MNN Awards: Tietto on target for 3Moz resource

IN a little over four years West Africa-focused Tietto Minerals has transformed itself from a privately funded explorer with no resources in Cote d’Ivoire to a company with 2.2 million ounces of gold that is on a pathway to 3Moz.
MNN Awards: Tietto on target for 3Moz resource MNN Awards: Tietto on target for 3Moz resource MNN Awards: Tietto on target for 3Moz resource MNN Awards: Tietto on target for 3Moz resource MNN Awards: Tietto on target for 3Moz resource

Tietto has been drilling around 8000m a month

Haydn Black


That could be the tip of the iceberg as 90% of the 70km-long mineralised structure at its flagship Abujar project is untested, and could be a multi-million ounce mining camp.
Tietto has not been an overnight success, although its near-constant string of high-grade drilling results since listing may make it feel like one, and its shares have risen more than 140% this year.
The company has been drilling around 8000 metres per month for some time, and its fleet of company-owned rigs have reported costs that are now below US$35/m.
Last week alone, with four of its five rigs operating, it drilled 2058m.
Managing director Dr Caigen Wang said the company initially focused on the nation in 2010, but had to wait a few years for the political situation to settle down.
"We knew the potential of Ivory Coast, but we couldn't get access because of the civil crisis, so we watched, and when it was safe to do so we went across the border and started looking for the best areas," he told MNN.
The West African nation has 34% of the gold prospective greenstone belts in West Africa, by far the largest proportion, but it's substantially underexplored relative to Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.
"In 2014 we secured Abjuar. The artisanal miners had brought attention to the area, and they had exposed the bedrock, so we knew the gold was not transported, but in-situ," he said.
The artisanal miners were cleared out by the government, and Tietto begun drilling beneath their workings, and success was almost immediate.
Within two years, with around 12, 200m of drilling, it defined a resource of 10.4 million tonnes at 2.1gpt for 703,600oz at its Abujar-Gludehi (AG) deposit .
With funding from its late 2017 initial public offering, the company joined the Australian bourse at the start of 2018, and in 2019, off the back of yet more drilling, it delivered two resource increases for Abujar: a 146% increased to 1.7Moz in April, and then to 2.15Moz in November.
With five rigs drilling almost 50,000m in its recent campaign, with a big focus on the Abujar core that hosts 1.8Moz, the explorer is targeting a new resource estimate for September, with a cut-off for drilling results at the end of August. 
Wang, a mining engineer by training, said Tietto was being systematic and methodical in its drilling, and not chasing high-grade hits to spark interest in the share price. 
"Our drilling is spaced on the requirements for a JORC resource. When we have a good result, we don't move a hole to replicate it. We are sticking to the plan," he said.
That plan aims to deliver a resource upgrade of around 3Moz, but Argonaut Securities recently said the resource could "eclipse" that target. It may also increase the average grade of 1.55gpt.
Wang cannot comment on specifics, but told MNN he was confident the resource growth could continue.
There's plenty of room to grow at both AG and the smaller Abujar‐Pischon‐Golikro (APG) deposit along strike, with neither showing any signs of closing off, with AG's strike recently increased by 900m to 3500m.
Recently AG drilling at 450m delivered the deepest intercept to date: 7m at 8.16gpt from 440m, including 3m at 17.16gpt, about 150m below defined resources, and it remains open at depth.
"Last week we designed six holes to test to 550m, and we will be drilling those over the next 4-5 weeks, and we are looking at purchasing a sixth, more powerful rig to drill to 600m and below," Wang said.
There is a 350,000oz maiden resource at APG, 7km south of AG, and an exploration target for 1.5km of 9-23Mt at a ranging between 0.8-1.1gpt that has been the focus of 12,000m of exploration drilling over the past year, which has extended the shallow oxide resource and proven the mineralisation continues at least to 280m below surface. 
Tietto will pause its drilling campaign around August for a brief reset in September, with the next focus likely to be on infill drilling to upgrade the resource category, and prepare for the maiden reserves.
Initial metallurgical testing has been positive with recoveries up to 98%, with favourable characteristics for low‐cost processing, suggesting a simple single‐stage crusher with SAG mill can be used for any development.
The prefeasibility study is planned for release in early 2021, but Wang said internally the company has hopeful of a pre-Christmas target.
The company has other gold projects in Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia at an earlier stage.
Wang founded the company, with former West African Resources chairman Francis Harper joining as chairman. Former Vital Metals MD Mark Strizek is a director and geological advisor, while Chinese mining executive Hanjing Xu is also on the board.
Shares in the active explorer were 16c 12 months ago, and were last traded at 61.5c, valuing the company at $185 million.
Tietto Minerals is a nominee for Explorer of the Year for its AG discovery in the 2020 MNN Awards.