KEFI Minerals takes full control of Ethiopia gold project in £1.5mln deal

KEFI Minerals (LON:KEFI) has announced it is acquiring the 25% of the Tulu Kapi licence in Ethiopia it doesn’t already own from Nyota Minerals (LON:NYO) for £1.5mln in cash and shares.

The deal follows the initial purchase of its majority stake last year for £4.5mln. Kefi also announced plans for a share placing at 1.5p a share to raise just over £2.1mln.

The proceeds will be used to fund the £750,000 cash component of the deal as well as pay for the revised feasibility study and to reactivate the mining licence application.

Managing director Jeff Rayner said: "We have taken the opportunity to take full control over the Tulu Kapi Project and funding flexibility.

“This is important as our work since the acquisition of our controlling 75% interest indicates that the project will be bigger and last longer than had initially been assumed.

"The team greatly appreciates the support of our new institutional shareholders in facilitating these transactions.

“We also appreciate Nyota's agreement to distribute its KEFI shareholding to its own shareholders.”

Nyota said it agreed the deal as it would be difficult to fund the ongoing work.

It will use the cash it receives to carry out exploration on its Northern Block Licences in Ethiopia, “including the potential for near term cash flow from mechanised alluvial mining”.

Its holding in KEFI, which will stand at 14.6% worth £2.29mln, will be distributed to its investors.

Shares in Nyota crept up 2% to 0.27p, although its market capitalisation is still less than the value of its holding in KEFI.

KEFI, meanwhile, advanced 2.4% to 1.59p, giving investors who participated in the share placing a modest profit.

Still analysts would argue current KEFI share price fails to recognise the potential of Tulu Kapi, or the progress made to date developing the project.  

Last month it raised the estimate of the amount of gold to be produced during the open pit stage of the mine by 50%.

The new estimate followed a scoping level review of the definitive feasibility study (DFS) carried out by previous owner Nyota Minerals (LON:NYO).

KEFI now expects the Ethiopia-based operation to produce 1.2mln ounces during the open pit stage, against an estimate of 830,000 ounces just before it took over the project last year.

There is no change in the estimated all-in cost of US$700 per ounce, while the mine plan will be refined further after completion of a current programme of drilling and trenching. 

Information from this will be integrated into an updated definitive feasibility study that will take into account work undertaken by KEFI on metallurgical testing, engineering, cost verification and economic optimisation.

KEFI said the new open target is still based on processing 1.2Mtpa tonnes of ore per year, but the total rise to 17mt from 12Mt previously.

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