West Africa has been considered as a global “hot spot” for gold exploration based on the number of plus one million ounce discoveries that have been delineated from the period 1997-2013. Sustainable exploration spend was undertaken to develop this Resource pipeline. The past four years has seen a 67% decline in exploration spend within the region due to the fall in the gold price, lack of investor confidence in the Resource and Mining sector, a strong US dollar and a massive slowdown in global economic growth. The cumulative result is a major decline in exploration discoveries, new Gold Resources and the pipeline of development projects in West Africa. Any future recovery in funding for gold exploration juniors will still need to take cognisance of the three to four year time lag to new Resource discoveries.
This paper gives a historical review on West African gold, examines various case studies of exploration discoveries, reviews the gold potential of the Man Shield and looks at future potential areas for gold exploration within Africa.
A historical perspective on West African Gold exploration is presented with various periods identified including the early Kingdoms of Africa, colonialism and the emergence of Ghana, the first modern exploration pioneers and the resultant gold rush over the last decade.
Case studies of exploration discoveries are outlined and common themes are identified. The examples presented here include Morila and Yalea in Mali and Akyem in Ghana. Important lessons have been learnt for West African exploration from the application of over 15 years of modern and systematic work in the region.
A review of the Archean of the Man shield is presented with specific reference to the New Liberty deposit in Liberia. The geology and exploration history of the deposit is summarised. The major gold bearing structures of Liberia are reviewed and placed in geological context with respect to the Man Craton.
One million ounce discoveries of the last decade are summarized and compared with exploration spend for the region. The current status of West African exploration is reviewed with reference to the massive reduction in funding, the decline in junior explorers and the recent period of mergers and acquisitions.
Finally the presentation reviews the Archean and Proterozoic sequences of Africa and the current gold bearing regions. Future opportunities for gold exploration are suggested and outlined.
View a video of the talk or download the presentation as a PDF: