Since TSXV-listed explorer Roscan Gold was featured in RGN magazine around a year ago, the West Africa-focused company has added more ground to its highly prospective land package in Western Mali and continued to enlarge drilling programmes across the 401.8 km2 expanse, focusing primarily on the well-established targets that will contribute to an upcoming maiden mineral resource for the Kandiolé Project. Kandiolé, which is sandwiched between two of the largest gold assets in Africa (B2Gold’s Fekola mine and Barrick’s Loulo-Gounkoto complex) in a 50+ million ounces (Moz) gold camp, is now comprised of seven prolific gold discoveries which have returned some of the best drill intercepts in West Africa. According to Roscan’s CEO and president Nana Sangmuah: “It’s probably one of the most highly prospective areas that I have come across in my career, and the great endowment of our resources is testament to how very frequent we come up with the discoveries.” “It’s an embarrassment of riches and quite frankly it’s been a challenge for us to decide which areas to prioritise with our drilling in order to build significant resources from what has been discovered here,” he tells RGN’s editor.
The addition of the Segondo West and Bantanko East permits resembles a shrewd move by Roscan as it builds one of the most comprehensive land packages within the Senegal-Mali Shear Zone (SMSZ). In particular, Bantanko East looks an interesting prospect given it’s just 1.6 km away from the Fekola mine and aeromagnetic geophysics have revealed a second order splay running through the property.
However, Roscan’s main focus of late has been on growing the potential deposits that have already been advanced to resource definition. These include the Mankouke, Kabaya and Kandiolé areas of the project.
“We have been focusing on these resource target areas because we want to get an interim resource out before the second half of the year, so we can showcase to the market that we clearly have a standalone project that can support a mining operation,” Sangmuah explains.
Roscan’s boss stresses that the maiden resource estimate will be a snapshot in time and not a representation of what the entire system can provide, in terms of ounces. But, the company has been consistent in saying that the first resource update will come in within the 1-2 Moz range at least.
“Beyond that, we should be able to update the market with further drilling results from the wider region, including at newer targets like Disse which has already returned some good mineralisation hits.”
Disse – one of five new discoveries outside the two main resource target areas (Mankouke South and Kabaya) – appears to be an extension of mineralisation reported in a neighbouring property held by ASX-listed Oklo Resources, after RC holes returned steeply dipping mineralisation over 135 metres of strike, including one 7.29 g/t gold hit over six metres from 117 metres.
Just to the West of the Disse target is Moussala North, an 8 km trend from the Kandiolé North discovery which has shown high-grade mineralisation from surface down to 120 metres in fresh rock. Another regional discovery is due North at Walia, which runs along 1.5 km of strike. Then there is Mankouke West, which consolidates 15 km of strike in a magnetic corridor 150 metres West of the initial Mankouke South (MS1) discovery.
One thing that became clear during initial drilling at Mankouke West (MS2) was the potential mineralisation at depth that was not lighting up on surface, according to Sangmuah. “The AC wasn’t picking up these zones but with deeper drilling we chanced on some of these higher grade shoots which has opened up another wave of opportunities with these plunging shoots indicating further mineralisation at depth.”
The depth potential at MS2 will remain a focus for the Roscan exploration team, as well as potential linkages between MS1 and another North trending target labelled MS3, which continues to extend Southwards towards MS1. Follow-up drilling has been completed with results pending, along with additional holes to explore the possibility of a shared system linked to the main MS1.
“I think we are beginning to connect the dots across our land package. Being able to pick up these anomalies and the alteration patterns is helping us home in on what is very exciting and what has more legs to run, particularly at depth, which has been further crystallised with the completion of our geophysical surveys. Now it’s about moving these targets into a prioritisation scale.”
With regards to ranking the discoveries by order of priority, potential scale and grade are key factors for Roscan. The company is planning to build a central processing facility, so targets with significant scale and good grades will receive greater priority, as it looks to build the scope for a mine. Access will also play a part in prioritisation, particularly during the rainy season when certain targets can become difficult to reach.
Poised and ready
Going back to the imminent maiden resource milestone for the Kandiolé Project, Sangmuah thinks Roscan is extremely well positioned to bring that news to the market, considering the scale that the explorer has already built across the resource area.
“A lot of junior resource companies spend most of their time and money trying to convince investors that they could one day build a mine. There’s no doubt in my mind that we have a mine here. Our aim now is to move this forward into the development phase, taking advantage of investment flowing into the gold sector.”
Macroeconomic conditions throughout 2022 have provided strong tailwinds for the gold sector, with inflationary pressures and uncertainty amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict supporting the gold price and larger gold equities. This higher price environment will likely encourage those major producers to churn out more ounces while they can, which should eventually lead them to explorers with advanced discoveries, such as Roscan.
And so, being positioned between a collection of Tier 1 gold mines along the SMSZ will only increase Roscan’s attractiveness to its operating neighbours in need of reserve replenishment further down the line.
“Exploration has been lacklustre in the sector for a long period of time, so frankly there aren’t too many advanced discoveries out there,” Sangmuah posits. “We have a plethora of targets that should excite investors and majors. Thankfully we have a team that is going to continue pushing to advance these targets and that makes Roscan a very attractive proposition.”
Leaning on experience
Roscan’s management team was constructed only two years ago, with Sangmuah, Gregory Isenor, Michael Gentile and Sir Samuel Jonah occupying key positions within the board of directors. The team’s combined experience spanning all stages of the mine development cycle more than makes up for the relatively short time they have spent together. Furthermore, the company is on the lookout for further additions that can help it move through the discovery sweet spot phase and into the development stage.
It would be no exaggeration to suggest that this management team has faced a baptism of fire throughout the last two years. First, COVID-19 threw up an unprecedented number of challenges on the ground, but Roscan’s guiding principle was to protect all stakeholders to the best of its ability throughout the depths of the pandemic. This meant implementing strict on-site protocols to prevent the spread of the illness and the procurement and distribution of PPE to the wider region.
In addition, Mali has endured its fair share of political upheaval of late, with two transitions in government brought about by military personnel occurring since the pandemic began. However, Sangmuah stresses that both coups stemmed from the will for change amongst the Malian people and that the mining sector (gold accounts for over 80% of Mali’s annual exports) has been largely unaffected by the upheaval.
“We’ve not seen any stalemates at all with any of our relationships with government, in fact we’ve seen some things happen at a quicker pace under the latest military government. Over time those relationships are going to be strengthened, particularly when an election timetable is produced.
“We believe that Mali is in the early stages of a democratic process and other democracies in Africa -like Ghana – went through similar times in the past involving political military changes and came out the other side. That is why we have not changed our business strategy here,” Sangmuah asserts.
On the right path
Ultimately, Roscan aims to maximise shareholder value via discovery and resource development across its ever-growing land package in Western Mali. So far, so good for the junior explorer, which has seen its market capitalisation grow from C$15 million in December 2019 to C$149 million in March 2022.
This could just be the tip of the iceberg though, considering that each of Roscan’s discoveries could be a company maker in their own right, in addition to the fact that nearby projects that have been put into development in that area are trading North of C$1-2 billion. Watch this space closely.