Completing two major acquisitions in one calendar year is a significant achievement by any measure but to do so in the midst of a pandemic makes it even more remarkable – which is one of the reasons why we have chosen Endeavour Mining CEO Sebastien de Montessus as our Mining Person of the Year for 2020.
Last March – just as Covid-19 started turning the world upside down – Endeavour announced the friendly acquisition of Semafo in an all-share deal valued at US$716 million – adding two cornerstone mines (Boungou and Mana in Burkina Faso) to its already sizeable portfolio of mining operations in West Africa. The deal made Endeavour not only the largest gold producer in Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso but the largest gold producer in all of West Africa, with more than 1 million oz. of gold production a year.
Endeavour followed that transaction with the announcement in November of the friendly acquisition of Teranga Gold in an all-share deal worth US$2 billion, which added the Sabodala-Massawa complex in Senegal, the Wahgnion mine in Burkina Faso, and two advanced assets—Golden Hill in Burkina Faso and Afema in Côte d’Ivoire. The transaction transformed Endeavour into the largest gold producer in Senegal and a new Top Ten senior gold producer with estimated annual production of 1.5 million oz. of gold across six core mines in three countries. It also meant Endeavour could meet the investment hurdles of larger funds and institutional investors.
“You don’t always decide the timing of those things, but we saw it was the right timing and we were able to do it,” he says in a telephone interview from France. “We now have an amazing portfolio and a very strong position in West Africa and see a lot of organic growth and so I’m extremely happy with these acquisitions in what has been a very challenging year.”
Since de Montessus became Endeavour’s CEO in 2016, the company has built two mines (Hounde in Burkina Faso in 2017 and Ity CIL in Côte d’Ivoire in 2019) – and created one of the largest portfolios in West Africa with 21 million oz. of measured and indicated resources and footholds in two world-class belts: Hounde in Burkina Faso and Ity in Côte d’Ivoire. On the exploration front, Endeavour’s team under his leadership has discovered 8.5 million oz. gold at an average discovery cost to date of about US$12 per oz., which the company says is six times lower than its West African peers.