The Essakane deposit has been an active artisanal mining site since 1985. Between 1989 and 1991, the Bureau des Mines et de la Géologie du Burkina (BUMIGEB) undertook regional mapping and geochemical programs and arranged and financed a program of heap leach test work. The Compagnie d’Exploitation des Mines d’Or du Burkina (CEMOB) acquired a mining permit over the site in 1991, and from 1992 to 1999 carried out heap leach processing of gravity rejects from the artisanal winnowing and washings.
BHP Minerals explored the area from 1993 to 1996 under a joint venture agreement with CEMOB. Coronation International Mining Corporatioin ("CIMC") secured title in 1996 following the liquidation of CEMOB, and in July 2000 acquired six new exploration permits. In September 2000, CIMC optioned the project to Ranger Minerals ("Ranger") who completed several phases of drilling over artisanal mining sites including Essakane, Falagountou and Gossey. Following Ranger's withdrawal from the joint venture, CIMC was approached by Orezone Resources with an offer to merge the companies. The merger was papered in March 2002 and Orezone Resources became 90% owner of the project.
Gold Fields entered into a joint venture agreement with Orezone Resources in July 2002. Orezone Resources was the initial operator of the project until Gold Fields assumed management responsibilities in January 2006. Gold Fields completed a Pre-feasibility Study in the third quarter of that year and finally earned a 60% interest in the project upon completion of a Feasibility Study in September 2007. In October 2007, Orezone Resources entered into an agreement with Gold Fields to acquire its 60% interest and reclaim its 90% ownership of the project.
IAMGOLD commenced management of the Essakane project following the acquisition of Orezone Resources in February 2009.
Discovery of Essakane by artisanal miners
BUMIGEB constructs heap leach plant
CEMOB / BHP Minerals exploration
CIMC secures title
following liquidation of CEMOB
Exploration by Ranger Minerals
Orezone / Gold Fields joint venture
Gold Fields completes Pre-feasibility Study
Gold Fields completes Feasibility Study
2007 Orezone Resources acquires Gold Fields interest in the project
2009 IAMGOLD acquires Orezone Resources
2010 Commercial production July 16, 2010