Teranga Gold (TSE: TGZ) has kicked off production at its Wahgnion gold mine in Burkina Faso ahead of schedule, the Canadian miner announced Wednesday.
The mine, which is the company’s second gold operation after Sabodala, in Senegal, began processing ore in August and it is expected to produce between 30,000 and 40,000 ounces for the remainder of 2019.
As a result, Teranga anticipates its 2020 consolidated annual production to increase to between 300,000 and 350,000 ounces.
The news comes as gold prices are at the highest levels in five years. With a 13-year mine life, Wahgnion is expected to help Teranga achieve its growth target of becoming a multi-jurisdictional, mid-tier gold producer.
The Toronto-based miner said that, starting next year, it would embark on a multi-year exploration and drilling program to further optimize the mine plan and extend the new operation’s life.
The current reserve estimate and mine plan include only the four initial deposits on the mine licence.
The focus would be on prospective exploration targets within trucking distance of the plant.
A decade ago, Burkina Faso was better known for the cotton it grows than the gold it mines, but since then a gold rush has transformed it into one of Africa’s hottest destinations for frontier mining.
The country currently is Africa’s fifth gold producer after South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, and Mali. According to official figures, it produced 52.66 tonnes of gold last year, an increase of more than 15% when compared to the 45.8 tonnes it generated in 2017.
Canada has the largest number of foreign gold companies operating in Burkina Faso, including IAMGOLD, SEMAFO and Endeavour Mining.
The nation’s thriving gold mining sector has been recently rattled by a fresh wave of Islamist violence and sporadic outbreaks of inter-ethnic conflict.
On January 11, the parliament voted to extend a state of emergency in several northern provinces, which has been in place since December 31, by six months – following a string of terrorist incidents in several northern provinces.
A few days later, Canadian geologist Kirk Woodman, who was working for Vancouver-based Progress Minerals Inc., was found dead after being abducted by unknown gunmen.
Montreal-based SEMAFO, which has mines in the region, reported several attacks on roads near its operations last year.