Roscan Gold accelerates drill program; land acquisitions and executive appointments

Since the beginning of the year, Roscan Gold (TSXV: ROS; US-OTC: RCGCF) has enlarged its land package around its Kandiole project in western Mali from about 250 sq. km to a little over 400 sq. km; completed over 30,000 metres of drilling; and says it’s on track and fully funded to undertake a total of at least 100,000 metres during the course of the full 12 months.

“It will be a newsy year because we’re drilling through the rainy season,” says Nana Sangmuah, the company’s president and CEO. “We were the first to do that in Mali last year and so we should be doing more drilling culminating in a resource estimate in the fourth quarter then commencing engineering studies.”

The news flow in the first four months of the year has included Roscan’s appointment two months ago of Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, the former CEO of AngloGold Ashanti, to its board of directors. Venkatakrishnan also served as the CEO of Vedanta Resources, the world’s six largest natural resources group, from 2018 to 2020.

The junior exploration company already had a number of heavyweight players on its team, including non-executive chairman Sir Samuel Jonah, the former CEO of Ashanti Goldfields and executive president of AngloGold Ashanti; executive vice-chairman Greg Isenor, the former president and CEO of Merrex Gold until its acquisition by Iamgold in 2017; and technical advisor David Reading, the former CEO of European Goldfields and Aureus Mining, who also worked as general manager of African exploration in the early days of Randgold Resources.

“These kind of accomplished people have been able to run large operations, bigger development operations, and build smaller mines as well,” says Sangmuah, “so we can keep our destiny in our own hands, with a preproduction re-rating ultimately, which will add value along the way, so we’re in a unique situation; we no longer have to be at the mercy of people who have signed CAs [confidentiality agreements] with us. We can take value creation a further step.”

Roscan’s Kandiole project, about 400 km west of the West African nation’s capital, Bamako, lies about 25 km east of B2Gold’s (TSX: BTO; NYSE-AM: BTG) producing Fekola mine, and is within trucking distance of Iamgold’s (TSX: IMG; NYSE: IAG) Boto and Diakha deposits.

Other major gold deposits within 80 km of Kandiole include Barrick’s (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) Loulo and Gounkoto; Iamgold and AngloGold’s Sadiola; and privately held BCM’s Tabakoto and Segala.

Last year, Roscan reported three new discoveries: Kandiole North, about 10 km from its flagship Mankouke South target; Mousalla North, about 8 km northeast of Kandiole North; and Walia, about 15 km from Kandiole North.

This year Roscan announced its first acquisition in January, when it acquired Mankouke West, a strategic parcel of land on the western boundary of its Mankouke permit. The additional 16 sq. km was important to nail down, according to the company, because it captures the western offset of the magnetic structure associated with Mankouke South and the structure extends for 22 km towards the northeast and into the company’s Kabaya target.

“The Mankouke West permit was actually very critical because we recognized that as we chased the Mankouke South discovery to the north, there was a sinestral offset that got off into the western part of the permit and it looked like it was trending into that ground and the geophysics we completed put it out very clearly that it’s a magnetic signature on that piece of ground,” Sangmuah explains. “We had been agitating for that ground because it was a critical piece of what we’re building on Mankouke South and we got permits to start drilling and we’ve started drilling on that structure so we think we should be able to continue the Mankouke South discovery further to the north along the trend, and that trend actually goes into our second most advanced target, about 22 km north, and so we’ve consolidated quite a bit of that structure.”

That acquisition was followed in February with news that the company had picked up a new permit called Segondo West. The permit brought an additional 42 sq. km to the Kandiole project and the new ground sits immediately to  the northwest of Roscan’s Walia and Moussala discoveries.

In early April, Roscan acquired an additional 55 sq. km called Bantanko East to the immediate west of Segondo West. “Bantanko East has a second order splay structure off the main SMSZ first order structure that presents another exposure to another first order structure in addition to the SMKS, where the company has made six discoveries in 14 months,” he says, noting that SMSZ stands for the Senegal Mali Shear Zone and SMKS the Siribaya Mankouke Kabaya Seko corridor.

“Bantanko East brings the total number to three new acquisitions this year that have boosted our land package to a little over 400 sq. km in that region,” says Sangmuah, a mining engineer, who before joining Roscan was the managing director of equity research for metals and mining at Clarus Securities.  

The company has also released a stream of drill results over the last four months. In January, Roscan reported results of diamond and RC drilling at its Kabaya target, with highlights of 10.6 grams gold per tonne over 3 metres starting from 84.6 metres in drillhole20-003, including 24.6 grams gold over 1 metre from 84.6 metres; and 3.09 grams gold over 9.3 metres from surface in drillhole 20-015; and 2.96 grams gold over 30 metres fro surface in drillhole 20-008, including 11.7 grams gold over 2 metres from 26 metres downhole.

In March, Roscan discovered a new high-grade zone 150 metres west of its flagship Mankouke South target. Drill hole 21-89 returned 24 metres of 4.78 grams gold per tonne starting from 7.5 metres below surface, including 32.9 grams gold over 2 metres.

The company said the new discovery zone appears to outline another parallel system to Mankouke South and highlights the potential to expand the resource footprint to the west. It also noted that the new discovery area “lies directly on trend to the strong geomagnetic signature of Mankouke West, our KN1 discovery area and Kabaya, further to the northeast,” and noted the discovery “reinforces the importance of our recent acquisition of the Mankouke West land package, which will be the core focus of our 2021 target prioritization work.”

For Sangmuah and his team, their progress all boils down to hard work and a little luck.

“It’s all about keeping our heads down and working, working, working,” he says. “The bottom line is we have leveraged upon the local talent, that facilitates the campaign quite easily and seamlessly, and established good relationships with government and permitting authorities, so getting stuff done is relatively seamless, and we’ve actually built in enough brain trust—guys that have gotten tonnes of experience in that part of the world [and] geologists — to join forces with our team to give direction to us because they learned what to do and what not to do in previous projects. And that gives us a competitive advantage and has shown in the record of discoveries, which has been about six over the past 14 months.”

“But we can’t take all the glory,” he adds. “We have been lucky to be blessed with good ground, which  has yielded Tier One discoveries, and we’re trying to get as much ground exposure in that part of the world as we can.”

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