West African gold stocks are beginning to make a lot of noise about the successes they have had exploring in a rich but underexplored part of the world.

While many companies are turning back to Australia or shifting their focus to future-facing metals like lithium, nickel and copper, microcap Arrow Minerals (ASX:AMD) has gone down a different path.

One of the many African gold stocks covered in our comprehensive guide this week, Arrow was looking at nickel and gold prospects in WA before acquiring Boromo Gold.

It now has five gold projects across Burkina Faso, an emerging gold producing nation that is home to one of the ASX’s top performing new gold mines, West African Resources’ (ASX:WAF) Sanbrado.

One of those is the Vranso project, where Arrow is drilling around 6000m of RC at the moment at prospects including the high priority Dassa target, which has previously returned hits of 33m at 1.9g/t Au and 17m at 3.3g/t gold.

We caught up with Arrow boss Howard Golden at the RIU Resurgence Conference in Perth about the minnow’s African gold dreams and a unique deal with zinc miner Trevali Mining that has significantly expanded its exploration tenure.


So tell us a little bit about Arrow and what makes you an exciting proposition for people who are interested in the gold space?

“Well, to start with, it’s our position on some of the most prolific greenstone belts in the world in Burkina Faso.

“So from a geological perspective, we’re exactly in the right place, and in fact, we have a small deposit that we’ve already drilled out there, although we haven’t done a resource.”

“Then the next part of that is that we’ve done a deal with Trevali Mining, that owns 800sqkm of zinc exploration permits (including the Perkoa zinc mine) adjacent to our permits.

“We put together 85km of this belt that has never been explored for gold because it’s always been owned by zinc companies like Glencore and Billiton and Trevali.

“So everybody will tell you they have a unique expiration perspective, but this is absolutely unique. We signed a deal where we do gold exploration on Trevali’s zinc permits, and they do zinc exploration on our gold permits.

“I’ve never seen a deal like that before.”


Are they producing zinc?

“They’re producing zinc. In fact, they’re getting toward the end of their mine life.

“We gave them some on-strike exploration ground for zinc and we’ve increased our land access by 400% by signing this deal with them.

“And the beauty of it is a lot of the exploration they’ve done they’ve analysed for gold.

“One area in particular, as an example, they drilled three holes, two of them had ore grade gold in them, but there was no zinc, so they walked away. And so we’ve got targets like that, that we’re drilling as we speak, we’ve got a drill rig turning.”


How long have you been operating in Burkina Faso?

“Boromo was there, although before my time.

“But before I came here to take this position I was four years in Russia with Nordgold, who have two mines in Burkina Faso.

“So it was sort of seamless for me staying in Burkina Faso.”


You spoke about how there are very prospective greenstone belts. What makes Burkina Faso such a great place to go exploring?

“Well, there are a couple things. One is that 12 years ago, there were no gold mines in Burkina Faso. If I’m not mistaken, it’s 14 producing mines now.

“So in a decade, they’ve gone from zero to being the fourth largest producer in Africa, which means a couple things.

‘They drilled three holes, two of them had ore grade gold in them, but there was no zinc, so they walked away’

“One, they’ve now got a School of Mines, they’ve got three certified geochemical labs, they’ve got a mines department that’s very experienced, they have a mining code that comes from the World Bank.

“So they’ve matured into a really good, stable and predictable mining jurisdiction. And of course, geologically, in decades you don’t find all the ore deposits in an area that has this much fertile ground.

“So there’s a lot of room for exploration and there’s a really good jurisdiction to do it in.”


What are some of the exploration results you’ve seen so far in the work that you’ve done?

“What we have on our 100% area that we drilled last year, we have an area that’s about 3km long, and it’s at least 300m wide, goes down dip and it’s shallow, and we have results up to 45g/t.

“I think we have 3m at 15g/t, which was one of our better intercepts, and the whole thing averages something close to two grams, which is very economic in that environment.

“And on Trevali’s, on these new permits that we’re just getting into now, they have several zones of 4m at over 25 grams, that was as high as their analytical technique went, and lots of 4-5g/t in 4-6m width.

“So it’s an embarrassment of riches. Really the hard part is figuring out which of these are just a couple of good holes and which is really going to be the meat and get us to that sort of million ounces that we’d love to have there.”


What do you see as the real sort of trigger for Arrow over the next year or so that has the potential to rerate the company?

“We’ve actually got a resource that was on the Trevali land, which was a 2004 JORC, so we’d have to upgrade it, but that’s 150,000 ounces.

“Then we have our Dassa deposit, which is bigger than that. So it’s not unreasonable to think that within about a 20km radius, we can have a mineable resource.

“And given the fact that we’re so close to the good infrastructure of the Perkoa zinc mine, that makes it even easier to work there.

“We think that’s doable in the very short term. We have so much groundwork that has been prepared for us.”


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