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Essakane Gold Mine, Burkina Faso



T he Essakane project is located in north-eastern Burkina Faso, West Africa. It straddles the boundary of the Oudalan and Seno provinces in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso and is approximately 330 km northeast of the capital, Ouagadougou. It is situated 42 km east of the nearest large town and the provincial capital of Oudalan, Gorom-Gorom.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked nation. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the south east, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the south west. It covers and area of 274,000 km²  and has an estimated population of more than 13,200,000. The Essakane deposit is located within a 100.2 km² mining permit that is surrounded by six exploration permits covering a total area of 1,266km².


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.


1985 Discovery of Essakane by artisanal miners
1992 BUMIGEB constructs heap leach plant
1993 CEMOB / BHP Minerals exploration joint venture
1996 CIMC secures title following liquidation of CEMOB
2000 Exploration by Ranger Minerals
2002 Orezone / Gold Fields joint venture
2006 Gold Fields completes Pre-feasibility Study
2007 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