Vancouver-based Awalé Resources (TSXV: ARIC) has intercepted near-surface, high-grade gold at its Empire prospect, part of its 90%-owned Odienné project in northwestern Côte d’Ivoire, close to the country’s borders with Mali and Guinea.
ANGET-CI, a local company, holds the other 10%.
The company kicked off a 3,000-metre drill program at Odienné with 2,500 metres drilled at Empire in October. Recently, Awalé released results from three drill holes that the company says surpassed expectations, finding high-grade intervals and visible gold in unweathered rock.
All three holes intercepted coarse, fine-grained free gold, with the first two holes returning high-grade intercepts. Assays from the third hole are pending.
Hole 1 returned 4.9 grams gold per tonne over 18 metres, including 7.9 grams gold over 10 metres, from 40 metres downhole, and hole 2 intercepted 3.1 grams gold over 27 metres, including 5.3 grams gold over 9 metres, from 43 metres downhole.
The two holes, which tested the core area of the Empire prospect, contained visible gold in extensional quartz veins hosted within a brittle ductile deformation zone in a diorite body that intruded a preexisting west- to northwest-trending, mylonite-bearing structure. All reported intervals occur beneath the oxidation zone and within sulphide-bearing vein assemblages.
The third hole, drilled 80 metres downdip of the first two holes, cut a similar gold-bearing brittle ductile zone. Assays for the hole are pending.
“It is still early days in the drilling, but our team — led by Andrew Chubb, chief operating officer — is confident we are onto a large altered system with strong fluid flow,” Glen Parsons, the company’s CEO, says of the Empire prospect in an interview with The Northern Miner.
Parsons says the company’s systematic exploration methods over the last year have given the team confidence in the geology and potential of the high-priority Empire prospect, and early drill results appear to confirm Awalé’s mineralization models.
Step-out holes are being drilled east of the first three holes.
“It is a 3 km soil anomaly and we are only drilling 500 metres of it at the moment,” Parsons says.
The company aims to find at least 1 million oz. at Odienné, he says, so that options become available — such as finding a joint-venture partner for the project, or attracting interest as a takeover target. “We are active explorers who have been successful in the past and have no ambition of becoming miners,” Parsons says.
The CEO notes that Côte d’Ivoire is underexplored when compared to other countries in West Africa such as Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, and describes the country as a “good jurisdiction.”
“We are an up-and-coming region,” he continues, noting the government strongly supports development of the industry.
“The ministry is extremely positive toward miners and wants to progress mining,” he says. “They know they have been sitting behind Ghana, Burkina and Mali, and are certainly encouraging investment.”
Awalé’s other projects include Bondoukou in northwestern Côte d’Ivoire and Abengourou in the Comoé region in the eastern part of the country.
Bondoukou, its flagship asset, spans 1,190 square kilometres. In July, the company announced results from the other five trenches of a 10-trench, 883-metre program at Bondoukou’s Fako prospect, which delineated a mineralized system similar to the previously defined Locality A.
Highlights include Trench 5, which returned 21 metres grading 2 grams gold, including 1 metre grading 11.5 grams gold from 36 metres, and 1-metre intercepts grading 5.5 grams gold from 43 metres and 5.4 grams gold from 45 metres.
Trench 3 returned one-metre intercepts grading 10.5 grams gold from 63 metres, 11.5 grams gold from 65 metres and 4.8 grams gold from 73 metres.
In September, the company raised $1.7 million through a non-brokered private placement of 19.2 million common shares at 9¢ apiece. The proceeds will help exploration at Odienné and Bondoukou, as well as cover general overhead and operating expenses.
Awalé’s assets originally belonged to Mariana Resources. But after Sandstorm Gold (TSX: SSL; NYSE-AM: SAND) acquired Mariana in July 2017, the company spun the company out into Awalé, which listed in December 2017. Most of Awalé’s team, like Parsons, came from Mariana. Parsons served as Mariana’s CEO from 2010 to 2017.
“Sandstorm are not explorers and early operational exploration assets don’t make sense,” Parsons says. “When they purchased us we agreed to spin these out.”
The company’s shareholders include Sandstorm Gold (17.21%) and Capital Drilling (12.18%).
At press time, Awalé’s shares traded at 19¢ apiece in a 52-week range of 6¢ to 26¢. The company has 68.4 million shares outstanding for a $13.7-million market capitalization.