African Aura Mining Inc. has had plenty of good news to celebrate of late. The company has recently made several development announcements, all signalling growth of their key projects.
African Aura is an established TSX and AIM listed gold and iron ore development company, and has concentrated their efforts west Africa. The company is led by a management team with strong track records in the discovery and development of new commercial deposits.
The company has three main chosen commodities, the newest of which is diamonds. They are practiced in gold and iron ore, and these prospects are investigated in different geographical areas.
African Aura’s focus is on the fast track development of their flagship assets: in Liberia; the Putu and New Liberty Gold projects, and in Cameroon, the Nkout Iron Project. The company also has a 32.1 per cent interest in Stellar Diamonds plc, a London-listed diamond producer.
Putu Project: Liberia
African Aura’s Putu Project is a 425 km2 licensed zone in Liberia, with an NI 43-101 inferred resource estimate of 1.07 Bt @ 37.6 per cent Fe from 2.6km of strike. Its location is in South East Liberia, 100 km from the Atlantic Coast. Currently, a 4,000 drilling program has been completed, and selected results included 63.54 per cent Haematite over 63.0m, 54.21 per cent haematite over 54.6m, 63.60 per cent haematite over 49.5m, and 39.04 per cent fresh magnetite over 367.4m.
President and CEO of African Aura Luis Guilherme Cabrita da Silva,says that Putu is the company’s cornerstone project, though the group is actively demonstrating value through all three chosen project division. “Our projects are very large and high value, we’re trying to create value for existing shareholders,” he explains, citing Putu as the company’s “most advanced project.”
It was 2008 when African Aura signed their deal with a Russian steel producer, and with Putu went into full swing (the steel company is now renamed joint venture company, Sevestral Liberia Iron Ore Ltd.).
Da Silva cites infrastructure and location as two advantages for the Putu Project. Putu is close to the coast, but also importantly, the land between the project and the coast is gently sloped and free from any major topographic features.
In addition, “three possible deep water port sites have been identified and initial investigations by the Australian consultancy Quantm have shown that possible rail routes exist that have no major infrastructure considerations, such as bridges or earthworks required and are in the range of 110 to 140km long” the company reports. This is a positive element to Putu—considering rail is relied upon as a huge factor in resource development. The company also says that although there is currently no major port on the stretch of coast to the south of the project “deep water is to be found very close inshore in all three potential sites, deep enough to accommodate large bulk carriers.”
Development is coming along at Putu, incluing development of the community. Da Silva says that the company built a camp, and the local village “has probably doubled in size.”
“We have 130 people working locally, and there only seven expatriats in the whole company” he adds. The project is being fast tracked to a pre-feasibility study, and the company expects metallurgical results this month.
“By the end of this year, with this drilling and the testing we’re doing, we’re going to have a very good idea of what’s in Putu ridge.”
Nkout Iron Project: Cameroon
African Aura has 100 per cent ownership of the Nkout Iron prospect in the company’s Djoum license in southern Cameroon. The company says that it was identified from “interpretation of airborne magnetic and remote sensing data in 2006 whilst investigating gold occurrences in the 150km long, Sangemalina-Djoum Archaean greenstone belt originally identified by the BRGM.”
According to da Silva, “Nkout is strategically well-placed, I think we’re in a strong position in terms of the exploration program there.”
The company retained GT Exploration Services of South Africa in April 2009 to undertake a reconnaissance sampling and mapping programme at the Nkout project in order to define areas for initial drill testing along Nkout ridge. The results from this programme indicated that Nkout comprises mainly high grade haematite and magnetite. Luckily, the results are complimented by good infrastructure—much like Putu.
The town of Djoum is located 280 km SE of Yaoundé, and from Yaoundé it takes five to six hours to reach Djoum, via Sangmelina. The province in which Nkout is situated is in a “significant iron ore province which includes Sundance Resources’ Mbalam iron deposit located 150km to the south east,” according to the company, and “the whole province lies within reach of the site of the proposed deep water port at Kribi on the Atlantic coast.“
New Liberty Project: Liberia
According to da Silva, although Putu is African Aura’s cornerstone project, the company looks to spend the most money developing the New Liberty project in north west Liberia. The company has 100 per cent ownership of the projects which is on an east-south-east trending, highly sheared and mylonitised schist-belt.
This area is one of intensive alluvial gold mining, and is known as Gold Camp. There are two major hard rock artisinal mining camps known as Larjor and Kinjor. The area is well-suited for African Aura to develop, as New Liberty is close to infrastructure and has a 1.38 million ounce resource. “There aren’t many projects in West Africa, and the region is the fastest growing gold region in the nation” da Silva explains.
The company just completed 11 thousand meters of drilling—and they plan to be updating the market shortly with the results of that drilling.
The company now needs to concentrate on raising financing for the gold project, and ultimately Putu as well—according to da Silva. “By virtue of size and value, Putu is our biggest project,” he says, “but the one we’re spending the most money on as a company is New Liberty.”
Ready for the next step
The company’s competitive advantage in this scenario is that they are still “fundamentally under-valued,” da Silva explains, “and people are still waking up to that—I think that gives us an edge.” There are surely not too many companies involved in both gold and iron ore like African Aura. And for a company well-practised in advancing projects, the company should have no problem getting to their next milestones. Either way, da Silva assures that African Aura will continue to “deliver on what we promised—for a long time.”
Ultimately, African Aura’s strategy is to be “a ‘first mover’ within highly prospective and under explored geological provinces, in pursuit of the next generation of gold and iron ore mines in emerging sub-Saharan Africa.”