Australia-based exploration and development firm Gryphon Minerals said an optimisation study has identified a low-cost heap leach start-up for Banfora gold project in Burkina Faso.

The company said the two million tonnes a year heap leach development may require a capital investment of around $79m and will deliver about 71,000oz of gold per year, over a life of 8.7 years.

The heap leach option will have a net present value of $154m, discounted at 5%, and an internal rate of return of 39%.

Gryphon has $48m in cash and investments, which will cover a major portion of the funding for the project’s development.

The company has started financing negotiations with several international banks and expects to award a mandate to financiers by the end of the first quarter of this year.

Gryphon Minerals managing director Steve Parsons said the results show that the Banfora gold project is resilient in a low gold price environment and has robust economics from either heap leach or carbon in leach development options.

"The heap leach development route will give the company leverage to any potential increase in the gold price by easy and low-cost expandability through cashflow, with additional heap leach or CIL plant capacity at a later date," Parsons said.

"The company is progressing financing arrangements with major lenders as well as the completion of feasibility studies and mine permitting, which will allow for a clear path forward for the commencement of early site works followed by development and construction soon after."

The Burkina Faso Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development awarded the environment permit for the development of the project in January.

Gryphon said it remains firmly on track in the final stage of the mine permitting process and expects the mining licence to be secured before the end of the March.

A final presentation to the National Commission of Mines is scheduled to take place during March of this year, where it is expected that the Burkina Faso Government will approve the project and grant the formal mining licence.

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