"Sanankoro has allowed us to quickly transition from a pre-resource company and early explorer back in 2019 to a development-ready junior, getting close to delivering the DFS by H1 2022."
Could you introduce Cora Gold to our international audience?
Cora Gold was listed in 2017 on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM and we hold over 1,100 km2 of exploration ground across two of West Africa’s prolific gold belts: the Kenieba Window along the Senegal-Mali border, and the Yanfolila belt in southern Mali. Sanankoro is our most advanced project, and we are working towards the publication of a definitive feasibility study (DFS) in H1 2022. The DFS is based on the recently updated mineral resource estimate (MRE), which saw our total resource inventory increase by over 200%. The MRE was supported by our largest ever drilling campaign of over 43,000 m which was completed in October 2021. Also on the Yanfolila belt, we hold a suite of permits in close proximity to the operating mine with the same name, owned by Hummingbird Resources. On the Malian border with Senegal we have made various drilling discoveries in the Diangounté project, which is at a pre-resource stage.
What makes Sanankoro unique and what are the highlights of your current drilling campaign?
After publishing a maiden scoping study in January 2020, we followed up with our largest-ever drilling programme, extended to a total of 43,000 m of drilling conducted from March to October of last year. Drilling results indicated both exceptional widths and grades, with 15 holes retrieving gold mineralisation at +100 m depth. In our final release of drilling results, we published headline hits of 17 m at 17.13 g/t Au from 89 m at the Zone B deposit. Sanankoro is essentially a shallow oxide project with high metallurgical recovery at over 95%. Free-digging, easy-to-process material entails lower processing costs. Sanankoro has allowed us to quickly transition from a pre-resource company and early explorer back in 2019 to a development-ready junior, getting close to delivering the DFS by H1 2022.
Can you tell us more about your shareholder base and financial support?
We count on extremely supportive shareholders with a strong record of backing up multi-mine operating companies in the past. We have already signed a US$25 million conditional term sheet of equity financing to develop the project post-completion of a positive feasibility study. This solid backup led by Lionhead sets us apart from other juniors.
What is Cora Gold’s ESG approach and how can junior companies set an example for sustainable mining practices?
From top to bottom, ESG is crucially important, but it’s good to break down what we mean by this umbrella term: The people aspect or the philanthropic aspect is about ensuring that local communities benefit from mining in their area. In this sense, we think training and education are key, so we play our small part. The environmental considerations are equally significant. Cora Gold has invested in solar hybrid electricity for all of our camps to reduce fuel usage and cut down on our emissions. This is something that small juniors can easily do if they pay enough attention to it. As we move towards the feasibility study, we will be looking at alternative power solutions for the mine. Like many projects in the region, our mine would be off-the-grid, so it’s in our hands to choose a cleaner energy option.
What do you make of general investment sentiment in the gold space?
Producers are making great money at a price north of US$1,700, considering the industry average AISC (operating costs) is around US$1,100/oz. With over US$600/oz estimated margins on average for producers, this is a great time to be in the gold industry. Investment sentiment in gold equities hasn’t been as strong, and some producers trade at one or two times EBITDA, while other sectors see much higher multiples. From this perspective alone, there is significant upside in the gold space. Macro-economic indicators would also suggest that the gold price will stay where it is in a conservative scenario, but others see it moving northwards. In my view, the gold price will not drop back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon.
Can you share a final message with our audience?
This is a truly exciting time for Cora Gold. We are committed to delivering a DFS in H1 2022, which we believe will underline the exceptional returns our Sanankoro project will deliver to all stakeholders. We are supported by a strong shareholder base and key strategic investors that are ready to finance the equity side of the project after the DFS is published. Cora is a reliable junior which is well on its way to deliver a standalone, profitable operation at Sanankoro.