"We are absolutely thrilled to have successfully completed an A$130 million two-tranche placement with no debt. Abujar is now fully funded to commence production in late CY2022."
Abujar is now fully funded to production. Could you comment on this achievement?
CAPEX financing is critical for juniors transitioning to single-asset producers, many investors preferring to wait until the project has reached financial maturity before committing to invest. This is why we are absolutely thrilled to have successfully completed an A$130 million two-tranche placement with no debt. Abujar is now fully funded to commence production in late CY2022. This shows the market’s appetite and interest to be part of Abujar becoming the next gold mine in Ivory Coast. The development of our 3.45Moz Abujar gold project has been accelerated after this placement.
Could you summarize the most recent developments at Tietto Minerals?
In April this year, we delivered a maiden Measured gold resource of 7.7 Mt @1.4 g/t Au for 350,000oz. Together with the Indicated gold resources, we are looking at a total of 26.2Mt @ 1.4 g/t Au for 1.15Moz1 at AG Core, and an updated MRE of 98.7Mt @ 1.1 g/t Au for 3.45Moz. Using the updated MRE, we plan to update the LOM production plan in 2022 basing on an increased mill throughput and higher gold prices. Infill drilling continues to deliver high-grade intercepts as we look to convert Indicated resources into Measured. We have also just published scoping study results demonstrating that heap leaching can be used for lower grade ore at APG with excellent gold recoveries (of up to 95%), in addition to the 4.5Mp carbon-in-leach operation. This could deliver additional value for shareholders.
What are the highlights of your DFS?
We delivered our highly anticipated DFS last October 2021. Abujar presented a compelling 1.45Moz reserve project forecasted to produce 260,000 oz/year in the first year of production, and 200,000 oz/year over the first six years. Our IRR is at 155% pre-tax and 95% post-tax. Our CAPEX was also revised down from the PFS to US$200 million, with a very short payback period of under one year from first gold production. The open pit probable reserves have been updated up to 34.4Mt at 1.3g/t Au. Over the entire 11 years initial LOM, Abujar should generate a revenue of US$2.87 billion, with plenty of opportunities to grow into this base.
How are the construction of the CIL mine and site facilities progressing?
Abujar is fully permitted and we are on schedule to pour first gold by Q4 2022. We are very pleased to have Matt Wilcox in charge of construction – Matt and his team were behind West African Resources’ Sanbrado Gold Mine in Burkina Faso, a project delivered ahead of schedule and under budget, so we are confident we have the right people on the job. We kick-started the construction in November 2021, and the CIL plant is well on track for first gold pour in late 2022.
The community has been very supportive – well aware of and are prepared to welcome large-scale open pit operations in the region, they look forward to enjoying benefits from local procurement and employment. As a company, Tietto has paid great attention to different projects in the country so that we can maximize the utilization of local skills at both managerial and technical levels.
What are the main challenges of transitioning from a junior to a producer?
Entering Ivory Coast at the end of its domestic crisis, I started a long and fruitful exploration journey in a country that I still consider to be one of the best in terms of exploration and project development. The main challenge Tietto faces today is to transition from a junior explorer to mining operators of a reasonably large open pit mine and processing system – and this involves many changes. There are many examples of companies doing this successfully. Key is to have strong leadership and we are currently appointing a team with a strong track record of mining operations in West Africa.
Tietto holds a large land package in Ivory Coast. What is your exploration strategy from here on?
We have only explored 10% of our 1,114km2 land area, including 70km strike length gold corridor across our three Abujar tenements. The upside potential is immense. Within 10km of Abujar, we have identified at least 20 other prospects. Tietto is defining targets in both the northern and southern tenements, with over 30 targets ready for drilling. While we move into production, we should be able to feed in greater resources and increase the output.
To de-risk the first two years of production, we have completed over 30,000m infill drilling to delineate Measured Resources, as well as started a 5,000m AG deep drilling to explore the underground potential under the main ore reserves of the AG Core. Tietto has an in-house drilling capacity of over 10,000m DD/month with our six drill rigs at a cost of US$35 per meter. This makes us a truly unique explorer with gold sector leading low drilling costs and the flexibility to drill according to our needs.
Do you have a final message for our audience?
My simple message is that we have committed to delivering this project. From the day we received the exploration license in late 2014, into the construction phase, to securing the financing, step-by-step we have grown Abujar from a pure grassroots exploration license into a standalone gold mine in late 2022.