African Barrick Gold has changed its name to Acacia Mining. The company was formed in 2010 through a spin-out by Barrick Gold of its mining assets in Tanzania, and Barrick continues to hold a 64% interest in the company.
Acacia Mining has three producing mines in northwest Tanzania—Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi and North Mara—and a portfolio of exploration projects in Tanzania, Kenya and Burkina Faso. The company produced about 700,000 oz of gold in 2014 and is forecasting production of more than 750,000 oz in 2015.
Accompanying the announcement of the name change, Acacia also announced approval of development of an underground mining operation at its Gokona pit at North Mara and an earn-in agreement to participate in a gold exploration project in Burkina Faso.
At Gokona, Acacia will utilize an existing exploration decline for initial access to the planned underground mine. Two major declines are included in the mine plan. Mining will be by long hole open stoping with cemented aggregate fill. The project is based on proven and probable reserves of 2 million mt grading 8.07 g/mt gold and containing 516,000 oz of gold.
Acacia anticipates that Gokona underground ore will be blended with lower-grade ore from the Nyabirama open pit, increasing feed to the North Mara processing plant to its design capacity of 2.8 million mt/y.
Pre-production capital for the underground project is estimated at $37 million. The project is expected to produce a total of 450,000 oz of gold over a five-year mine life, with all-in sustaining costs of under $750/oz.
Further upside exists beyond the initial Gokona underground mine life, with potential for lateral extensions, as well as for mining mineralization that remains open beneath the 300-m vertical depth cutoff used in the current mine plan. Historical drilling shows that mineralization extends down to 900 m vertical depth. Underground mining will provide access for exploration drilling stations, with potential for upgrading this mineralization to mineable reserves.
In Burkina Faso, Acacia has entered into an agreement with Sarama Resources whereby Acacia can earn up to a 70% interest in Sarama’s South Houndé project through expenditure of up to $14 million over a four-year period and then the right to acquire an additional 5% interest upon declaration of a minimum mineral reserve of 1.6 million oz of gold.
The South Houndé project comprises seven contiguous exploration licenses covering a total area of 814 km2. Sarama’s work to date has identified a number of high-quality targets and an inferred resource of 1.5 million oz of gold. The project area is considered to have significant upside potential, both for expansion of the existing resource and for discovery of new gold deposits.