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Aurum eyes African gold with PlusOr acquisition

Dr Caigen Wang, second from left, with local Ivorian exploration geologists at Aurum Resources’ new Boundiali project in Côte d’Ivoire. Credit: File

Aurum Resources is set to take its gold search to a new continent after signing a binding agreement to acquire PlusOr Global, which holds the rights to earn into the Boundiali gold project in Côte d’Ivoire.

The project on the southern coast of West Africa covers two contiguous granted exploration permits within Côte d’Ivoire's prospective Boundiali greenstone belt. Both plots appear to remain relatively under-explored.

Importantly, Aurum’s acquisition of PlusOr brings experienced African operator Caigen Wang to its board. Dr Wang, who is expected to be appointed as a non-executive director at Aurum, previously founded Tietto Minerals and was managing director for 13 years until May. During the tenure, he was responsible for bringing that company’s Abujar gold mine in Côte d'Ivoire to full production.

Tietto now has a market cap of about $695 million. It recently knocked back a $650 million takeover bid by its second-biggest shareholder, Zhaojin Capital. The latter is controlled by Zhaojin Gold Mining, China’s third-biggest gold producer.

Dr Wang has more than 25 years of practical experience in mining engineering and mineral exploration in Australia, China, Africa and Canada and has worked on a variety of mineral commodities including coal, gold, nickel, iron, copper, lead and zinc, molybdenum and oil sands.

In addition to securing the earn-in interest rights to Boundiali and the services of Dr Wang, Aurum will acquire assets held by PlusOr, including two man-portable hydraulic diamond drilling rigs and consumables for 10,000m worth of diamond drilling needs.

Dr Wang bought the rigs in China before transporting them to Africa and told Bulls N’ Bears they could be put to work, “wherever you can physically walk”. It will create a something of a “Tietto Mach II”, as that company also has a business model of owning its own rigs.

Aurum has agreed to issue 25.4 million fully-paid ordinary shares to the PlusOr vendor, bringing the company’s total to about 61.5 million. It means the gold explorer retains a remarkably tight capital structure and gives it the option of obtaining funds through future capital raises. However, the deal still requires shareholder approval.

Management says Côte d'Ivoire is emerging as a serious gold producer with a stable political government, strong economic performance and ongoing support for mining activities. The nation hosts eight operating gold mines – owned by well-known miners including Tietto, Barrick Gold, Perseus Mining and Allied Gold Mining – delivering more than 1 million ounces per annum.

Previous drilling at Boundiali has delivered positive results including 22m at 1.06 grams per tonne gold from 87m and a 9m intercept grading 1.79g/t gold. A 4000m drill campaign is set to kick off at the northern tenement next month.

Aurum Resources non-executive chairman Troy Flannery said: “AUE is extremely excited to have acquired 100% of PlusOr that has recently established an impressive foothold in the Boundiali greenstone belt of Cote d’Ivoire. The PlusOr acquisition comes with Dr Caigen Wang (the founder and former Managing Director of Tietto Minerals Ltd), along with the ownership of two brand new diamond drill rigs currently drilling on PlusOr’s JV project within the exploration Permit PR-0893.”

Just last month, Aurum completed a maiden 74-hole air-core (AC) drilling campaign at its Ryans Find gold project, north-east of Koolyanobbing in Western Australia’s Goldfields region. Drilling was designed to test the source of a suite of alluring gold and base metal anomalies etched out in a prospective – and under-explored – greenstone sequence.

Ryans Find takes in about 237 square kilometres of tenure in the historical Mt Dimer gold mining hub along the Marda-Diemals greenstone belt. Aurum says its licence package contains more than 50km of strike length across a relatively unexplored greenstone belt close to historic gold mines and workings.

The area was the focus for nickel exploration by WMC Resources in the 1970s, but has remained largely dormant prior to the 2000s when nickel occurrences began to pop up, rekindling exploration efforts in the region.

The project lies along strike and south-east from the mothballed Mt Dimer Tipan Pit that produced some 8500 ounces of gold grading 3.44g/t in the 1990s. A JORC-compliant resource of nearly 50,000 ounces of gold and about 90,000 ounces of silver has since been defined at Mt Dimer by its current owner, ASX-listed Everest Metals Corporation.

Aurum’s other flagship operation is the Penny South gold project in the Youanmi gold district. A reverse-circulation (RC) drilling program it conducted last year on two different structural targets returned positive gold assays of up to 4m at 0.6g/t from 152m in basalt.

Management says the results have defined a broad zone of low-grade mineralisation, with pockets of higher grade. In March this year, Aurum revealed it had completed a 5.2sq-km ground induced-polarisation (IP) gradient array survey at Penny South that targeted nickel-cobalt mineralisation considered to be hosted within ultramafic schists.

The project lies on structures that host Ramelius Resources’ high-grade Penny West gold mine 800m to the north and the Rox Resources-Venus Metals Corporation's Youanmi gold mine, 30km away and also to the north.

The Penny West mine has produced 154,000 tonnes at 18g/t gold for 89,000 ounces, with a total mineral resource of 620,000 tonnes at 15g/t for 300,000 ounces from the combined Penny North, Penny West and Magenta lodes. The Youanmi gold mine’s historical production is 667,000 ounces of gold grading 5.42g/t, with an outstanding mineral resource of 24.6 million tonnes at 3.78g/t for 3 million ounces.

Historic drilling at Aurum’s Penny South tenement has yielded significant gold intersections, with one assay returning an outstanding 2m at 33.98g/t.

PlusOr is understood to mean “more gold” in French – and that is exactly what Aurum expects to add to its repertoire as it now crosses international boundaries into West Africa.

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