Established Presence: How Riverstone Resources Became a Gold Exploration Pioneer in Burkina Faso Since 2003

For some, the idea of working in a place far from home might be daunting, but for Paul Anderson, it’s all in a day’s work at Riverstone Resources Inc. “I really like what I do,” he declares. Anderson is the vice president of exploration for Riverstone, which has gold exploration permits in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Riverstone President, Director and CEO Michael McInnis founded the company in 1996 and refocused its operations toward Burkina Faso in 2002.

According to the company, it is well-established in Burkina Faso and has been actively involved in exploration of its gold permits since 2003.

McInnis, who has more than 35 years’ experience in mineral exploration, was one of the first to explore in Burkina Faso for gold. At that time, “It was easier to get established [there than in other places],” Anderson says.

During that time, Burkina Faso was very underexplored in terms of its neighbors. The country had no mines in production. However, the geology was the same in Burkina Faso as in both Ghana and Mali.

Since then, Burkina Faso has seen six gold mines opened, which has generated interest from other firms. “There’s a lot of people trying to get into the country [now],” he reports.

Rewarding Work
A geologist by trade, Anderson has more than 25 years’ experience in mineral exploration and joined Riverstonefive years ago. He previously worked as a consultant for firms in Canada, South America and West Africa.

Anderson has enjoyed his time in Burkina Faso. “I certainly like the potential of Burkina,” he says, adding that the country has been easy to work in. “I have made a lot of friends here.”

He also praises the company’s local staff. “All of our guys in Burkina [have] done a great job,” he stresses. “We’ve got a very good team and they work hard, long hours.”

Strong Partnership
Riverstone’s projects include Karma, which is located in the north-central region of Burkina Faso and has an estimated gold resource of 1.9 million ounces. “We have three drills on the property, and are adding three more,” Anderson says, noting that the company expects them to eventually reach depths of several hundred meters.

The company also has partnered with Roxgold Inc., a Vancouver-based exploration and development company on three Burkina Faso properties: Yaramoko, which is located adjacent to Semafo’s producing Mana gold mine; Solna, which is near the country’s border with Niger; and Bissa West, located in central Burkina Faso.

Riverstone has agreed to option a 60 percent interest in the properties to Roxgold. In this arrangement, Roxgold has three years to spend $4.5 million on the properties and can earn 60 percent interest. Roxgold has a $1 million spending commitment for the first year, and Riverstone is the operator.

He adds that the company has enjoyed its partnership with Roxgold. “It’s been very good,” he says. “They’re professionals [in] the way they [work].”

Roxgold President and CEO Robert Sidthorpe agrees. “Riverstone has done a very good job of doing the preliminary exploration on these properties,” Sidthorpe says.

“We are pursuing the opportunity of drilling on these properties to determine the gold potential,” he continues. “We believe that we are off to a very good start in this process and [have had] positive results in the phase one program.”

The increased interest in Burkina Faso among its competitors has made it difficult for Riverstone to recruit new employees, Anderson says. “It’s become a popular place to work,” Anderson admits. “It’s [also] very hard to find drills and other equipment.”

The company now has up to five drills sourced in-country and is bringing three more in from the outside.

However, Anderson sees a strong future ahead for the company, which will find Riverstone changing its concentration. “As we move into a development stage [with our properties], the focus [will shift away from exploration],” he predicts. “We’re starting to move down that path.”

Additionally, the company now has “a plan to have a mine in production in a couple years,” Anderson states. “We have to hire a few more engineers and less geologists.”