"I personally include Senegal in what I would call the “Africa Alley” formed of Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, and Senegal - a league of countries that offer relatively high geopolitical and regulatory stability."
Following the second drilling round, could you bring us up to date with the main highlights at Diamba Sud?
Our flagship Diamba Sud is right on the eastern side of Senegal on the Senegal Mali Shear Zone (SMSZ), which is a structural corridor hosting a large number of world class mines, including Fekola, Loulo, Gounkoto, Sadiola and Yatela, which share similar characteristics with what we see at Diamba. We recently completed a 4,000 m drilling program that has produced even better results than the already significant ones to date. The drilling has pointed towards a shared mineralization model seen in these neighboring tier-one assets. At Area D our results indicate continuous thick, high-grade mineralization with 55 m at 4.3 g/mt and 48 m at 6.7 g/mt very close to surface across the section. With five adjacent holes giving 200 m wide coverage and open in multiple directions including depth these results enhance the potential for us to reach the type of scale seen at the other mines on the SMSZ.
Could you evaluate the geological and geopolitical prospects of Senegal, a country that underwent less exploration compared to its neighbors?
Senegal has two Birimian greenstone belts which host significant gold deposits, however, it’s a relatively new and smaller gold producer within West Africa. Senegal has had limited historical exploration for gold largely as a consequence of the political situation prior to 2000, which marked the end of the post French Independence socialist government. However, it has had very stable democratic elections since, which is a rarity in Africa. Modern exploration started with the introduction of the mining code in 2003, which was later revised in 2016, providing a stable regulatory framework. Due to the topography of the region, however, early exploration techniques were not successful in detecting anomalies. I personally include Senegal in what I would call the “Africa Alley” formed of Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, and Senegal - a league of countries that offer relatively high geopolitical and regulatory stability. From a corporate standpoint, we can see encouraging developments like Resolute buying Toro Gold, Massawa being purchased by Teranga, and a US$4 billion offshore liquid gas project in the pipeline.
With fresh funds raised for the next drilling phase, what can you tell us about the profile of Chesser Resources investors’ base?
Chesser Resources has traditionally been a majority retail-held company, with largely Australian investors, but over the last year and a half we have been receiving greater exposure from European, British, and North American investors, and now we are looking to grow our offshore component. Our latest financing was heavily oversubscribed, and we have been encouraged by the number of mainly Australian institutions supporting us. We are now fully financed to run our next drilling program, which will be a significant one, starting in October after the rainy season.
How do you think the spike in gold prices will impact the junior space?
The typical pattern is that gold producers are the first to react to major gold price moves, and then the exploration companies start catching up. I believe there is still room to run for gold prices, and the coronavirus and economic uncertainty will change the outlook for the next few years. Funding for exploration has been sparse over the last five years, so we expect to see a rush to assets in order to meet production demand because there is a scarcity of quality assets out there and so majors and mid-tiers will need a pipeline of projects to scale up resources.
How do you see the status of gold as a safe haven asset upholding in the long run?
In the recent past, gold has not held up as its traditional safe haven when things go bad, but the current trend has restored some confidence in the commodity, as currencies devaluate, productivity stalls and uncertainty in the world outlook have turned the market towards gold. The rush to gold funds reflects this turn.
What comes next for Chesser Resources?
The next big step for us is advancing the discovery at Area D. It may be the continuation of the mineralized trend at our high-grade Area A, so we have a large drilling program to understand and hopefully significantly extend the very encouraging shallow mineralization we have encountered to date. By the summer of 2021, we hope to have a big part of our drilling program completed and be in a position to start putting together our maiden resource, which would be a key milestone since we only acquired the property in 2017. In parallel we will seek to de-risk the project with a first phase of metallurgy to be undertaken to test for the unlikely presence of refractory ore at the property, as we expect to ramp up development activities in the short to medium-term.
Do you have a final message?
I believe the spectacular results derived so far speak for themselves, and it is my view that we have only scratched the surface of it, since the discoveries to date have been in very shallow ground, and there is great potential to expand in depth and along strike. All the features of something significant are there, and we believe we have unlocked the “geological code,” so to speak, so the only remaining question is that of drilling. The share price growth happens during the discovery phase, and we have great potential for the future in an area with active neighbors, a hot jurisdiction, and high gold prices which set us up really well for the months to come in terms of news flow and the potential growth of the company.