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SEMAFO’s Mineral Reserves and Resources Increase to 7.3 Million Gold Ounces
Wona-Kona Super Pit Contains 1.7 Million Ounces in Reserves
Mana Measured and Indicated Resources Up 148% to 2.8 Million Ounces

Montreal, Quebec, July 11, 2012, 09:30 EDT – SEMAFO Inc. (TSX, OMX: SMF) today announced its 2011 year-end mineral reserve and resource statement. SEMAFO’s total mineral reserves and resources increased by 1.3 million ounces to 7.3 million ounces from 6.0 million ounces of gold, net of depletion (Table 1). SEMAFO’s reserves and resources update does not include exploration results stemming from the 2012 drilling program. All comparisons are to those of year-end 2010.

Highlights:

• Mana’s mineral reserves and resources increased by 1.5 million ounces to 4.8 million ounces, representing a 45% increase, net of depletion (Table 2).
• Mana’s measured and indicated mineral resources increased by more than 1.7 million ounces for a total of 2.8 million ounces.
• The Wona-Kona super pit reserves stand at 1.7 million ounces.
• The Yaho deposit, discovered in 2011, contains 724,000 ounces in measured and indicated mineral resources and 620,000 ounces in inferred resources.
• Initial reserves and measured and indicated resources at Fofina total 376,000 ounces.
• The Corporation decides to proceed with the super pit mining scenario at Wona-Kona.

Mana, Burkina Faso

Mana’s mineral reserves total 25.7 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.40 g/t Au for 2.0 million gold ounces at the end of 2011, after mining 211,000 ounces during the year. This compares to 25.5 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.64 g/t Au for 2.2 million gold ounces in 2010.

Total measured and indicated mineral resources at Mana increased by 148% in 2011 to 51.4 million tonnes at an average grade of 1.69 g/t Au, representing 2.8 million ounces. This compares to 23.6 million tonnes at an average grade of 1.48 g/t Au for 1.1 million ounces at the end of 2010.

In 2011 a significant part of drilling was dedicated to delineation. In addition, exploration drilling at Mana was carried out with a view to extending the mineralization at Wona-Kona. This resulted in the extension and enlargement of the South-West zone, the major contributing factor to the Corporation’s decision to move from an underground mining to a super pit mining scenario.

At year-end 2011 all three Fofina-Fobiri-Yaho zones remained open along strike and at depth. Additionally, auger drilling identified regional scale corridors that will undergo testing in 2012, particularly to the east and north of the Wona-Kona deposit. Late in 2011 a complementary geophysical survey was initiated in order to complete the Helitem coverage of the entire property.

The 2011 exploration program at Mana included 71,000 meters of core drilling, 235,000 meters of reverse-circulation/air core (“RC/AC”) drilling, and 132,000 meters of auger drilling, for a grand total of 438,000 meters. During the year, up to 4 core rigs, 4 RC/AC rigs and 6 auger rigs were active on the property. Forty-six percent of RC/AC drilling focused on delineating the recently discovered Fofina, Fobiri and Yaho zones.

Wona-Kona
The Wona-Kona super pit contains 22.7 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.32 g/t Au for a total of 1.7 million ounces in proven and probable mineral reserves as at December 31, 2011. This compares to 24.3 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.56 g/t Au for 2.0 million ounces in the combined Wona and Kona open pits and Wona underground in 2010. In 2011, more than 2.0 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.42 g/t Au representing 160,000 ounces were mined at Wona-Kona.

In addition, the Wona-Kona sector contains measured and indicated mineral resources of 25.1 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.16 g/t Au for a total of 1.7 million ounces as at December 31, 2011. This compares to 22.6 million tonnes at an average grade of 1.38 g/t Au for 1.0 million ounces at year-end 2010. The 700,000-ounce increase in measured and indicated mineral resources demonstrates the potential to further increase reserves through pit expansions and/or an underground operation. Drilling in 2012 will continue with a focus on super pit expansion, while further technical studies are required to evaluate the potential of an economic underground operation below the super pit.

Wona-Kona Super Pit Highlights:

Dimensions   5 kilometers x 0.5 kilometers x 300 meters deep
Tonnes of ore   22,686,000 tonnes
Average grade   2.32 g/t Au
Average recovery   83%
Reserves ounces   1,694,000 ounces
Tonnes of waste*   273,298,000 tonnes
Strip ratio   12:1
Adjusted strip ratio**   7:1
Cash operating cost**   US$653/oz.
Stripping cost capitalized over the life of mine   US$239 million

 

* Includes 115,000,000 tonnes of waste to be extracted during the stripping phases over the life of mine, for which the cost will be capitalized.
**After capitalization of 115,000,000 tonnes of waste.

The super pit offers many benefits compared to the previously-announced underground project:
  -  Improvement of the overall economics of the project
  -  Significant reduction in CAPEX during the first years
  -  Lower technical risk
  -  Greater flexibility in ore extraction and mill feed
  -  Experienced workforce, trained in open pit operations
  -  Lower cut-off grade to further benefit from rising gold prices

The underground feasibility study called for an initial investment of $140 million. As a result of the decision to move from an underground mining method to an improved overall economic super pit mining scenario, approximately $17 million of underground-related investments will be written-off in the second quarter 2012. The write-off mainly consists of: expenditures associated with feasibility studies, penalties on cancelled equipment purchases, subcontractor expenditures and infrastructure specifically related to the underground project. 

South Sector (Yaho, Fofina, Fobiri)
The Yaho deposit, discovered at the beginning of 2011, hosts 21.8 million tonnes at an average grade of 1.03 g/t Au for a total of 724,000 ounces in the measured and indicated mineral resources category and 17.7 million tonnes at an average grade of 1.09 g/t Au for 620,000 ounces in the inferred category.

The Yaho deposit, located to the southwest of Fofina, has a different geological context. The mineralization is bounded by sedimentary rock, possibly intruded by highly fragmented and brecciated felsic dykes. Gold occurs in association with a strong sericitic and silicious alteration within this unit. In only one year and 30,000 meters of drilling, Yaho successfully transitioned from a discovery to a significant contributor to the measured and indicated mineral resources category.

Initial reserves at Fofina, totalled 188,000 ounces from 2.3 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.54 g/t Au, while measured and indicated resources totalled 3.4 million tonnes at 1.72 g/t Au for 188,000 ounces. Fofina, originally discovered in 2010, introduced its first mineral reserves after less than two years of exploration and continues to demonstrate potential for the future. 
 
Inferred resources at Fofina in 2011 totalled 2.4 million tonnes at 2.34 g/t Au for 183,000 ounces. This compares to 8.4 million tonnes at 3.15 g/t Au for 854,000 ounces in 2010. The variation is primarily due to the transfer of 376,000 ounces to measured and indicated mineral resources and reserves categories and to the new geological interpretation following last year’s in-fill drilling results.

As part of SEMAFO’s focus on southern development, metallurgical test work on a limited number of samples was launched early in 2012. Preliminary standard CIL test processing results show sulphide-related challenges with average recovery rates of 20%, 26% and 48% reported for Fobiri, Fofina and Yaho respectively. However, the Corporation is optimistic that recovery rates can be significantly improved with modified processes including sulphide flotation, and sulphide concentrate regrinding and oxidation. Preliminary flotation results show that the southern sulphides float very well, thereby demonstrating potential for recovery improvements. Approximately 40% of the south sector’s measured and indicated mineral resources are in sulphide mineralization.

While additional drilling and metallurgical test work currently underway are necessary prior to making a decision regarding additional milling capacity, the Corporation is confident that the south sector will continue to expand Mana’s mine life and economics.

2012-2013 Priorities

  • • Continue drilling and metallurgical testing to define additional reserves in the south sector
  • • Continue drilling and metallurgical testing to define initial reserves at Yaho
  • • Continue drilling to further expand the Wona-Kona super pit
  • • Carry out drilling over new exploration targets
  • • Carry out studies to confirm the underground potential below the Wona-Kona super pit
  • • Reduce turn-around time for assay results

The 2012 exploration budget for Mana has been established at $36 million.

Samira Hill, Niger

Samira Hill’s total reserves stand at 11.1 million tonnes at 1.46 g/t Au for 522,000 ounces, compared to 9.5 million tonnes at 1.67 g/t Au for 507,600 ounces as at December 31, 2010. We have thereby more than replenished reserves mined in 2011. The main addition to reserves comes from Boulon Jounga North, where resources were upgraded to reserves.

Exploration work in 2011 consisted of 1,340 RC/AC holes totalling 83,374 meters and 880 auger holes totalling 8,601 meters. AC drilling was used as a preliminary exploration tool in order to highlight new gold-bearing zones throughout the property, particularly at Tondé-Boubangou (“TB”). At TB, located 20 kilometers north of the Samira mill, mineralization has been traced over a distance of 10 kilometers along strike. TB is the principal contributor to an increase in the inferred resources category with more than 5.0 million tonnes at 0.96 g/t Au for 155,000 ounces.

The 2012 exploration budget for Samira Hill has been established at $6 million.

Kiniero, Guinea

As at December 31, 2011, mineral reserves and resources totaled 11.0 million tonnes at an average grade of 2.22 g/t Au for 786,000 ounces.

Kiniero’s 2012 exploration budget has been established at $2.5 million.

The mineral reserves and resources were estimated as at December 31, 2011 in accordance with the definitions adopted by the Canadian Institute of Mining Metallurgy and Petroleum and incorporate into National Instrument 43 101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (NI 43-101). Mineral reserves and resources estimates for the Mana Mine were carried out by SGS Canada Inc. (Geostat) in collaboration with Michel Crevier P.Geo MScA, Vice-President Exploration and Mine Geology and SEMAFO’s Qualified Person who has reviewed this press release for accuracy and compliance. A technical report pertaining to the Mana property, prepared in accordance with the provisions of National Instrument 43 101, will be filed within 45 days of this press release.



About SEMAFO
SEMAFO is a Canadian-based mining company with gold production and exploration activities in West Africa.  The Corporation currently operates three gold mines: the Mana Mine in Burkina Faso, the Samira Hill Mine in Niger and the Kiniero Mine in Guinea. SEMAFO is committed to evolve in a conscientious manner to become a major player in its geographical area of interest. SEMAFO’s strategic focus is to maximize shareholder value by effectively managing its existing assets as well as pursuing organic and strategic growth opportunities.


CAUTION CONCERNING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This press release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions and accordingly, actual results and future events could differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. You are hence cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include words or expressions such as “will”, “increased”, “potential”, “improvement”, “significant”, “reduction”, “lower”, “rising”, “demonstrate”, “optimistic”, “significantly improved”, “confident”, “continue”, “expand”, “reduce”, “committed”, “evolve”, “become”, “pursuing”, “growth”, “opportunities” and other similar words or expressions. Factors that could cause future results or events to differ materially from current expectations expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements include the ability to further increase reserves through pit expansions and/or an underground operation, the ability to evaluate the potential of an economic underground operation below the super pit and the ability of same to prove economical, the ability to benefit from the super pit in terms of improvement of the overall economics of the project, the significant reduction in CAPEX and from the rising gold prices, the ability for any deposit to demonstrate potential for the future, the ability to significantly improve recovery rates with modified processes including sulfide flotation, the ability to define additional reserves, the ability to expand the Wona-Kona super pit, the ability to confirm the underground potential below the Wona-Kona super pit, the ability to reduce turn-around time for assay results, the ability to execute on our strategic focus, fluctuation in the price of currencies, gold or operating costs, mining industry risks, uncertainty as to calculation of mineral reserves and resources (note that mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have to demonstrate economic viability), delays, political and social stability in Africa (including our ability to maintain or renew licenses and permits) and other risks described in SEMAFO’s documents filed with Canadian securities regulatory authorities. You can find further information with respect to these and other risks in SEMAFO’s 2011 Annual MD&A and 2011 Annual Information Form and other filings made with Canadian securities regulatory authorities and available at www.sedar.com. These documents are also available on our website at www.semafo.com. SEMAFO disclaims any obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements, except as required by applicable law.

The above information has been made public in accordance with the Swedish Securities Market Act and/or the Financial Instruments Trading Act.

For more information contact:
SEMAFO
Sofia St Laurent
Communications
Tel. local & overseas: +1 (514) 744 4408
North America Toll-Free: 1 (888) 744 4408
Email: sofia.stlaurent@semafo.com
Website: www.semafo.com
 
Maria Bang
Brunswick Group Stockholm
Tel: +46 (8) 410 32 189
Email: mbang@brunswickgroup.com

 

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