Kevin Bullock, President and CEO of Volta Resources
2011 saw your Company transition through several hurdles, as it added value and de-risked Volta's flagship Kiaka Gold Project ("Kiaka"). Through several aggressive drilling campaigns, the Company was able to generate impressive resource growth. Currently the resource at Kiaka is an impressive117,420,000 tonnes @ 1.07 g/t gold in the Measured and Indicated categories for 4,029,000 ounces of gold, with another 29,960,000 tonnes @ 1.00 g/t gold for another 1,000,000 ounces of gold reporting in the Inferred category. In April of 2012, Volta announced a Prefeasibility Study (the "Study") based on the Measured and Indicated resources on the Main Zone at Kiaka.
The proven and probable mineral reserve estimate at Kiaka stands at 126,078,587 tonnes @ a diluted grade (5% dilution) of 0.96 g/t gold for 3,888,322 ounces of gold. This reserve generates a mine life of more than 10 years at an average annual production rate of over 340,000 ounces of gold per year, based on a metallurgical recovery of 89.84% and a gold price of $1,372 per ounce. The total cost to build the project was estimated at 610 million dollars and the average onsite operating costs were estimated at $671/oz of gold. The report estimated an NPV of 548 million dollars, based on an 8% discount rate and an IRR of 23.3% based on a 100% equity, pre-tax economic analysis. Based on the assumptions above, the payback period is pegged at 4.3 years.
The Study demonstrates a robust gold development opportunity. These are monumental results for Volta that widely exceeded our expectations and place Volta firmly on the path to production. It's notable that the strong economic benefits arise from conservative assumptions, and with numerous options for optimization, we are confident that we can make these numbers even more compelling. We will continue our aggressive drive toward production, continue drilling our new high grade deposit and conclude the technical tasks required to begin a feasibility study as soon as possible. To this end, Volta is currently sending out requests for tender and plans to have its feasibility study completed by the end of Q1, 2013.
Even as Volta continued to add value and de-risk Kiaka, the general market sentiment and risk profile changed, adding considerable downward pressure on Volta's share price. The Company's strong cash position however, allows us to continue moving the project forward towards a development decision.
The Study is based exclusively on the mineral resources defined in the Kiaka Central Area. Drilling undertaken 750 metres south of the Kiaka Central Area has identified the potential for an open-pit high grade satellite resource. The drilling has so far identified continuous high grade mineralization over a strike length of more than 175 metres to a vertical depth of 60 metres. In addition, potential parallel high grade zones, arranged en echelon, have also been intersected. The Company is currently drilling this target with a view to defining a mineral resource estimate at the Kiaka South Area in early Q3, 2012. The close proximity of a possible high grade satellite resource offers the project the opportunity for commencing production at a considerably higher grade. Currently, the Kiaka South Area is not included in the Company's mineral resources estimates, mineral reserve estimates or in the Study.
The scale and robustness of Kiaka has resulted in multiple expressions of interest from a range of banks and project finance advisory groups seeking to assist the Company to secure appropriate financing arrangements for the project. Following a review of proposals submitted, the Company selected Standard Bank to provide advice on securing the financing for the Kiaka development.
Standard Bank's Head of Mining, Energy & Infrastructure Lending, Don Hultman, commented: "We are delighted with the opportunity to work with Volta's experienced management team to ensure the successful funding and development of their Kiaka Gold Project. Kiaka is proving to be one of the most exciting new gold projects in West Africa, with a considerable resource, strong annual production and potential for economic upside from identified satellite resources."
The Study has identified a number of opportunities to significantly optimize the Project. Volta has engaged Whittle Consulting to undertake a Project optimization study to highlight areas to focus on during the definitive feasibility study. The main benefit of Whittle Consulting's approach lies in its unique ability to optimize all parts of the business together. Novel philosophy and methodology are applied by highly experienced personnel, backed by advanced proprietary software, Prober, developed in stages over the past twenty five years. This will enhance cash flow in the early years, further improve NPV, reduce the payback period and to provide stronger project economics.
At Volta's Gaoua Copper-Gold project, the Company commenced drilling in Q2, 2012 in order to finalize an updated NI 43-101 compliant resource estimate. At Volta's Nassara gold prospect the Company is currently carrying out preliminary bottle roll testing on some of the samples in order to evaluate whether the sulphide ore has any refractory characteristics prior to carrying out its next phase of drilling on the program. Results are expected shortly.
In January 2012, the Company carried out a drilling campaign on its Toulfe target within the Titao gold project. The program confirmed the presence of a 300-500 meter wide mineralized corridor hosted in sheared and silicified granitic rocks. The wide, lower-grade mineralized envelope, comprising several zones of higher-grade gold mineralization, has been traced over the entire drilled portion, underlining the importance and potential of the mineralizing system. The drill holes tested the mineralization down to a maximum vertical depth of only 60 meters. The drilling was therefore limited to highly laterized and weathered litholgies. Deeper drilling, aimed at testing the mineralization underneath the weathered profile will be carried out in the second half of 2012.
2012 should prove to be a very exciting year with an approved 105,000 metres drilling budget. This will generate an enormous amount of data and improve the understanding of all of our active projects. We will be able to issue an updated resource for the Kiaka South Area which will allow us to incorporate this important resource into our definitive feasibility study. We also continue to keep our quality pipeline of projects, including new discoveries, moving forward.
I would like to thank all of the management and employees of Volta and its subsidiaries for their tireless work during 2011 as well as our directors who have provided invaluable guidance throughout the year. My thanks also go out to the many shareholders who have been very supportive of our programs during this difficult year.
President and CEO