Exploration company West African Resources has poured first gold at its Sanbrado project in Burkina Faso, West Africa.

The first smelt exercise at the mine delivered gold bars weighing 23.9kg.

West African completed construction and commissioning activities in all areas, passing three million working hours without a lost time injury (LTI).

It has processed 75,000 tonnes of ore grading 1.5 grams per tonne (g/t) of gold through the Sanbrado plant, exceeding nameplate capacity in mill throughput.

West African executive chairman Richard Hyde said: “This is a major milestone for West African Resources and marks the beginning of a new phase in the West African story. To successfully transition from an exploration company to a gold producer is without doubt a great achievement for all involved.

“I would like to thank West African’s owners’ team and all consultants, contractors and other stakeholders for their hard work and support over the last four years to bring Sanbrado from discovery into production.”

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The company noted that open pit mining at Sanbrado has scaled up activity at both the M5 and M1 South pits.

Around 1,200 tonnes of underground ore has been readily mined and stockpiled for processing, while 250,000 tonnes of ore awaits processing on the run-of-mine (ROM) pad.

West African has confirmed that none of its employees or contractors have so far been affected by the Covid-19 virus.

The company’s executive and site management have recently undertaken a coronavirus (Covid-19) risk assessment workshop at Sanbrado site.

In May 2018, WAF announced to raise A$35m ($26.37m) through a placement of shares in order to secure funding for planned pre-development activities at the Sanbrado gold project.

In March 2017, the company reported high-grade diamond drilling results from the M5 prospect at Sanbrado project.