Firefinch Ltd (ASX:FFX) (OTCMKTS:EEYMF) (FRA:N9F) says ‘Morila the Gorilla is back’ with a new mineral resource estimate of 42.6 million tonnes at 1.6 g/t gold for 2.2 million contained ounces, up from 1.2 g/t gold for 1.3 million ounces. 

The bulk of resource in Mali is open pittable, with a portion of underground resource with intercepts including 14 metres at 21.7 g/t gold and 6 metres at 9.0 g/t at Morila northeast; 5 metres at 31.5 g/t, 17 metres at 4.9 g/t and 35 metres at 3.0 g/t at Samacline.

Shares have been as much as 15% higher in early trading to A$0.225 while the company’s market cap is approximately A$152.5 million.

‘Morila the Gorilla is back’

Firefinch executive chairman Dr Alistair Cowden said: “Morila was one of the best mines in the world 15 to 20 years ago due to the large scale of production, its low costs and its very high grades.

“Randgold termed it ‘Morila the Gorilla’ – a big and impressive mine! This resource estimate certainly surprised and shows that Morila the Gorilla is back!

“The mine has produced 7.5 million ounces of gold to date and, with resources of almost 2.4 million ounces, Morila is now a 10 million ounce goldfield.

“Morila is 80%-owned by Firefinch and has been in production continuously since the processing plant was commissioned in October 2000.

“The size of the resource places Morila among the larger goldfields held by ASX-listed gold companies and it is particularly pleasing that this has been achieved without drilling a hole at Morila.

“We are very excited with the drilling underway at Morila, three drill rigs are turning at satellite pits and after this, we will turn to Morila itself to verify the inferred resources that have been identified and bring these to higher classifications to facilitate ore reserve estimation and then seek repeats of the ultra-high grades that the mine is famous for.”

Key estimate points

Key takeaways from the mineral resource estimate include:

  • Over 1 million ounces are in the indicated category and are therefore available for ore reserve estimation. These studies are underway and will inform a life of mine plan;
  • The resource grade has increased, improving economics with potential for substantial production from delivering ore with an average head grade of 1.3 to 1.5 g/t gold to the Morila plant;
  • The size of the open pit resource indicates that there is clear potential to develop a large Morila superpit, much drilling of the footprint of that pit remains to be completed. The resource will also permit the full utilisation of existing infrastructure at Morila, including a plant with a nameplate throughput of 4.5 million tonnes per annum. A study on the superpit will commence shortly; and
  • There is also the opportunity for underground mining in the medium term at Morila north-east and Samacline. Both areas are not fully defined.

Global resources for entire project

Mineral resources have also been recently estimated for the satellite pits at N’Tiola, Viper and Domba, where drilling is in progress and associated resource upgrades are pending.

Further, drilling and resource estimates are in progress at the Koting discovery and the Pit 5 area, adjacent to the Morila pit.

Together with the tailings resource, the satellite pits contribute to a global resource for the Morila project of 2.35 million ounces in measured, indicated and inferred mineral resources of 48.3 million tonnes at 1.52 g/t gold.

These resource estimates will be continually updated over the coming months as new drilling results become available.

Next steps

Firefinch is tackling Morila in a logical and systematic manner, with a plan well underway to define near-term feed to the plant, refurbish the plant and tailings dam, build resources and reserves and then define an initial mine plan that details production and costs.

Further drilling is required at Morila’s satellites – Koting, N’Tiola, Viper, Domba and Pit 5. Drilling will rotate continuously through the deposits, with the order of drilling determined by production priorities.

Further drilling is also required at Morila to test extensions to mineralisation, as well as infill to verify the resource.

As drill and assay results become available, new resource estimates will be generated for all the potential satellite ore sources and based on these estimates, ore reserve estimates will be generated.

An ore reserve estimate will be generated for the main Morila pit utilising the new resource estimate.

As reserve estimates become available, mine designs and plans will be created.

The initial focus is on satellite pits and obtaining a high degree of confidence to allow the restart of open pit mining and milling by mid-year 2021.

De-watering is already underway at the satellite pits.

A life-of-mine plan will be developed once an initial ore reserve is available for the Morila pit.