Firefinch, an Africa-focused gold miner and lithium developer, has begun operations at the Morila Super Pit in Mali and said ore mining would commence during Q2 2022 once technological upgrades are complete.
The company said its mining contractor Mota Engil is working with Malian group Intermine in a joint venture called MEIM to mine the pit. It is assembling new mining equipment fleets to ramp up operations and accelerate development.
Michael Anderson, Firefinch's managing director, said the operational launch is ahead of schedule and that the company is "well set up for 2022" with new fleet programmes being planned.
In addition to existing equipment, Anderson said that it has received "a brand new 100-tonne mining fleet" set to go live and a fleet of 150-tonne units that will be "commissioned in the coming months."
No further details of the equipment fleets were disclosed.
"Drilling is also ongoing and continues to provide us with increased confidence in the potential at Morila," Anderson said.
"We look forward to safely developing the Morila Super Pit and generating the full value that it has to offer."
Firefinch acquired an 80% share in the mine in 2020, with the Malian government retaining 20%, for $US28.9 million. The mine's estimated resources are 2.43 million ounces of gold.