The Youga gold mine is situated 180km south-east of Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso. Initially owned by Endeavour Mining, the mine was sold to Avesoro Jersey (formerly MNG Gold) in February 2016. The mine was then acquired by Avesoro Resources in December 2017.

Commercial gold production at the Youga gold mine started in 2008. The Youga operation consists of mining from several open pits, which include the Youga main pit and its satellite pits that are located within 4km of the main pit.

The life of mine (LOM) of Youga is eight years, according to an upgraded mineral resource and mineral reserve estimate, and an updated LOM plan unveiled in May 2019. The LOM extension activities at Youga are, however, expected to increase the resources and reserves, while extending the life of mine by four more years.

Youga Gold Mine reserves and geology

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

As of May 2019, Youga’s proven and probable mineral reserves are estimated at 14.74Mt containing 814,900oz of gold grading at 1.72g/t.

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 1%).

Gold mining and processing at Youga Gold Mine

The Youga gold mine employs conventional open-pit methods that involve drilling and blasting of hard rocks. The mining fleet includes five hydraulic excavators, 17 haul trucks and three Tamrock blast hole drill rigs.

PW Mining carried out the drilling, blasting and load hauling at the mine until 2015, under a contract with Endeavour. The mine was temporarily suspended after acquisition by Avesoro Resources in December 2017 while operations at the mine resumed in June 2019.

Mining and processing operations at the Youga gold mine is currently managed by Orkun Group, a new mining contractor engaged by Avesoro Resources.

The processing plant comprises of a three-stage crushing and a single-stage ball milling circuit, followed by a gravity section recovering between 25% and 33% of the gravity recoverable gold (GRG) from a portion of the current cyclone underflow recycle stream.

The cyclone underflow feeds a single-stage cyanide leach and five-stage integral carbon-in-leach (CIL) circuit. Loaded carbon is removed from the first CIL tank and gold is recovered in a ‘Zadra’ elution circuit.

Gold is recovered in the Zadra elution circuit by electro-winning and smelting processes to produce doré. The leach tailings are pumped to the tailings management facility (TMF).

The mined ores from the Youga, Netiana and Ouaré deposits will be processed at Youga processing plant over the life of mine plan in proportion of 73%, 3.5% and 23.3% respectively of the proposed mill annual throughput.

Exploration and drilling at Youga mine

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

“The Youga gold mine employs conventional open pit methods that involve drilling and blasting of hard rocks.”

Regional exploration on these permits identified Zerbogo (25km south-west of Youga), Bougré (13km south-west of Youga) and Ouaré (35km to 40km north-east of Youga) as significant target areas.

A preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on the Ouaré deposit was prepared by Endeavour by the end of 2012.

NRI Energy Technology

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