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'[Semafo is] evaluating a variety of options to restart operations at Boungou'

Canada-based miner Semafo (TSX: SMF) said yesterday it did not expect its closed Boungou gold mine in Burkina Faso to restart this year.
'[Semafo is] evaluating a variety of options to restart operations at Boungou' '[Semafo is] evaluating a variety of options to restart operations at Boungou' '[Semafo is] evaluating a variety of options to restart operations at Boungou' '[Semafo is] evaluating a variety of options to restart operations at Boungou' '[Semafo is] evaluating a variety of options to restart operations at Boungou'

Semafo’s Boungou mine in Burkina Faso is unlikely to restart this year

Staff reporter

Almost a month has passed since the attack on a convoy headed to the company's flagship mine in the country's east, with Semafo saying in November there had been 39 fatalities, 60 injured, 141 people accounted for and one unaccounted for.

"We are evaluating a variety of options to restart operations at Boungou in a safe and secure manner," president and CEO Benoit Desormeaux said.

"Although many of the aspects of a restart plan are within our control, there are other aspects for which we need support from the government and from our existing suppliers."

ASX-listed mining and drilling contractor Perenti yesterday called force majeure on the contract its African Mining Services subsidiary had at Boungou and also said it was exiting AMS' contract at Nordgold's Bissa mine in the country's north.

AMS said it was in discussions with Semafo regarding the force majeure event and would work with Semafo to end the contract, should the force majeure conditions continue.

"We have decided to take steps to move towards ceasing operations in Burkina Faso's higher risk locations given the current security situation," Perenti managing director Mark Norwell had said.

Desormeaux said Semafo was looking at scenarios to limit using the public road, such as transporting people by air from Fada to Boungou, but the company estimated it would take a further three months to complete the airstrip at the mine once activities restarted.

He said additional security were on site with the small number of personnel remaining and the processing plant was being managed to allow for a smooth restart "when possible", with some gold in circuit to be recovered for a last shipment in December.

One restart option being evaluated was a phased plan starting by processing a 1.1 million tonne stockpile with an estimated grade of 3.4g/t gold, which would provide about 10 months of feed for the mill, with mining to restart in phase two.

"We are currently in discussions with our mining contractor, African Mining Services, in relation to phase two including for a seamless transition should AMS not return to Boungou," Semafo said.

The company said its Mana mine in Burkina Faso was continuing in line with guidance, albeit with increased security, and the Siou underground development was continuing with full production expected in March 2020.

It had US$77.7 million in cash at September 30 and restricted cash of $15 for payment of a $75 million credit facility.

"The credit facility has various standard events of default, and we are in discussions with the lender to address them," Semafo said.

Its shares lost a third of their value in the week following the attack, dropping from C$3.95 to $2.63.

They closed up 1c yesterday to $2.80, capitalising the company at $936.5 million (US$703.9 million).