Maya Gold & Silver Betting Heavy In Morocco

Maya Gold and Silver (TSX: MYA) incorporated in 2007.  They are based in Blainville, a suburb of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  In 2008, their initial public offering yielded $2 million and they were listed on the TSX  Venture Exchange.  Moving quickly, Maya acquired all or parts of four Mexican concessions that same year, before dumping three of them in 2009 when they acquired their first Moroccan interest, a 10% stake in the Amizmiz property.   In 2010, Maya exercised a 60 % option and also purchased the remaining 30% to gain 100% ownership of Amizmiz.   While researching the Amizmiz purchase, Maya identified several additional near-term locations in the vicinity that showed great promise.  2011 was marked by a buying spree, as Maya gobbled up several additional Moroccan properties – Azegour, Zgounder, and  “#233263”.  2012 was less exciting, as Maya focused on their existing holdings.

on January 30, 2013, the company appointed Mr. Mokaddem as President. Mokaddem joined Maya in June 2010 as Executive Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer and director of the Corporation. He is also President of Compagnie Minière Maya-Maroc, the Corporation’s wholly-owned Moroccan subsidiary. Before joining Maya, Mr. Mokaddem held senior positions at ONA Group and OCP Group. He has played an important role in the development of several major mining operations, such as the Akka gold mine and the Guemassa complex in Morocco. Mr. Mokaddem is a civil engineer graduated from the State School of Engineers, in Mons, Belgium.

Mr. Goulet stated “Mr. Mokaddem is a key officer of Maya as he has gained extensive experience and knowledge of the mining industry in Morocco. He has deep and proven operational expertise, strong strategic and analytical skills and outstanding leadership abilities. We are confident that with such abilities and experience, Mr. Mokaddem will lead Maya forward as President, continue to sharpen Maya’s plan to focus on exploration and development in the Kingdom of Morocco and deliver value for shareholders in the years ahead.”

Leadership

President and CEO Guy Goulet, a geological engineer by trade, has served on the boards of many mining companies.  Prior to joining Maya in November 2008, Goulet was CEO and Chairman of the Board of H2O Innovation, the first public company to be dually listed on both the TSX Venture Exchange and the Alternext.  Executive Vice President and COO Noureddine Mokaddem brings executive experience from previous posts at OCP Group, UNNA Holding, and ONA Group.  It was at those latter two organizations that Mokaddem worked directly in mining and renewable energy and where he gained his Moroccan experience.  With a background in major mining operations and in Maya’s focus country of Morocco, Mokaddem plays an integral role in Maya’s fortunes.

Development strategy

Taking advantage of the recent privatization of the Moroccan mining industry, Maya jumped in with both feet.  As the “most important producer of phosphates in the world”, Morocco is governed by a constitutional monarchy with a stable history.  Seen as Africa’s most Europeanized country, the Moroccan government views mining as an economic driver and has taken steps to make Morocco as amenable as possible for mining companies.  Starting with a five year tax free window, Morocco goes further by providing a further 50% tax reduction on all mining exports.  The Moroccans also encourage development by contributing to private infrastructure, developing excellent public infrastructure, and by investing in thermal, hydroelectric and solar energy.  With 65% of Moroccans under 25 years of age, Maya has an ideal labor pool to tap into.

Current assets

Maya’s most significant Moroccan acquisition is the Zgounder property.  Located within 300 kilometres of the port city of Agadir, Zgounder first operated in 1990. Zgounder is seen as Morocco’s second most significant mining asset behind Imiter.  With promising new deposits both north and east of existing openings that can be extracted by open pit mining and near complete infrastructure left by the previous operators, Zgounder is an attractive site nearly ready to begin operation.  In a nine year period covering most of the 1980’s, Zgounder annually produced 655,000 ounces of silver.

The Amizmiz property is located in the province of Marrakech in the High Atlas Mountains.  A mere seven kilometres from the town of the same name, Amizmiz is mostly accessible by paved roads.  Maya possesses five exploitation licenses and one exploration license totalling 96 square kilometres at Amizmiz.

Sitting 12 kilometres south of the Amizmiz property, Azegour has been operating periodically since 1931.  With a 100% stake in the site and an exploitation permit, Maya is looking for Azegour to continue its significant yield of base metals.  Easily reached by road, Azegour covers 16 square kilometres.  During its initial run in the 1930’s and 1940’s, Azegour averaged annual outputs of 30,000 tonnes of ore.  With the improvements in practice and technology in the past 70 years, Maya hopes to exceed those output levels.

Sitting a mere five kilometres south of Imiter, Morocco’s top mine, the Permit #233263 area covers 16 square kilometres in its single exploration permit.  #233263 is less than 140 kilometres from Ouarzazate, the provincial capital.  This site is still in the early stages of development but has good access and promising sampling results.

Maya has one non-Moroccan asset.  La Campana sits in the southern Sierra Madre Occidental Range on the border between the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Durango.  While only 75 kilometres east of Mazatlan, the site has accessibility issues, as no roads access the area, making the final leg achievable on foot, horseback or via helicopter.  Tests and sampling reveal the potential for significant yields and Maya considers the entire region significantly underexplored.  Before La Campana can begin to be developed a significant infrastructure investment will need to be made.

Looking ahead

Maya Gold and Silver is working to make Zgounder fully operational.  With most amenities required by a modern mining operation already on site, Zgounder only requires some basic infrastructure maintenance before the site is ready to handle the demands of such an operation.  The other projects sit further from production, with the fortunes of the La Campana venture seemingly dependent on Moroccan results.