SEMAFO’s corporate vision – establish enduring relationships with the countries in which we operate and through our experience, expertise and financial acumen, partner to responsibly develop natural resources – showcases the Canadian company’s association of sustainable development with geological and mining development. The spirit of this mission forms a thread that runs throughout our history.
Improve the Quality of Life and Livelihoods of Communities
In 1993, Benoit La Salle, founder of SEMAFO, was on a philanthropic mission in Africa when the authorities in Burkina Faso proposed that he return in order to help realise the untapped mineral potential in the country. SEMAFO, which results from the amalgamation of two small exploration companies, was incorporated two years later in order to launch the mining sector in Burkina Faso. The name SEMAFO is an acronym for Société d’Exploration Minière en Afrique de l’Ouest, the French version of our former name “West Africa Mining Exploration Corporation”.
From the outset, the Corporation’s modus operandi was closely aligned with the founder’s humanitarian vision of West Africa as evidenced by an early corporate commitment: “We are committed to conducting our business activities in a manner that promotes sustainable development and an improvement in the social welfare of the regions in which we operate.”
This dual mission remains at the core of our business and took deeper roots through the 2008 establishment of SEMAFO Foundation, a non-profit, stand-alone charitable organisation that supports communities and offers an improved quality of life to regions where SEMAFO is present. Through its three-pronged approach – education, healthcare and income-generating - the Foundation aims to help local communities reach their greatest potential. By guiding communities in income-generating activities, the Foundation ensures that stakeholders will continue to benefit from our legacy even when the company’s mining activities will have ceased.
In a history that spans some twenty years, SEMAFO has successfully commissioned three gold mines in several jurisdictions in West Africa and produced more than two million ounces in gold. Our in-house development, construction, operational, administrative and government relations teams, all of whom are fluent French speakers, draw from more than a decade of operating experience in West Africa. Our success has been governed by the values we practice: respect and integrity, excellence, know-how and teamwork.
Maximise Shareholder Value by Strategically Managing Existing Assets
Our portfolio has evolved and simplified since 1995 when we held 19 exploration permits in four West African countries. In 1995, Les Minéraux SGV S.A., a company in which we were a 50% equity partner, purchased a two-year prospecting permit for the Jean Gobélé project in Guinea. With the financial support and technical expertise of our then major shareholder Managem S.A., and in collaboration with our co-licensee Corporation Minière Afcan, the project was advanced from exploration, site development and mine construction until its first gold pour on April 25, 2002. The name of the mine was subsequently changed to the Kiniero gold mine, which we operated for eleven years. In 2013, the mine was deemed a non-core asset and placed in care and maintenance until its 2014 divestiture to a local mining company.
In 1999, we entered Niger by setting up la Société des Mines du Liptako S.A. (SML). Through the support of Managem, we advanced the Libiri and Samira Hill gold deposits through development, mine construction and to commercial production in October 2004. We operated the Samira Hill Mine for nine years, improving plant availability and capacity, and enabling the mine to produce over 540,000 ounces of gold before its 2013 disposal to SOPAMIN.
Mana, which lies at the heart of SEMAFO’s history, was a grassroots discovery that has now evolved into the third-largest gold mine in Burkina Faso. We advanced this project from satellite image interpretation through detailed exploration, site development and mine construction to its first gold pour in March 2008. Since then, we have expanded the processing plant four times. Since November 1999, we have drilled more than 1.2 million metres on the extensive Mana property that boasts a total surface area of over 2,385 square kilometres on the Houndé Gold Belt. In 2014, the Corporation marked another milestone when it took the high-grade Siou deposit from blind discovery to production in a mere 18 months, thereby boosting Mana production and reserve grade.
Our history shows we have been a pioneer in many aspects in West Africa. The original gold mine operator in Niger, SEMAFO also spearheaded foreign direct investment in the gold mining sector in Burkina Faso, and remains the only mining company in Burkina Faso to establish a non-profit foundation and pledge up to 2% of its net profits to support its efforts in the community. Following its 2015 acquisition of 13 Orbis permits, SEMAFO’s property portfolio reached 7,300 square kilometers, comprising one of the most extensive land positions in Burkina Faso.
Our strategy of quality ounces, cost control and optimisation programs, and disciplined exploration at Mana took us into a new phase of development in 2014, allowing us to generate free cash flow even in a soft gold environment. Driven by the performance of our high-grade Siou and Fofina deposits, we produced 255,900 ounces at a total cash cost of $495 per ounce in 2015, thus meeting production guidance for the eighth consecutive year.
Although we take pride in our solid financial, operational and community report cards, we remain focused on future expansion of our heritage. Our commitment to building an ethical, reputable, world-class gold company through a combination of exploration, development and acquisition remains undimmed.