March 31, 2011 08:58 ET

SEMAFO Announces Completion of Mana Underground Feasibility Study: Production rate increased by 33%, to 4,000 Tonnes per Day, from Pre-feasibility Study

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - March 31, 2011) - SEMAFO (TSX:SMF) today announced completion of the Wona Underground feasibility study ("FS"), further confirming the economic viability of an underground mining operation at its Mana property in Burkina Faso. Gold production from the underground mine is estimated at 942,600 recoverable ounces at a cash operating cost of $589 per ounce or $42.25 per tonne processed. This represents a nine-year mine life at a mining rate of 4,000 tpd from the underground mine, a 33% increase in production rate from the pre-feasibility study ("PFS"). All amounts are in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

Highlights of the Feasibility Study (Using a $1,100/oz Gold Price):

  • Total proven and probable mineral reserves of 13.2 million tonnes at 2.74 g/t Au representing 1,163,700 ounces

  • Average annual production from the underground mine of 100,400 ounces at a cash operating cost of $589 per ounce at full production

  • Underground mine life of more than nine years at 4,000 tpd

  • Mining methods: long hole transverse and longitudinal retreat

  • Initial capital expenditure of $140 million

  • Pre-tax operating cash flow of $452 million, generating a 28% internal rate of return

  • Three-year payback period

Gold Price Sensitivity Analysis
      Price of Gold      
  $1,100   $1,200   $1,400  
IRR 28 % 36 % 49 %
Operating Cash Flow $452,000,000   $547,000,000   $711,000,000  

"Changes in capital expenditures are in line with our expectations and are mainly attributable to the increase in development related to additional reserves, a larger mining fleet and a second ramp to accommodate the increased mining rate of 4,000 tpd. The underground potential is still open at depth and to the south and we have yet to incorporate the Kona Zone at-depth potential. We are confident that we will continue to add underground ounces to further increase the project's cash flow and internal rate of return during the development and in the course of operations." said Benoit Desormeaux, SEMAFO's Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer. "This is another milestone in our quest to attain production of 500,000 ounces per year at Mana by 2015."

Study parameters include a 1.8-g/t Au cut-off grade, a processing plant recovery rate of 81% and average energy costs of $0.17 per kWh using 25% gensets and 75% feed from the contemplated National power grid.

Pre-feasibility Study – Feasibility Study Comparison Highlights
Parameters Units PFS FS
Gold Price $US/oz 950 1,100
Processing Plant Recovery % 81 81
Production Rate tpd 3,000 4,000
Total Mineable Tonnage t 9,240,000 13,198,000
Average Grade* g/t 2.86 2.74
Cut-off g/t 2.0 1.8
Reserve Ounces Oz 850,000 1,163,700
Recoverable Gold Ounces Oz 688,000 942,600
Average Annual Production Oz 76,500 100,400
Mine Life Yrs 9 9+
Average Total Cost per Tonne Ore $US/t 41.32 42.25
Average Cash Operating Cost $US/oz 554 589
Ramp Access   1 2
Development Period Mos. 18 24

CAPEX - Initial
$US 93,000,000 140,400,000

CAPEX - Ongoing
Years 1 - 5 $US/yr 3,600,000 4,500,000
Years 6 - 9 $US/yr 3,200,000 7,700,000

* Average grade decreased in accordance with the cut-off grade, mainly due to a higher gold price.

The Wona Underground project is particularly attractive due to infrastructure currently in place and Phase IV of the Mana plant expansion to increase throughput to up to 8,000 tpd in mixed ore. The FS allows for increased underground production of 4,000 tpd, compared to 3,000 tpd in the PFS. The plant processing capacity of 8,000 tpd will be sourced 50% from the open pits and 50% from the underground.

The Wona Underground feasibility study includes updated mineral reserves totaling 1.163 million ounces. The feasibility study for the Wona Underground deposit includes a 37% increase in mineral reserves compared to the June 2010 pre-feasibility study results, representing an additional 314,000 ounces. The increase in reserves is attributable to the addition of the Wona SW Zone. The feasibility study excludes all exploration results received after the December 31, 2010 mineral reserves and resources update.

Reserves include a total of 13,198,000 tonnes at an average grade of 2.74 g/t Au or 1,163,700 ounces, of which 2,383,000 tonnes are at an average grade of 2.51 g/t Au or 192,200 ounces in the proven category, and 10,815,000 tonnes at an average grade of 2.79 g/t Au or 971,500 ounces in the probable category.

Dumas Contracting Limited ("Dumas") participated in the feasibility study by supplying personnel and expertise to assist Met-Chem Canada in estimating development costs and schedules. SEMAFO's partnership with a mining contractor reduces risks associated with equipment availability, underground workmanship expertise and training of National employees, which will in turn also allow for SEMAFO to continue to focus on organic growth within the high-potential Mana property.

A National Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101") compliant report will be filed on SEDAR on March 31, 2011. The FS was conducted by Met-Chem Canada Inc. under NI 43-101 and with the collaboration of SEMAFO's technical group. Patrick Moryoussef, SEMAFO's Mining Operations Manager and Qualified Person (as defined in NI 43-101), has reviewed this press release for accuracy and compliance with NI 43-101.


SEMAFO is a Canadian-based mining company with gold production and exploration activities in West Africa. The Corporation currently operates three gold mines: the Mana Mine in Burkina Faso, the Samira Hill Mine in Niger and the Kiniero Mine in Guinea. SEMAFO is committed to evolve in a conscientious manner to become a major player in its geographical area of interest. SEMAFO's strategic focus is to maximize shareholder value by effectively managing its existing assets as well as pursuing organic and strategic growth opportunities.

About Met-Chem

Met-Chem is an internationally renowned consulting engineering firm established in 1969 to provide all phases of geology, mining, mineral processing and engineering services throughout the world. From its headquarters in Montreal, Met-Chem offers the mining industry professional expertise that covers scoping, pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, basic and detailed engineering, procurement and construction management, training, start-up, commissioning and operations assistance.

About Dumas

Dumas is a leading full-service underground mining contractor with over 1,200 employees providing services for clients all over the world. Dumas offers the full range of underground hard rock mining contracting services including mine construction, mine development, production mining, mine services and engineering, and maintains the highest quality equipment fleet to meet clients' needs. Dumas has an unwavering commitment to an industry-leading health and safety program and to the ultimate goal of "Zero Harm." The company's client list includes some of the world's largest and most respected mining companies.

Caution Concerning Forward-looking Statement

This press release may contain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions and accordingly, actual results and future events could differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. You are hence cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include words or expressions such as "feasibility", "further", "confirming", "viability", "estimated", "mine life", "probable", "initial", "payback period", "expectations", "yet", "potential", "confident", "add", "quest", "attain", "capacity", "will", "committed", "evolve", "become", "maintaining", "strengthening", "increase" and other similar expressions. Factors that could cause future results or events to differ materially from current expectations expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements include our ability to meet the various results of the FS, the economic viability of an underground operation at Mana, the ability of the gold production from the underground mine to reach 942,600 recoverable ounces at a cash operating cost of $589 per ounce or $42.25 per tonne processed, the ability to reach an average annual production from the underground mine of 100,400 ounces at a cash operating cost of $589 per ounce at full production, the ability to maintain an initial capital expenditure of $140 million, the ability to reach our expected operating cash flow of $452 million and generate a 28% internal rate of return, the ability to meet the expected three-year payback period, the ability to add underground ounces to further increase the project's cash flow and internal rate of return during the development and in the course of operations, the ability to attain production of 500,000 ounces per year at Mana by 2015, the ability of Phase IV of the Mana plant expansion to increase throughput to up to 8,000 tpd in mixed ore, fluctuation in the price of currencies, gold or operating costs, mining industry risks, uncertainty as to calculation of mineral reserves and resources, delays, political and social stability in Africa (including our ability to maintain or renew licenses and permits) and other risks described in the SEMAFO's documents filed with Canadian securities regulatory authorities. You can find further information with respect to these and other risks in SEMAFO's 2010 Annual MD&A and other filings made with Canadian securities regulatory authorities and available at These documents are also available on our website at SEMAFO disclaims any obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable law.

Contact Information