Bibiani gold mine is located in Western Ghana, 250 kilometres North-West of Accra. The open-pit mine, which was commissioned in 1998, is in the Sefwi-Bibiani belt, host to over 17 million ounces of gold, and the second-most significant gold- bearing belt in Ghana after the Ashanti Belt to the east. The AABL concession is located at approximately 6°27’ latitude north and 2°17’ longitude west. The concession area of approximately 49 km2 is located near the town of Bibiani, approximately 80 kilometres South West of the Ashanti capital, Kumasi. The principal and most practicable access to the area is from the east along the Kumasi road.
Operations began at Bibiani in 1902 with the mine closing in 1913 after approximately 70,000 ounces of gold were recovered. In 1927, mining activities recommenced with the mine developed and operated by foreign investors until it was nationalized in 1958. Post nationalization, the mine was operated by the State Gold Mining Corporation (“SGMC”) until it was again closed in 1968 following the depletion of economic reserves as deemed available at that time. In the late 1980s, GLAMCO and International Gold Resources began to acquire various rights to the old Bibiani mine and undertook exploration that culminated in the delineation of an open-pit resource and ultimately a recommencement of mining operations. The mine was then purchased by Ashanti Goldfields in the mid-1990s.
The Ashanti operations resulted in the production of approximately 1.8 million ounces of gold from the main and satellite pits, bringing total historical gold production from the property to approximately 4 million ounces.
Following the AngloGold and Ashanti merger, the Bibiani mine was sold in 2006 to Central African Gold Ltd, (“CAGL”) a London based company listed on the Alternative Investment Market (“AIM”). CAGL operated the mine for a short period up till January 2009 when Investec, the Project Financier took control of the asset after CAGL experienced operational difficulties with an inappropriate mine plan, low metallurgical recoveries due to lack of process control and poor financial controls all exacerbated by the Global Financial Crisis.
Noble announced on 25 November 2009 its intention to acquire 100% of the CAGL subsidiary, Central African Gold Ghana Ltd (“CAGGL”), the owner of the Bibiani Gold Mine and two contiguous exploration licences. Noble, with assistance from Investec, took management control of the site on 2 December 2009. The Bibiani acquisition includes a 2.7mtpa processing plant and a significant mining fleet. Included in the acquisition is a fully operational mine site with mine workshops, accommodation, a hospital, a school and a fleet of light vehicles.
Following a significant capital raising amongst institutional and retail investors combined with a Share Purchase Plan conducted by Noble during early 2010, shareholder approval was granted for the acquisition to proceed on 26 May 2010. Final settlement of the transfer of the CAGGL shares took place on 27 July 2010.
The terms of the acquisition included:
Controls on gold mineralisation at Bibiani are well understood given the long mining history. Multiple priority exploration targets have also been identified within a 6km radius of the Bibiani Mine by independent assessment of the exploration potential.
A full detailed review of the available geological and historical production data, lead Noble to announcing a maiden JORC Compliant resource statement of Measured, Indicated and Inferred JORC compliant resource for Bibiani of 32.98 million tonnes at a grade of 1.87 g/t for 1,980,000 ounces.
Following a study to confirm optimal exploitation of the Bibiani Mineral Resources, a strategy of both surface and underground mining operations have been planned. An open cut Proved and Probable JORC compliant Ore Reserve estimate for Bibiani Gold Project, Ghana of 8.4 million tonnes at a grade of 2.24 g/t for 605,000 ounces has been delineated. In addition there is the delineated underground resource of 6.53 million tonnes at a grade of 3.62g/t Au containing 760,000 ounces (at a cut-off grade of 2.0g/t).
Life of mine statistics:
The Bibiani Mine acquisition and the successful Capital raising are set to transform Noble from an explorer to a well capitalized emerging gold producer in Ghana, West Africa, with all associated infrastructure required for successful gold production within the near term.
The two Bibiani exploration licences consist of a 105.6km2 tenement package which host several exploration targets outside of the current mine plan.
A $9m drilling programme has been planned over three years with a purchased brand new track mounted multipurpose exploration drill rig.
The main targets initially will be Pamunu Nth & Sth, Asempanye (along strike from Chirano).
In addition there will be a drill out of the existing pits, ie Russell, Walsh, Strauss, Ahiman and Grasshopper. Also investigated will be the Bibinani North potential.
Aerial View of Bibiani