The Republic of Mali is a landlocked nation bordering Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the southwest and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. The country is just over 1,240,000 km² with an estimated population of almost 12,000,000.
The Sadiola mining permit covers an area of 302 km² in a remote part of Mali with little infrastructure. The minesite is accessed by a regional gravel road to Kayes. There is an airstrip at the Sadiola Gold Mine capable of handling light chartered aircraft. Kayes is serviced by rail, road and air from Bamako and from Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Bamako has an international airport with daily flights to many West African and European destinations. Dakar is a major port of entry to West Africa by sea and air and the primary supply route for imported goods coming to the minesite.
The Sadiola deposit was initially identified as a favourable gold exploration area based upon the widespread evidence of artisanal gold workings and small scale mining by locals.
From 1987 to 1989, a large regional geochemical survey was carried out for the government of Mali as part of an aid program financed by the European Development Fund. The survey identified high gold, arsenic and antimony anomalies near the villages of Sadiola and Dinguilou. In 1990 the government of Mali granted exploration rights in respect of the Sadiola area to an entity associated with the initial formation of IAMGOLD. Subsequent geological mapping, geophysical surveys, pitting and core drilling identified a significant oxide gold deposit.
During 1991 and 1992 IAMGOLD retained Watts, Griffis and McOuat (“WGM”), prepared a preliminary economic assessment of the Sadiola prospect, and recommended a large exploration program with emphasis on drilling to delineate and confirm the mineral resource at Sadiola. In December 1992 WGM estimated a probable reserve of 22.3 million tonnes of oxide mineralization grading 3.3 g/t gold. Later in 1992, IAMGOLD negotiated a JV agreement with AngloAmerican for the development of the Sadiola mine. The gold assets of AngloAmerican were eventually spun off to form the largest part of a new company: AngloGold Ashanti who are currently the operator of the Sadiola Gold Mine.
1987 Government of Mali began exploration of Sadiola area1990 IAMGOLD obtained rights and explored Sadiola Hill and surrounding areas1992 IAMGOLD and AngloGold Ashanti (then AngloAmerican), joint venture to build the mine site1994 Joint Venture granted Sadiola Mining Permit (IAMGOLD (38%), AngloGold Ashanti (38% and operator), Government of Mali (18%) and International Finance Corporation (IFC – a World Bank entity) 6%)1996 December 20th Sadiola poured its first gold bar 2009 IAMGOLD and AngloGold Ashanti both acquire an additional 3% share each in the joint venture. The parties' shares are now IAMGOLD 41%, AngloGold Ashanti 41%, Government of Mali 18%.