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Firefinch provides Morila operations and drilling update

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Global Mining Review,

Firefinch Ltd has provided an update on the company’s operations at the Morila Gold Project. Production during the September 2021 quarter (3Q21) totalled 12 149 oz of gold (Au), with notable milestones including the start of mining at the Viper Deposit and, in the last few days, the commencement of haulage of ore from Viper to the Morila process plant.

An intensive drilling programme continues with five drill rigs currently in operation. Of these, four rigs are drilling at the Morila Deposit (three diamond drill rigs and one reverse circulation [RC] rig). Drilling is focused on following up recent and historical high-grade intercepts such as 10.5 m at 34 g/t Au in MRD0001, as well as improving delineation of mineralisation within initial mining areas to the west.

Firefinch’s Managing Director, Dr Michael Anderson, commented: “We are very pleased with progress at our Morila operations, which continue to advance towards our goal of achieving more than 100 000 oz Au production in 2022. While our 3Q21 production was impacted by the wet season, the continued improvement in grade, recovery and the commencement of mining at the satellite pits provides a solid platform for next year. It is also very encouraging that our drilling continues to intersect significant mineralisation, as well as highlighting high-grade targets for follow up.

“We are also pleased to announce our collaboration with MSALABS, a subsidiary of Capital Limited, to build a new laboratory facility at Morila, including the innovative Chrysos PhotonAssay process. High quality laboratory services are a key part of managing and maintaining best practice processes and this new facility is aimed at helping us to achieve that. We have a strong relationship with Capital and we look forward to commissioning of the laboratory in the coming weeks.”

3Q21 production update

Production during 3Q21 was 12 149 oz Au, 7% less than the previously issued guidance. The slight miss on guidance was the result of a wetter than forecast wet season impact on mining operations and material handling at the plant. The company has already implemented measures to mitigate potential wet season impacts going forward, with a number of engineering and operational changes made to ensure continuity of mining and processing operations in future years.

Pleasingly the average recovery in 3Q21 was 75%, well above the 2Q21 recovery of 63%. The mill head grade also improved to 0.61 g/t Au during September from the 2Q21 average of 0.57 g/t Au. As part of a planned improvement to reduce elution stripping and other process costs, gold in the process circuit increased by approximately 1000 oz during 3Q21.

The Morila processing plant continues to operate on a 24/7 basis with no significant downtime during the quarter. The first planned maintenance shutdown was also completed during the first half of October with no safety incidents and 92% of planned work completed.

Mining at the Viper Pit commenced during August 2021 and the mining of ore commenced during September. Haulage of ore to the Morila processing plant using a local Malian haulage contractor has now commenced. The availability of Viper oxide ore for blending with Morila Pit fove fresh ore and mineralised tailings is expected to improve both head grade and recovery and provides optionality to adjust the material fed as needed.

Morila resource drilling: first results received

Two diamond drill rigs are currently in operation on the western site of the Morila opencast providing additional geological and assay data to inform an update to the open pittable mineral resources for Morila (currently 21.2 million t at 1.6 g/t Au in the indicated category and 17.5 million t at 1.37 g/t Au in the inferred category).

Results from drilling will inform an update of the Stage 1 pit design, enable the conversion of deeper inferred resources to indicated resources allowing detailed planning of the Stage 2 pit design and provide a further refinement to the mining schedule.

Results have been received from six holes from the northwest of the Morila deposit, including:

  • MRD0006: 9.2 m at 3.01 g/t Au from 210 m, including 3.7 m at 6.81 g/t Au from 211 m.
  • MRD0009: 13 m at 2.20 g/t Au from 291.5 m, including 3.3 m at 6.93 g/t Au from 299.5 m, and 1.8 m at 3.84 g/t Au from 255 m.
  • MRD0004: 15.3 m at 1.91 g/t Au from 279.7 m, including 6.9 m at 3.74 g/t Au from 288.1 m.
  • MRD0007: 20.6 m at 1.64 g/t Au from 221 m within a wider zone of 47 m at 1.05 g/t Au from 217.5 m.
  • MRD0006: 42 m at 1.39 g/t Au from 263.9 m.
  • MRD0008: 4.4 m at 1.88 g/t Au from 290.5 m and 11.0 m at 1.46 g/t Au from 336.9 m.

Multiple mineralised zones have been intersected in most drillholes, with results generally in line with those anticipated from the mineral resource. Importantly, discrete higher-grade intersections have been identified. These will be targeted in follow up drilling, with the aim of better delineating these zones for forthcoming resource updates.

Both MRD0005 and MRD0007 intersected a tonalite intrusive adjacent to mineralisation. Previous studies at Morila have indicated a strong link between intrusive bodies and mineralisation. It is worth noting that the wider zone of mineralisation in MRD0007 straddles the tonalite contact (logged at 246.5 m). In addition, broad zones of anomalous gold were logged at the base of the tonalite in both holes (MRD0007: 98 m at 0.30 g/t Au from 292.6 m; MRD0005: 14 m at 0.78 g/t Au from 376 m). A better understanding of the relationship of mineralisation to tonalite intrusions is key to developing a sophisticated geological and exploration model for the Morila gold camp.

Drilling will shortly move to the eastern side of the Morila pit. A further 17 diamond core holes for 4800 m and a further 10 RC holes for 2500 m are planned in the initial resource drilling programme.

Jamie Boyton, Executive Chairman Capital Limited, commented: “We are very pleased with the announcement of this new laboratory services contract for our subsidiary MSALABS. As an early investor in Firefinch, our relationship expanded with the successful drilling programs undertaken at the Morila Gold Mine utilising five Capital rigs. It is exciting to see this partnership further strengthen with the laboratory services contract, which expands our service offering on site and sees us introduce the first Chrysos PhotonAssay unit into West Africa. This is widely regarded as ground-breaking technology for the industry and will deliver significant benefits to Firefinch as their mining operations continue to ramp up.”

Next steps

The five drilling rigs at Morila are implementing programmes aimed at growing mineral resources and ore reserves, optimising the initial stages of open cut mining, and testing the potential for underground mining. High-grade zones intersected within this drill programme will provide priority targets for ongoing drilling in 2022.

Opencast mining will continue to ramp up with primary mill feed to be provided by the Morila Pit 5, N’Tiola and Viper pits as the tailings resource is depleted. Pre-stripping activities at the Morila Super Pit will commence in 1Q22, which will facilitate a ramp up in production to levels above 100 000 oz in 2022.

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