By Tiemoko Diallo
BAMAKO, June 12 (Reuters) - Australia's Resolute Mining will start producing gold from a 3 million ounce underground deposit at its Syama gold mine next year, its CEO told Reuters.
In an interview while visiting Mali's capital Bamako this weekend, Resolute Mining CEO John Welborn also said a recently discovered adjacent deposit called Nafolo was expected to yield between 1.5 million and 2 million ounces of recoverable gold reserves.
The Syama gold mine had already produced around 2 million ounces from open pit mining at its surface before it was exhausted in 2015. However, there remain a further 3.1 million ounces of recoverable reserves deep underground.
"We will start underground production from the end of 2018. The preparatory work for the construction of this underground mine has already begun," Welborn told Reuters.
He added that Syama's production would be 250,000 ounces a year, up from the 200,000 ounces it produced as an open pit mine, and it would last until 2028. The necessary investment in the mine would be $100 million, he said.
Regarding the Nafolo project, he said "evaluations are in process which in the coming months will yield a precise estimate but I can tell you already that reserves are going to reach 1.5 million to 2 million ounces."
Mali is the third biggest gold producer in Africa behind South Africa and Ghana, and has attracted investors including Randgold Resources and AngloGold Ashanti .
(Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Aaron Ross and Louise Heavens)
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