Zhu said, adding that hole deviation and sub-optimal fragmentation were also common with this setup.

Breaking down the project key performance indicators after the initial ramp up of remote and autonomous operation, Zhu said the company was looking for:

  • An improved drilling penetration rate of 15%:
    • 23 m/operating hour (propel + setup + drill); and
    • 28 m/drilling hour.
  • Improved drilling productivity from 63% to 75%:
    • Eliminate stoppage delays associated with lunch and shift change;
    • Lean drilling, less propel/tram and setup/positioning time.
  • Increased drilling capacity from 81,714 to 108,800 drilling meters/rig/year.

Having progressed from the ‘Rig Operator Assist’ mode in 2016, which used Epiroc’s Rig Control System, Surface Manager, Auto Level, first generation AutoDrill module, and Hole Navigation; the company has progressed to the ‘Rig Remote Operation’ phase where (Multi) Remote and AutoDrill generation two functions are employed.

This second-generation system represents a “big advance”, Zhu said.

“The system is very smart and could continuously optimise the engagement to deliver the desired result,” he said. “The only manual input required is the ‘aggressiveness’ setting, which balances the bit life with the penetration rate.”

This led to the launch of its first fully automated drill rig on February 8.

While the project is on course to hit all the above-mentioned KPIs, there have been other benefits including an operating hours improvement of 645 hours/year/rig; a 14,835 m/year/rig drilling metres gain; a $356,040/rig incremental annual production benefit; and a net cost saving of $202,794/rig compared with the equivalent rental equipment drilling cost.

All of these add to fewer people being in dangerous areas on the mine site – with all operators in remote operating centres – more consistent operation from a fuels/lubricants and drilling consumables perspective and, of course, less maintenance.

Reflecting on the implementation, Zhu noted several key required inputs for a successful automation implementation program.

“It is a critical requirement to have a reliable network connection between the on-board device and the remote operations office,” he said.

On top of this, the sensors on the machines need to be kept in top shape, meaning maintenance teams should evaluate their health on a regular basis and always keep spare parts available.

And, while fewer people will be needed to oversee drilling in autonomous mode, the skills level of the required personnel will be that much greater.

Some of the next steps at Essakane include improving the bandwidth and latency time for real-time control of multi-automated drills, developing a preventive maintenance system checklist, and carrying out a business case study on upgrading four PV235s to either Teleremote/AutoDrill 2 operation.

Zhu will no doubt bring these learnings and opportunities to the Côté gold development in Canada, which is expected to operate six blasthole drills in fully autonomous mode when ramped up, alongside more than 20 fully automated haul trucks. These will help the mine reach an average production rate of 367,000 oz/y of gold.

Orezone makes Bomboré headway with Lycopodium EPCM award

Orezone Gold is moving closer to the construction phase at its 90% owned Bomboré project in Burkina Faso after awarding an EPCM contract for the gold asset, completing a Phase I Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) with nearby communities, and making progress on awarding both mining and power plant Build-Own-Operate contracts.

The company has awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction management contract to Lycopodium Minerals Pty Ltd, a company, Orezone says, has an excellent track record of delivering projects on time and on budget in West Africa.

When it comes to the Phase 1 RAP, Orezone said all villages and infrastructure have now been completed.

“Relocation of households is proceeding smoothly with relocation substantially complete,” it noted. “This opens access to all areas required for the preparation of the process plant, surface infrastructure, and key mining areas including the off-channel reservoir and tailings storage facility.”

Alongside this work, Orezone has undertaken a competitive tender process for the contract mining agreement at Bomboré, including bidder site visits and a detailed assessment of proposals received.

The company plans to award the open-pit mining contract in early 2021 to allow for contractor mobilisation, site establishment, and commencement of pre-production mining by the end of the March quarter.

Bids for the Build-Own-Operate power plant, meanwhile, have recently been received from companies specialising in providing power solutions in West Africa, Orezone said. The company expects to award this contract in the current quarter.

Orezone’s 2019 feasibility study on Bomboré envisaged a 5.2 Mt/y throughput operation able to produce, on average, 117,760 oz of gold over a 13-year mine life where both oxide and sulphides would be mined and processed.

The company said negotiations for conventional project debt covering a major portion of the initial project construction budget of $153 million were advancing “rapidly and smoothly”, with expectations of binding debt commitments being announced later this month.

As currently planned, first gold is scheduled for early in the September quarter of 2022.

Patrick Downey, President and CEO, said: “Awarding the EPCM contract to Lycopodium is a key step to ensure the continued successful development and construction of the Bomboré project. With more than 12 mines built in West Africa, Lycopodium’s track record of building efficient mines on time and on budget is unparalleled.

“Lycopodium is very familiar with Bomboré, having performed the 2018 Feasibility Study, the 2019 Updated Feasibility Study, and the previously completed front-end engineering and design.”

Downey said Lycopodium will be able to immediately build on its past work and progress the project in a cost effective and timely manner.

Perenti’s AUMS wins two-year extension at Roxgold’s Yaramoko mine

Perenti subsidiary, African Underground Mining Services (AUMS), has been awarded a contract extension at Roxgold’s Yaramoko mine in Burkina Faso.

The contract extension is valued at around A$200 million ($146 million) over two years, from December 2021 to December 2023. It follows on from the existing development and production scope currently being executed, taking the total contracted work-in-hand at Yaramoko to some A$350 million as at the end of August 2020, Perenti said.

AUMS is an operating business unit of Barminco and has been successfully operating at the mine since the development of the Zone 55 portal in 2015. The project, 200 km southwest of Ouagadougou, has now grown to include the Bagassi South mine.

In the June quarter, Yaramoko produced 32,812 oz of gold, according to Roxgold.

Barminco’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, said: “The high-grade Yaramoko complex is an important project for Roxgold, Barminco and the people of the Yaramoko community. We are very pleased to extend our contract with Roxgold to December 2023 and look forward to continuing to create enduring value and certainty for our client, employees, shareholders and the people of Yaramoko and Burkina Faso alike.”

Perenti Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Norwell, said Barminco and AUMS, combined, are a global leader in hard rock underground mining, with this contract extension reinforcing this sector leading position.

Astec Industries looks to boost Africa and Middle East business with Aramine tie-up

Astec Industries, through its newly organised Africa and Middle East (AME) business unit, has announced a distribution partnership with France-based mining and underground solutions specialist Aramine.

This strategic alliance will enhance the supply, distribution and service of Astec mining, quarrying and materials handling equipment in numerous African countries, Astec said. This includes rock breaker systems, rock crushers, feeders, vibrating screens, conveyors, washing and classifying equipment for open-pit mines, alongside underground mining products and bulk material handling systems.

Aramine has been appointed as a dealer for Astec Material Solutions products in Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, and Niger in West Africa, as well as in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco in the Maghreb region.

Vinesh Surajlall, Director – Material Solutions at Astec AME (pictured), said: “The expansion of the Astec portfolio that will be distributed by Aramine is an important evolution in our commercial relations, as we collaborate in very active and demanding markets in West Africa and the Maghreb.

“With this partnership, we are developing a new customer proximity offer, combining expertise, services and quality products.”

Jaime Martel, Key Regional and Product Manager and Head of Distribution Partnerships at Aramine, says the new venture represents Astec’s confidence in Aramine. The two organisations have enjoyed a longstanding distribution partnership which previously encompassed only the BTI range of rock breaker and boom systems.

“The extension of our alliance, to cover the material solutions offering, will equip us further in meeting the needs of our customers in the regions,” he noted.

In addition to its recognised expertise and technical service, Aramine will leverage its networks of subsidiaries and partners in the regions, Astec said.

The recent group restructuring and the establishment of Astec Industries AME will deliver further benefits for Astec customers in the region, the company says.

“The move forms part of Astec Industries’ international expansion strategy, with regional sales organisations established to improve customer interaction and support for the complete range of Astec products,” Astec said. “Astec Industries AME is one of these regional sales organisations and will be responsible for business relationships in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. The AME offices are based in Elandsfontein, Johannesburg, with regional sales managers positioned strategically within the region to support the business’s dealer network and customers.”

Surajlall concluded: “We look forward to contributing to the continued growth of our customers’ businesses through this enhanced structure, optimised product range and support structures throughout the Astec Industries organisations. This expanded partnership with Aramine represents an important opportunity to strengthen the presence of Astec Industries Inc in these significant territories.”

RCT brings ControlMaster automation tech to SEMAFO-owned Siou underground mine

OEM-agnostic autonomous solutions specialist RCT says it has executed a project with Perenti-owned African Underground Mining Services (AUMS) at the Siou underground gold mine, in Burkina Faso.

Earlier this year, RCT commissioned its ControlMaster® Guidance Automation technology on two of Siou’s Caterpillar R2900G underground LHDs and supplied two associated Automation Centres.

Siou, owned by SEMAFO, is a gold deposit some 20 km from the Mana mine. Conversion of Siou open pit into underground mining operations began in the September quarter of 2018 with full underground production expected shortly, according to SEMAFO.

Guidance Automation enables the loaders to operate with minimal intervention by machine operators located in the Automation Centres, either on the surface of the mine or in a secure location in the underground mine, RCT said.

“The automation solution improves safety onsite by relocating mine personnel away from the mine face and reducing unplanned maintenance downtime by eliminating machine operator errors,” RCT said.

RCT says its Africa-based staff has provided comprehensive training to machine operators and will continue to provide ongoing after-sales support to AUMS.

Endeavour looks to consolidate West Africa gold sector with SEMAFO acquisition

Endeavour Mining is to acquire fellow West Africa-focused gold producer SEMAFO in a friendly, all-share deal that, Endeavour says, will create a top 15 global gold producer and the largest yellow metal miner in West Africa.

The deal, which both sets of Board of Directors have unanimously approved, values SEMAFO at C$1 billion ($694 million) and comes with a 27.2% premium based on the 20-day volume weighted average price of both companies for the period ended March 20, 2020. It would see existing Endeavour and SEMAFO shareholders hold around 70% and 30%, respectively, of the combined company on a “fully-diluted in-the-money basis”.

Such a transaction comes less than six months since SEMAFO suspended operations at its Boungou open-pit mine, in Burkina Faso, following a deadly attack on a public road in the Est region. This led to a seven-week suspension of the mine in 2019. This incident followed on the heels of a pit wall failure at its Mana mine, also in Burkina Faso, in August, that led to a 10-week suspension.

Endeavour, meanwhile, had its hopes of merging with fellow Africa gold producer, Centamin, dashed earlier this year after Endeavour President & CEO, Sebastien de Montessus, said the quality of information received during the accelerated due diligence process had been insufficient to allow the company to be confident in proceeding with a “firm offer” for Centamin.

On a pro-forma basis, a combined Endeavour and SEMAFO would have more than 1 Moz of gold production in 2020 (based on current company guidance), placing it among the top 15 gold producers globally, while all-in sustaining costs (AISC) would be below $900/oz, placing it within the bottom third of the industry cost curve, the companies said.

Assets would include the Ity, Houndé, Agbaou and Karma mines from Endeavour (which produced 651,000 oz at an AISC of $818/oz in 2019) and the Boungou and Mana mines from SEMAFO (which produced 340,900 oz at an AISC of $724/oz in 2019).

Endeavour-SEMAFO would also have 10.5 Moz of reserves and 20.7 Moz of measure and indicated resources (inclusive of reserves), plus an additional 6.3 Moz of inferred resources.

It would be strategically positioned as the largest gold producer in both Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, which account for two-thirds of the highly prospective West African Birimian Greenstone Belt, they said.

It would also consolidate the Houndé belt in Burkina Faso to create a “world-class mining district with two mines, exploration upside and strong future development potential”, they said.

Endeavour said influential investor La Mancha will continue to be a highly supportive cornerstone shareholder, committing to invest $100 million, although decreasing its overall stake from around 31% in Endeavour to about 25% in the combined entity (calculated on a pro-forma basis using current share prices), to “provide for a larger free float and greater stock liquidity”.

These M&A discussions have been going on for some time, according to Endeavour.

In early 2019, both companies engaged in a mutual dialogue in order to evaluate the merits of a business combination. The dialogue included extensive mutual due diligence as well as discussion of potential terms of a transaction, with a final proposal in May 2019. At that time, it was not possible to agree on terms which appropriately shared the risks and rewards of a combination.

In early 2020, discussions between Endeavour and SEMAFO recommenced. Endeavour’s management team completed on-site due diligence at SEMAFO’s operations in Burkina Faso during February 2020, including a comprehensive assessment of security, operations and exploration.

Both companies also re-opened data rooms for mutual confirmatory due diligence, including visits and, following collaborative discussions, confirmed their shared strategic vision and desire to complete a combination subject to negotiation of agreeable terms, they said. Negotiations proceeded, culminating in agreement on the terms of the transaction announced today.

For Endeavour, pursuant to the rules of the TSX, the transaction will require approval by a simple majority of the votes cast by its shareholders. In addition, shareholders of Endeavour will be asked to approve the issuance of Endeavour ordinary shares to La Mancha. For SEMAFO, meanwhile, the transaction will require the approval of 66.6% of votes cast by its shareholders.

It is anticipated that both shareholder meetings and the closing of the transaction will take place in the June quarter of 2020.