Block 14 gold project in Sudan. (Image courtesy of Orca Gold.)
Perseus Mining (ASX, TSX: PRU) has struck a deal to acquire a 15% stake in Canadian junior Orca Gold (TSX: ORG) from Resolute Mining (ASX: RSG), which will give the Australian gold producer stakes in two promising assets in North and West Africa.
With the move Perseus is securing an interest in Orca’s 70%-owned Block 14 gold project in northern Sudan and a 31.5% stake in Montage Gold (TSX-V: MAU), which has the Kone gold project in northern Côte d’Ivoire.
Perseus will provide Orca with a $5 million short-term loan facility for exploration of the and development of the Block 14 gold project. The debt facility is due to be repaid at the end of June, with interest charged at a rate of 7.5% a year.
The company revealed it has been in talks with Orca to potentially acquire all of the junior’s outstanding securities. These negotiations are ongoing, Perseus said.
Block 14 is an open cut gold project with the potential to produce 200,000-300,000 ounces annually during its13.6-year mine-life.
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Given Perseus’ interest and history in Côte d’Ivoire, it seems the company’s main target is the Kone project, located about 350 km north-west of Yamoussoukro, the country’s political capital.
Scoping work at the asset has shown its potential as a 15-year, 200,000 plus ounces per year operation, which is expected to churn out more than 300,000 gold ounces per annum during its second and third year of production.
Perseus has recently achieved an annualized gold production rate of 500,000 ounces of gold per year from its three existing operating mines: Edikan in Ghana, and Sissingué and Yaouré in Côte d’Ivoire.
The miner’s CEO and managing director Jeff Quartermaine noted that while Perseus expects to be able to maintain this level of production based on exploration success around its existing gold mines, it is always seeking to identify value accretive inorganic growth opportunities.
“We believe that Orca could represent such an opportunity,” Quartermaine said.
Resolute Mining, in turn, said that the C$0.44-a-share sale was part of its strategic focus on core operating assets, adding it would help to strengthen its balance sheet.