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Avesoro regains control of Burkina Faso gold mine after security breach

The Youga gold mine in Burkina Faso. (Image courtesy of Avesoro Resources)

West Africa-focused gold miner Avesoro Resources (TSX, AIM:ASO) has regained control of its Youga gold mine in Burkina Faso after being forced to halt operations last week.

The company’s decision was a precautionary measure, after a group of armed artisanal miners broke into the facilities, attempting to steal ore from the mine’s stockpile on August 8. One of the intruders was killed by a security guard.

The Youga mine is in the southern Boulgou province, 180 km southeast of Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou.

Youga has a measured and indicated resource of 16.64 million tonnes grading 1.73 g/t gold for 924,200 contained ounces of the metal. The mine produced 110,751 ounces in 2018.

Avesoro had halted operations last week as a precautionary measure after armed artisanal miners attempted to steal ore from Youga mine’s stockpile

Avesoro acquired the operation, along with its Balogo gold mine, in December 2017. The licence contains seven open-pit deposits and a 1.1 million tonne per year carbon-in-leach processing facility.

Last month, the company said it would outsource the asset’s operation to Orkun Group Sarl, which was expected to boost Youga’s production and reduce costs in the second half of the year.

The miner, which has a track record of not only successfully building low cost mining operations, but also turning around non-performing assets, has experienced rapid growth to date.

Avesoro’s plan is to become a larger 500,000-ounces gold producer in the next two to three years, and it intends to achieve this goal through a combination of organic and inorganic growth — mergers or acquisitions.

The junior, however, recently had to cut annual output guidance for both the Youga and New Liberty mines by 30,000 ounces because of operational challenges experienced earlier in the year.

The company, which also owns the Batouri asset in Cameroon and Balogo in Burkina Faso, is currently progressing a prefeasibility study (PFS) for an underground extension at New Liberty. The report is expected to include the first open-pit reserves from the Ndablama satellite deposit and is set to be concluded towards the end of the first quarter.

Avesoro said that government security forces currently remain on at the Youga mine in order to protect the company’s assets.