Could Chad become the new African gold frontier?
A UK listed junior exploration company is hoping to switch Chad’s historic focus from black gold to the more traditional metallic variety with ‘potentially nation-building’ projects.
IronRidge Resources (LSE:IRR) took a controlling stake in Tekton Minerals in September 2016 and with it, a flagship gold prospect located within 1400km2 of licences close to Goz Beida in the East of the country. They recently announced highlights of an initial trenching program and rock chip sampling which have yielded results up to 34.1g/t gold.
Previous sampling by Tekton has focussed on the Dorothe licence which contains two significant mineralisation zones, the main zone returning grades up to 63.2g/t Au. Rock chip samples from artisanal workings located within the licences include significant grades of 103g/t.
The company has indicated the potential for several multi-million ounce gold discoveries and together with the exceptionally high grades can draw early comparisons to Klondex Mines’ Fire Creek project located in Nevada, USA, currently holding the title of ‘world’s highest grade gold mine’.
IronRidge’s results appear to fall in line with Fire Creek’s average grade of 45g/t whilst the latter contains an overall resource of approximately 1.6m ounces. If Dorothe can achieve a figure close to this, it will certainly create a stir within the gold mining community.
Exactly how IronRidge’s Chad portfolio measures up to such a comparison will no doubt be watched closely by investors and mining experts alike, especially with a rapidly declining multi-million ounce discovery rate throughout the industry.
Gold deposits with grades above 10g/t constitute less than 5% of the world’s known deposits and 60% of all deposits are actually below 3g/t. The economics in high grade gold mining are vastly different with huge advantages in capital requirements and operating costs comparted to their low grade counterparts.
Landlocked Chad’s historic oil focus has meant very little modern-day gold exploration whereas its neighbours have benefitted from a thriving mining industry. Over 40% of Niger’s exports are mining dependent. To the west, Burkina Faso is Africa’s 4th biggest gold producer.
By Nick Black