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Mako Gold’s seasoned husband and wife team Peter and Ann Ledwidge hope to start drilling at their new project in April after a $6 million IPO, writes Barry FitzGerald in his Garimpeiro column.

Husband and wife team Peter and Ann Ledwidge have notched up considerable success in West African gold over the years.

They were the driving force behind Orbis Gold which found 2.6 million ounces of high-grade gold across two discoveries in Burkina Faso, only to see it taken over by Canadian miner SEMAFO for $178 million in 2015.

Now the seasoned exploration geologists — originally from Canada but now Australian citizens based in Brisbane — are out for a repeat performance with the $5 million to $6 million float of Mako Gold.

Peter is managing director and Ann is general manager of exploration.

Peter makes no bones about his ambition for Mako itself to be become a takeover target in time.

“Our goal is not to become a miner. What we’re good at is finding gold projects. We want to move Mako along to the point where it becomes a takeover target down the road,’’ Peter told Stockhead.

Legendary ‘Garimperio’ columnist Barry FitzGerald has covered resources for 35 years.
‘Garimperio’ columnist Barry FitzGerald has covered the resources industry for 35 years.

“The model is to then spin out the other assets in to a new vehicle. It would allow us to keep all of our intellectual property and all of our staff. Then we would go out and do it all over again.’’

The whole crew at Mako is ex-Orbis, with the exception of the chairman, Mark Elliott.

ASX-listed West African and Australian gold producer, the $830m Resolute Mining, is backing home the idea that the Ledwidge combination and their exploration team can repeat their Orbis success at Mako. (Mako is named after the super quick and aggressive shark species.)

Resolute has put its hand up for $2 million in the float which says something about its respect for the gold-finding abilities of the Ledwidge combination in a part of the world that Resolute itself knows intimately, having been a gold producer in Mali for 21 years.

The Resolute commitment mirrors similar investments it has made in other junior explorers active in West Africa as part of its growth strategy.

Assuming Mako raises the full amount of $6 million, Resolute would emerge with 12.59 per cent.

Novus Capital is lead manager to the float. At the issue price of 20c a share for the maximum of 30 million shares, Mako would start out with a market capitalisation of $15.89 million (79.45m shares).

Mako’s flagship project is the advanced Napie prospect in the north-central part of the Ivory Coast in West Africa. It was picked up in a deal with another West African gold specialist, Perseus Mining.

Perseus has been flat-chat with new mine developments and acquisitions in West Africa to give Napie the attention it deserves.

The deal with Mako provides the fix for the project which has already had $US1.3 million ($1.6 million) spent on it to become drill-ready.

Mako can earn an initial 51 per cent in Napie by spending $US1.5 million over three years and 75 per cent by sole-funding exploration through to completion of a feasibility study and into a potential development.

Mako holds gold interests in Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso.
Mako holds gold interests in Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

Peter describes Napie as the crown jewels for Mako.

Previous work has defined four prospects along a 25km gold soil and/or auger anomaly.

Mako plans to start drilling in April, assuming the float goes ahead as planned.

Initial drilling will involve diamond holes to confirm the orientation of mineralisation and will be followed by an extensive program of reverse circulation drilling, the scale of which will be determined by the amount of money raised in the float.

“We are fairly confident that we are going to have a hit on one of those prospects,’’ Peter said.

“It is one of the best projects I have come across in many years and it is drill-ready.’’

“That is what shareholders want to hear when you do a float.

“They don’t want to hear that you’re doing a soil-sampling program. They want to hear that you’re going to be drilling and generating some news flow.”