Following the publication of the Hamama West maiden resource estimate in January 2017, work commenced on the design of a proposed open pit mining and heap leach processing (“HLP”) facility at Hamama West. In January 2018 Wardell Armstrong International Ltd (“WAI”) was appointed to oversee and coordinate the production of a technical and economic study into the development of the “gold oxide cap” resource at Hamama West, representing the uppermost weathered portion of the Hamama West deposit, consisting of oxide and transitional gold-silver mineralisation. The study was submitted to EMRA in May 2018, in support of the Company’s application for an exploitation licence. In November 2019 Aton formally submitted its finalised application for an exploitation lease at Hamama to EMRA and the Ministry of Petroleum (“MOP”), in accordance with its Abu Marawat Concession Agreement.
In April 2020 the Company was offered a 3 year extension to its current exploration lease at the Abu Marawat Concession by EMRA and the MOP, which it accepted. It is anticipated this extension will allow additional time to continue exploration at the Concession, as well as advancing the development of Hamama West. Furthermore, Aton intends to explore the option of migrating the Concession Agreement to the new terms of the Mineral Resources Law, and the new Executive Regulations published in January 2020. Aton fully intends to pursue the development of Hamama West, while also planning to advance other exploration projects, such as Rodruin, towards development during this extended exploration phase of the Concession Agreement. Migration to the new terms of the Mineral Resources Law would remove the requirement for Aton to enter into a profit sharing model and JV arrangement with EMRA, and would also allow the development of Hamama West to proceed under the tax, rent and royalty terms enshrined within the new regulations.