Gold developer West African Resources (WAF), listed on the ASX and TSX-V, has made a key management appointment as it moves into the development phase for its 90-% owned Sanbrado gold project in Burkina Faso. Sanbrado will be mined by both open-pit and underground methods.

Matthew Wilcox will join the West African executive team as Chief Development Officer in September and will directly manage the construction of Sanbrado. He is highly experienced in the gold mining construction industry in West Africa, having spent the past eight years working for Nord Gold SE, which operates nine gold mines globally, including three mines in Burkina Faso and one mine in Guinea.

Wilcox was Project Director for the construction of Nord Gold’s 4 Mt/a Bissa gold project and 8 Mt/a Bouly gold project, both located in Burkina Faso. He was General Manager of the 6 Mt/a LEFA gold project in Guinea and, most recently, was Project Director for the construction of the 12 Mt/a Gross gold project in Siberia, Russia.

He has also worked with engineering firms Lycopodium and Minproc based in Perth. He holds Bachelor of Science (Applied Chemistry) and Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) degrees from Curtin University, Perth.

WAF recently announced the results of its updated Feasibility Study (FS) for Sanbrado. The study envisages an initial 11-year mine life, including 4,5 years of underground mining, and showed a 76 % increase in probable reserves to 1,6 Moz (20,4 Mt at 2,4 g/t gold). The project will have average annual production over the first five years of mine life of 211 000 ounces gold and a 16-month post-tax pay back on US$185 million pre-production capital costs.

Optimisation of the FS process plant is underway following completion of the updated FS in June. The company has identified that by increasing the size and power of both the SAG and ball mills to 4 MW each from 3 MW and 3,2 MW respectively, the throughput rate while feeding higher grade fresh (hard) ore can be increased to maintain a minimum feed rate of 2,0 Mt/a, up from the 1,6 Mt/a detailed in the FS.

The benefit is a reduced mine life from 11 years to approximately eight years and a reduction in capital spares requirements by utilising common spares. A substantial improvement in project economics is expected by reducing the FS mine schedule without a material change in capital requirements. Optimisation of the plant design is ongoing and will continue during detailed design which is expected to be completed by Q1 2019.

Early construction works have commenced at Sanbrado. The 150 000 m3 water storage pit located in the stage 2 M5 open pit has been completed and is filling up with surface water runoff from the current wet season. The location of the underground portal has been confirmed and WAF expects to break ground on the underground portal in October following the wet season. Final site selection for the Stage 1 construction camp has also been confirmed. Converted sea containers are being completed in Ouagadougou by a local contractor and their installation on site will commence in October.

WAF has completed all major permitting milestones relating to Sanbrado and says it has received strong interest from international resource banks, debt funds and royalty companies to fund the majority of the project’s capital requirements. The company will review the finance proposals during Q3 2018 and intends to appoint a funding syndicate in Q4 2018.

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