Firefinch’s Morila gold mine is due for yet another step change as mining begins at the Viper satellite pit.

Since taking over the Malian gold operations from Barrick and AngloGold Ashanti last year Firefinch (ASX:FFX) has progressively stepped up production and recoveries by diversifying away from the tailings retreatment that was the main source of gold under the mine’s previous owners.

Viper has a handy 43,000 ounce reserve and will be a key addition to the mining schedule as Firefinch aims to hit record guidance of 13,000-15,000oz this quarter under its ownership.

It will deliver oxide blending ore to complement ore from the Morlia Pit 5, and a series of new drill results has also headlined its potential to deliver more high grade ounces.

A local JV between global contractor Mota-Engil and Malian owned and operated InterMine has been awarded the mining contract for Viper, which produced 31,000oz for Morila’s old owners, with the mining fleet to ramp up to full scale across August and September.


Viper shows bite with high grades

The Viper-N’Tiola system is 1600m long and while mining commences in the south, drilling is kicking plenty of goals in other areas of the deposits.

New results from infill and extensional drilling include extremely high grades of more than 10g/t, including:

  • 9m at 15.1g/t gold from 40m, including 1m at 98.7g/t.
  • 5m at 11.7g/t gold from 108m.
  • 18m at 2.96g/t gold from 54m, including 3m at 10.6g/t, and:
  • 2m at 12.5g/t gold from 70m.

Further drilling is being planned to chase up these high grade zones with deeper drilling to help unlock new high grade ounces and optimise pit designs at Viper-N’Tiola.

It should come as no surprise that grades like these are popping up around the Morila project, once one of the largest and highest grade gold mines in the world.

Previously known as ‘Morila the Gorilla’, Firefinch plans to eventually revive its large main ‘Super Pit’ to ramp up production to 200,000 ounces a year.

Mining has begun at Viper. Pic: Firefinch

Ore processing to begin in September

Firefinch managing director Dr Mike Anderson said the high value Viper ore would be fed to Morila’s processing plant from the middle of September.

“We continue to generate excellent results from drilling the Viper system, which have enabled better definition of the deposit’s higher-grade zones,” he said.

“Clearly these zones are key to mining and the next step is the commencement of mining operations in the southern part of the deposit.

“Importantly, Viper will add oxide ore to complement the Morila Pit 5 mining operations.

“Plans are in place to expedite mining and haulage of this ore to be part of the plant feed from mid-September and increase near-term gold production.

“The fast-tracking of Viper is another example of the effort our on-site team has put into delivering the ramp-up plan at Morila.”

Morila produced a record 12,555 ounces in the June quarter, with more than 5000oz of that coming in the month of June itself as the pace of mining ramped up.

At the time of writing the FFX share price was trading at 51c, up 12%.


Firefinch share price today

This article was developed in collaboration with Firefinch, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.