MALI – AngloGold Ashanti and Barrick Gold have concluded the sale of their interest in Morila Limited, which owns 80% of the Morila gold mine in Mali, to Firefinch (previously named Mali Lithium) for US$28.8 million.

The state of Mali continues to hold the remaining 20%. The net proceeds to AngloGold Ashanti’s account will be US$3.6 million taking into consideration shareholder loans and intercompany payables.

Firefinch will seek to extend Morila’s life by accessing satellite resources and adapting the mine’s infrastructure. The company will employ all of Morila’s workforce, providing ongoing benefit to the mine’s local stakeholders. The mine had been scheduled for closure in 2021.

The sale of Morila is aligned to AngloGold Ashanti’s strategic objective of streamlining its portfolio to focus its capital allocation on assets with longer life and lower costs.

Since it went into production in October 2000, Morila produced 6.9 million ounces of gold and paid more than US$2.5 billion to stakeholders in the form of dividends and taxes.

Morila, which was operated by Barrick Gold, transitioned to a stockpile treatment operation in 2009 and began processing tailings in 2013.

Noting that all Morila employees had been re-employed by Firefinch, Barrick president and chief executive Mark Bristow said the transaction would benefit the mine’s Malian stakeholders by giving Firefinch the opportunity to extend its life by accessing satellite resources and adapting the infrastructure. The mine had been scheduled for closure in 2021.

Barrick has been the operator of the mine and the sale is in line with its policy of selling non-core assets to concentrate on Tier One mines – those with the capacity to produce at least 500,000 ounces of gold annually for more than 10 years in the lower half of the industry’s cost curve.

Bristow said Barrick remained committed to its partnership with Mali, where it owns and operates the Tier One Loulo-Gounkoto gold complex.

The discovery and development of Morila served as the springboard for the Barrick legacy company Randgold Resources’ expansion into Africa.

“Yesterday we announced that we own Morila and today we start drilling the gold project. We have a strong team in place and are wasting no time in executing our plans to add to the mining inventory then ramp-up gold production. We look forward to updating shareholders with the results of drilling as soon as they are available,” Firefinch’s executive chairman Alistair Cowden said.

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