West-Africa focused gold producer Endeavour Mining is to increase its interest in the Ity mine from 55% to 80% after signing a price agreement with the Ivory Coast Government.
A previously announced in-principal agreement for the state-owned mining company SODEMI to sell a 25% shareholding in the Ity mine to Endeavour was approved by the government.
Under the deal, Endeavour Mining will make a one-off payment of $52m to be followed $5 per ounce of additional reserves added post 31 December last year.
Endeavour president and CEO Sébastien de Montessus said: "This is an important step in continuing to develop our internal growth strategy as Ity has the potential to become one of our flagship assets, in addition to Houndé which is on schedule for a first gold pour in the fourth quarter.
“We now look forward to moving to a formal investment decision in the coming weeks which would allow our experienced in-house construction team to smoothly transition from Houndé to building the Ity CIL project in the second half of 2017.
“We are currently optimizing last year's published feasibility study, which will most likely result in upsizing the previously announced 3Mtpa plant design to better capture the value generated from recent exploration discoveries and to take into account the area's significant additional exploration potential."
A feasibility study submitted last year indicated that Ity's mine life can be extended by 14 years by upgrading the heap leach facility to a carbon-in-leach (CIL) plant.
The study demonstrated that with the upgrade, around 144,000oz can be produced annually for at least the first nine years.