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Vancouver-based Montage Gold has made top management changes as the company gears up to materially step-up exploration at the soon-to-be-expanded Koné project area, in Côte d’Ivoire.

The firm has appointed Richard Clark as CEO and Hugh Stuart will continue in the role of president.

Clark said on Tuesday that his decision to take on a more active and strategic role with Montage supported the company’s business plan allowing Stuart and his team to focus on adding resources in and around the Koné gold project, which is set to be expanded with the C$30-million acquisition of the Mankono-Sissédougou joint venture (JV) from Barrick Gold and Endeavour Mining.

Mankono consists of three properties – the Sissédougou exploration permit, the Gbongogo permit application and the Sisséplé permit application – all lying within the perimeter of the Koné project.

The transaction with Barrick and Endeavour will close in the near term and Clark said Montage would “immediately initiate an aggressive exploration programme”.

Following a period of exploration, the company would complete a revised feasibility study from which it would start discussions on development and financing options.

“We are very fortunate in this challenging market environment to have the strong support of our shareholders. This support is based upon a business and execution plan which has delivered value to shareholders in our group for many years over many projects. Coming off the recent successful Orca Gold/Perseus Mining transaction, I look forward to achieving a similar result for Montage shareholders and continuing our impressive success story.”

Stuart noted that he and Clark had worked together for 18 years, from the early days of Red Back Mining and then Orca Gold in Sudan.

“Our management collaboration, supported by the financial and strategic support of the Lundin Group, has led to impressive value for our shareholders and we very much look to continue this success for Montage shareholders.

“The acquisition of the Mankono-Sissédougou JV is seen is a game changer for Montage which we fully intend to maximise to its full value. We look forward over the coming months to reporting on our progress in proving the potential of our Koné gold project, combined with Mankono-Sissédougou, as being one of the next great mining districts in West Africa.”