Etruscan continued with construction work activities at its 90% owned Youga gold property, which is located about 180 km southeast of Ouagadougou. Gold reserve estimates at the Youga Mine were reported to be 6.6 Mt at an average grade of 2.7 g/t gold. Commissioning of the mine was scheduled for mid-2007, and production was expected to be about 2,700 kilograms per year (kg/yr). As of November 30, 2006, the company had invested about $21.7 million in the project, had made purchase commitments of about $7 million for equipment and services, and had made additional purchase commitments of about $10.2 million for ongoing development activities.
High River continued with the construction of the Taparko-Boroum open pit gold mine and mill facilities, which are located about 200 km northeast of Ougadougou. The mine’s first gold pour was scheduled for the second quarter of 2007. Initial production was expected to be about 3,100 kg/yr and to reach about 4,400 kg/yr by 2008. Measured and indicated resources were estimated to be about 12.6 Mt of ore at a grade of 2.77 g/t gold. The Taparko-Boroum Mine and mill would be operated by High River’s subsidiary Société des Mines de Taparko (Somita S.A.). High River held a 90% interest in the project, and the Government held the remaining 10%. In addition to Taparko-Boroum, High River held other exploration licenses in the country, including the 1,000-km2 Bissa Group permits, which are located about 80 km north of Ouagadougou. Measured and indicated resources for the Bissa Group were estimated to be about 12 Mt of ore at a grade of 1.72 g/t gold. The company invested about $2 million in exploration in 2006 and planned to invest an additional $8 million in 2007 to test identified target areas at the Bissa Group properties.
In November, Goldcrest signed an earn-in agreement with Phelps Dodge Exploration Corporation of the United States whereby Phelps Dodge could earn up to a 70% interest in some of the properties for which Goldcrest held exploration permits in Burkina Faso. The agreement was contingent upon Phelps Dodge funding the projects through the completion of a bankable feasibility study. These properties included the Danyoro, the Malba, and the Souhouera copper-gold prospects.
In February 2006, Semafo awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction contract for the development of the Mana gold mine to Genviar Consulting Group Inc. According to the company’s 2006 annual report, measured resources were estimated to be about 2.1 Mt at a grade of 1.99 g/t gold and indicated resources were estimated to be 2.5 Mt at a grade of 2.03 g/t gold. Average production, which was expected to begin in late 2007, was estimated to be about 3,900 kg/yr of gold for the first 3 years and about 3,000 kg/yr for the remaining life of the mine. The company approved a $3.5 million budget for the project for 2007.