The overall objective of the ML exploration program is to extend the life of mine, at a production rate of approximately 200,000 ounces per year at grades between 1.5 and 2.5 gpt, to the year 2020 to 2025, which would result in a 10 to 15 year mine life since the IPO in 2010.(6) While we had targeted to reach this reserve level by mid-2013, based on our exploration results in 2012 and the plan to drill more of our high potential areas on the ML in 2013, it will likely require at least another year to extend the mine life to at least 2020 and beyond at current production rates.
Sabodala - Main Flat Extension (MFE) / Lower Flat Zone (LFZ)
The Sabodala Pit optimization work completed in the first quarter of 2012, based on the high grade drill results from the fourth quarter of 2011, defined a projected pit shell that included the LFZ at depth. More than 75,000 metres of drilling was completed at Sabodala in 2012 to define this section of the ore body.
Drilling targeted the MFE immediately adjacent to the current ultimate pit, as well as the LFZ located below and to the north of the MFE, confirming the continuation of these zones. The targeted zones are positioned between 250 metres and 450 metres below the surface. The MFE and LFZ remain open down plunge and to the northwest.
The MFE down dip to the SW and SE of the existing open pit operations at Sabodala was also successfully drilled in 2012. These targets range from 60 metres to 250 metres below the surface and are open down dip.
Conversion of a large portion of these resources to reserves will likely require higher gold prices as the orientation of both the MFE and LFZ appear to be more steeply dipping than originally anticipated, negatively affecting the economics of an enlarged pit shell.
Drilling is currently underway from within the pit to test the MFE as it dips to the north and in more shallow areas along the perimeter to the west and east of the current pit. If the mineralization in the extended areas of the known MFE is not sufficient to support the economics of a larger pit, a separate underground analysis will be undertaken in 2013 on the LFZ where a majority of the increase in Measured and Indicated Resources were defined in the September 1, 2012 update.
Waste dump condemnation drilling to the SE of the Sabodala open pit encountered a zone of mineralization within the general trend of the NW Shear projected to the SE near to the base of Sambaya Hill. Drilling late in the year targeted this area and results are pending.
The 2013 drill program for Sabodala is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013. At that time Management will assess the economics of both a larger open pit as well as evaluate an underground development option in the LFZ.
Expectations are to increase reserves and resources in 2013 at Niakafiri. A drill program is planned at the Niakafiri deposit immediately below the current open pit reserve to further delineate mineralization at depth, where the deposit remains open at 200 metres. In addition, drilling will target the area immediately to the north where the remainder of the resource has been defined, and pending positive results, potentially expand the Niakafiri reserves estimate to include this area. Drilling is planned to begin in the second quarter 2013 pending community discussions.
Niakafiri West and Soukhoto
Gold mineralization at Soukhoto and Niakafiri West is hosted in multiple shallow dipping zones with more steeply dipping high-grade zones located in crossing structures. The Soukhoto and Niakafiri West targets are positioned from 30 metres to 200 metres below surface. Niakafiri West remains open to depth.
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