Youga Gold Mine, Burkina Faso


Youga Gold Mine is situated about 180km south-east of Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso. The gold mine is 90% owned by its operator Endeavour Mining, while the remaining ten percent is held by the Government of Burkina Faso.

Commercial production of gold at Youga started in 2008. The Youga operation consists of mining from several open pits, which include the Youga main pit and its satellite pits located within four kilometres of the main pit. The mine employs 410 workers and 350 contractors.

The current life of mine of Youga is 7.3 years. The ongoing drilling and exploration activities at Youga are, however, expected to increase the resources and reserves, while extending the life of mine.

Youga Gold Mine reserves, production and geology

"Commercial production of gold at Youga started in 2008. The Youga operation consists of mining from several open pits."

Proven and probable mineral reserves of Youga were estimated at 448,000oz grading at 1.9g/t of Au. The measured and indicated resources as on December, 2011 were 928,000 ounces (oz), grading at 1.6g/t Au.

Youga produced 91,030oz of gold in 2012. The mine has witnessed consistent year-on-year growth in production since it started operations. The gold production in 2011 was 87,264oz, compared to 82,400oz in 2010 and 64,879oz in 2009.

Youga gold deposits comprise of Tarkwaian and Birimian sediments. Tarkwaian rocks lie upon the Birimian volcanics, volcaniclastics and sediments of the Bole-Navrongo Belt. Also known as the Youga Belt, the Bole-Navrongo Belt extends from north-western Ghana into southern Burkina Faso.

The Tarkwaian sediments at Youga are dominated by arkosic sandstones with quartz and feldspar. The Youga reserves are also hosted by Birimian greenstones that comprise of pyrite, pyrrhotite, arsenopyrite and trace galena.

The gold mineralisation at Youga is structurally controlled and represented by silicification, quartz veining, occasional brecciation and low sulphidation (sulphide content less than one percent).

Gold mining and processing at Endeavour's project

Youga Gold Mine employs conventional open pit methods that involve drilling and blasting of hard rocks. The mining equipment comprises of six trucks, three excavators (two RH 40's and one RH 120) and three Tamrock blast hole drill rigs.

PW Mining is carrying out the drilling, blasting and load hauling at the mine under a contract. Mined ore is processed at the nearby processing plant, which has a design capacity of one million tonnes per annum (mtpa).

The processing plant includes crushing, milling, Carbon In Leach (CIL), elution and gravity concentration facilities. The process recovers approximately 94% of gold, with 40% of ore entering the gravity circuit of the plant.

Exploration and drilling at Burkina Faso's Youga mine

Endeavour has conducted drilling beneath the main pit as well as east and west pits at Youga, which has highlighted the potential for further expansions of the pit.

"Youga Gold Mine employs conventional open pit methods that involve drilling and blasting of hard rocks."

Endeavour also holds six exploration permits to the north-east and south-west of the Youga Gold Mine, covering more than 400 square kilometres.

Regional exploration on these permits has identified Zerbogo (25km south-west of Youga), Bougré (13km south-west of Youga) and Ouaré (35 to 40km north-east of Youga) as significant target areas. Ouaré deposit is currently the priority target for Endeavour.

A Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) on the Ouaré deposit was prepared by Endeavour by the end of 2012. The PEA suggests that the deposit has a measured and indicated resource of 183,000oz grading 1.94g/t Au as potentially economic portion of resources. It also envisages that Youga's mine life can be extended by another three years, since the Ouaré ore can be trucked to the Youga plant which is located 40km away from the deposit.

Work is currently underway to integrate Ouaré resources into the Youga mine plan.

NRI Energy Technology

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