Canada’s Endeavour Mining (TSX:EDV) (OTCQX:EDVMF) has increased its stake in its Ity gold mine in Ivory Coast to 85% from 80% by buying shares in the operation from a local company owned by a former soccer star.
DYD International Holdings was founded by Didier Drogba, an ex Chelsea Football Club striker who also represented Ivory Coast’s national team, received about one million shares in Endeavour Mining for a total of $15 million (CAD$20 million), based on a share price in the Toronto-listed firm of C$18.50 per share.
The deal, closed on Thursday, leaves Endeavour Mining with a majority stake in Ity gold mine, with the Government of Ivory Coast having a 10% and Sodemi (a state-run mining company) owning the remaining 5%.
In 2017, the gold producer approved a $412-million upgrade project for Ity, which will extend the mine’s life by 14 years, based on current reserves of 2.9 million ounces, up by one million ounces since the latest feasibility study.
The first gold pour from the mine is anticipated to occur in early spring, as the project is tracking two months ahead of schedule, the company said in a previous statement.
Endeavour also has another mine in the country — Agbaou. In 2017, that operation and Ity mine yielded a combined 236,000 ounces of gold, and that figure is expected to be between 200,000 and 215,000 ounces for 2018.
Endeavour has expanded its portfolio in recent years and it now has seven mines and projects in African countries, including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso.
The miner anticipates a combined output of between 670,000 and 720,000 ounces of gold for 2018.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, aims to increase gold production to diversify its economy. In 2017, the country produced around 25 tonnes of gold.