What was until recently characterized as “a strong gold geochemical anomaly” at the Siribaya gold project in Mali is now “a significant new gold discovery with multiple zones of gold mineralization,” according to joint-venture partners Merrex Gold (TSXV: MXI; US-OTC: MXGIF) and Iamgold (TSX: IMG; NYSE: IAG).
Eighty percent — or 41 of the 52 reverse-circulation (RC) drill holes (5,200 metres) completed at the Diakha anomaly so far this year — have returned significant gold assays, and most of the holes were only drilled to a 100-metre depth.
Highlights include 34 metres of 3.22 grams gold per tonne and 16 metres of 2.06 grams gold per tonne in hole 445; 30 metres of 2.58 grams gold in hole 429; 26 metres of 3.03 grams gold in hole 421; and 10 metres of 3.88 grams gold in hole 441.
Diakha is situated in the western part of the 910 sq. km Siribaya exploration concession, a few kilometres south along strike from Iamgold’s Boto gold discovery in Senegal and the Fekola deposit that B2Gold (TSX: BTO; NYSE-MKT: BTG) recently acquired by merging with Australia’s Papillon Resources.
John Cumming, Merrex’s executive vice-president and chief financial officer, says that while this part of Western Mali has flown under the radar a little bit, news of the Diakha discovery, along with developments at Boto and the Fekola acquisition, suggest that “there’s something pretty exciting going on there.”
Iamgold closed an option agreement in December 2008 with Merrex to earn a 50% interest in the project, and Iamgold completed its expenditure commitments at the end of December 2011. This year the partners have budgeted US$2.1 million for exploration, and Merrex’s share of the bill is due in December.
The objective is to test targets identified by geochemical termite sampling, such as Diakha, with an emphasis on the western permit area of Kambaya, while the junior refines and prioritizes eastern targets such as Kofia and Diarinidi.
“There is more drilling yet to come,” Cumming says, noting that Iamgold as operator is drilling now and will continue to do so until the seasonal rains begin, and resume once the rains let up.
Iamgold has stockpiled sufficient fuel for the drill rigs so that they can resume drilling once the ground firms up, without waiting for the rivers to recede to get the fuel tankers in. The drill program will consist of RC and diamond drilling at Diakha, as well as AirCore drilling and mechanized auger drilling in the eastern permit areas.
Cumming notes that Merrex initially acquired Siribaya’s 910 sq. km land package in 2005, and describes it as the largest contiguous gold exploration land package in Mali. “I don’t think we could have assembled a land package of this magnitude in the gold belt of Mali today,” he says, explaining that while it was competitive finding ground in West Africa in 2005, it has become even more so today.
The Siribaya project has an indicated resource of 4.1 million tonnes grading 2.34 grams gold per tonne for 303,900 contained oz. gold and an inferred resource of 4.32 million tonnes grading 2.17 grams gold for 301,400 contained oz. gold. The resource estimate was calculated using a cut-off grade of 0.5 gram gold per tonne.
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