The Essakane mine is being constructed in the West African country of Burkina Faso by IAMGOLD Corporation. Once completed, it will be the largest mine in Burkina Faso and will represent one of the largest foreign private investments ever made in the country.
Current plans are for a gold mining operation that will produce 300,000 to 400,000 ounces per year for an eight or nine year mine life, although serious exploration efforts are also being undertaken to add resources and extend the mine life. An open pit mining operation using conventional hydraulic excavators and diesel-mechanical trucks will feed a CIL gold processing plant which will treat up to 9 Million tonnes of ore annually.
Construction at Essakane began in earnest at the end of 2008, and the mine is projected to begin processing ore, to reach commercial production by August of 2010. Construction of Essakane in the north eastern, Sahel region of Burkina Faso has presented many challenges. The region is very arid, experiencing only 600 ml of rain per year on average, typically falling only during the months of May through July. Extensive water storage and water management structures constitute a critical component of the mines infrastructure. The operation will employ thickened tailings deposition to minimize water consumption during operations. The remoteness of the site has demanded a rigorous logistics effort to ensure prompt delivery of equipment and building supplies through the construction period. As well, five small villages and a town have been moved, with over 12,000 people relocated from within the industrial area to new homes as part of a comprehensive relocation plan developed together with the local population.