Gold miner and lithium developer Firefinch has started open-pit operations at the Morila gold mine in Mali.

The firm kicked off operations at the mining area Morila Pit 5, which is located on the western margin of the Morila Super Pit.

As part of the project, Malian contractor EGTF has been selected to complete all mining preparatory works. It has mobilised a new 100t class fleet at the mine.

Nearly 100,000t of ore from Morila Pit 5 have already been hauled to the run of mine (RoM) stockpiles.

Firefinch managing director Michael Anderson said: “The location of Pit 5 right next to our operating processing plant, combined with recent drilling results that enhanced economics, made it a compelling opportunity to fast-track the first production before we commence mining at our other satellite deposits.

“Importantly all the work has been undertaken safely, and it is very pleasing to have engaged the Malian owned and operated contractor EGTF, to resume mining at Morila Pit 5.

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By GlobalData

“Having taken these first steps, we of course remain very focussed on the main prize – bringing the Morila Super Pit back into operation.”

According to the estimates, the Morila Pit 5 contains an indicated and inferred mineral resource of 840,000t at 1.1g/t. However, the ore reserve estimate for the mining area has not been declared.

The Morila gold mine in the Sikasso Region of Mali poured its first gold in 2000.

Although operations were suspended at the mine in 2019, the ore stockpiles continued to be processed, with 27,000oz of gold produced in the same year.

Firefinch owns a stake of 80% in the Morila gold mine while the remainder is owned Mali Government.

Last year, the company achieved the first gold pour at the mine under its ownership following its stake acquisition from AngloGold Ashanti and Barrick Gold.