“We purchased 21 properties in Burkina Faso from High River Gold on January 1, 2006, and we’ve been working there ever since. All our properties are in Burkina Faso and the Ronguen project is our flagship. It’s our most advanced project, with a quarter-million ounces. We’ll have a new resource estimate in a few months. We were targeting it for June or July but we had some drilling delays so now I’m guessing August.
“One very interesting feature of the latest results is the step-out hole that’s 430 metres west of the nearest hole drilled in Ronguen. This could have important implications for the size of the deposit.
“We’ve just finished drilling 1,000 metres at Liki, we did another 3,400 metres at Gonaba-Est and 2,200 metres at two other sites and we’ll be following up on all of those. We have an 18,000-metre program coming up so we have a lot of work to do this year.
“Burkina Faso couldn’t be a better mining environment. They started democratic elections in the mid-80s and they brought in a new mining code in the early ‘90s and updated it in 2003. There’s certainty of title. They’re very supportive of exploration operations. Six mines have opened over the last four years, starting from zero.
“Mining is probably the only hope they have of achieving any kind of national prosperity. There’s no heavy industry, little agriculture. There’s some cotton, and cotton prices have gone up, but there’s not enough to make any real impact.
“There’s about 17 million people but the majority of the economic activity is in Ouagadougou, the capital. About 80% of the people in Burkina Faso live on less than $2 a day. That’s mostly a consequence of the rural areas where they make virtually nothing. It’s just a hand-to-mouth existence.
“You can never discount going into production yourself. We always assume that we’re going to take the project into production and we work towards that goal. But if we’re successful in our exploration efforts someone might come along and want to merge or do a takeover or buy the project. The way the industry often works is the big fish eat the little fish and the little fish are happy to be eaten.”
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