Aim-listed Hummingbird Resources discovered 255 600 oz of gold across three key focus areas (Sanioumale East, or SE, Sanioumale West, or SW, and Komana East, or KE) of the Yanfolila mine, in Mali, in 2020.
The exploration programme, in which it invested $5-million in 2020, was aimed at improving confidence in the company’s mineral inventory by infill drilling within the pit shells and to reorganise its mineral resource estimate (MRE) database to include increased Joint Ore Reserves Committee (Jorc) reporting – with Hummingbird confirming success in meeting these objectives.
In terms of additional resources, the miner reports that, at SE, 141 900 oz of gold was discovered, revealing a larger than previously known deposit which remains open along strike and at depth. This takes SE’s Jorc-compliant MRE to 204 000 oz of gold.
Exploration at SE is being “aggressively followed” up with further exploration, the miner states.
At SW, 26 200 oz of gold were discovered, taking this Jorc-compliant MRE to 164 200 oz of gold.
At KE, 87 500 oz of gold was discovered, taking this Jorc-compliant MRE to 560 600 oz of gold (net of depletion). Drilling shows evidence that KE remains open at depth which adds further confidence to KE underground plans, states Hummingbird.
As such, the miner says this year’s exploration budget has been doubled, to $10-million, and will focus on the three key deposits and greenfield targets.
Compared with the two-million ounces of gold in the MRE published in March 2019, the total project mineral resources (indicated and inferred) as at December 31, 2020, were 1.92-million ounces of gold, comprising 1.47-million ounces indicated and 454 000 oz inferred.
Further, the 2020 SW exploration programme saw Hummingbird update its deposit geological model based on new drilling data and logging, which resulted in some of the Gold Fields historical resources being removed from the 2020 MRE.
Going forward, the 2020 MRE will be used to update Hummingbird’s reserve statement which is expected to be released later this year.
CEO Dan Betts says that, during 2020’s exploration programme, Hummingbird’s objective was to both discover new ounces that could form future extensions to the mine life at Yanfolila, and increase confidence in the miner’s known mineral deposits.
In accomplishing these objectives, he says the company now has the confidence in the ability to further extend the mine life at Yanfolila; both in terms of openpitable resources and the potential for underground mining.
“Of particular note is the increase in resources at SE that also included the discovery of new structures and some spectacular grades and intersections. This deposit is still completely open and we are already drilling it aggressively as part of the 2021 programme.”
More generally, in 2021, Betts says Hummingbird intends to build on its 2020 exploration work with a significantly increased budget.
“The focus in 2021 will be more towards increasing resources as opposed to infill drilling. The cheapest ounces are the ones you find, and this is particularly true at Yanfolila where we will have soon fully paid down our debt, and any extensions to the life-of-mine add meaningful, immediate and tangible value.”