March 22, 2017 / 6:03 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Ivory Coast approves sale of stake in Ity gold mine

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ABIDJAN, March 22 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s government has approved the sale of state miner Sodemi’s 30 percent stake in the Ity gold project to Canada’s Endeavour Mining and a group of investors led by former national soccer star Didier Drogba, a government spokesman said.

Endeavour will take a 25 percent stake, making it 80 percent owner of the project, and the Didier Drogba Group will pick up 5 percent, bringing its total stake to 10 percent, Bruno Kone said on Wednesday. The Ivorian state holds the remaining 10 percent.

“This transaction will allow (Endeavour) to execute its 200 billion CFA franc ($327 million) investment plan,” Kone said, following a cabinet meeting in the commercial capital Abidjan.

Last year Endeavour announced it expected to deliver average production of 114,000 ounces per year over Ity’s 14-year mine life.

Drogba, who most recently played for Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact but won fame during an eight-year stint at Chelsea, took a 5 percent stake in the mine in 2013 in a sign of his increasing engagement in his homeland. ($1 = 610.8800 CFA francs) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Joe Bavier, editing by David Evans)

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