Junior gold miner reports strong earnings for first half of year

5th October 2018 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

UK-domiciled, London AIM-listed West African gold miner Hummingbird Resources has reported (in its unaudited financial results for the first half – H1 – of this calendar year) that its primary asset, the Yanfolilia gold mine, in Mali, had recorded a solid performance that was in line with the company’s guidance. The operation had poured 51 304 oz of gold (at an average mill feed grade of 3.22 g/t) and had sold 50 667 oz at an average price of $1 312/oz. In all, 577 000 t of ore had been mined and the plant enjoyed a recovery rate of 95.64%.

On the financial side, the company recorded a pretax profit of $3.5-million during this period. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation came to $21.9-million. Total all-in sustaining costs (AISCs) were $884/oz, including the costs of the mine’s ramp-up to commercial production during the first quarter. During the second quarter, AISCs on the gold sold amounted to $790/oz.

“Hummingbird’s H1 interim results show a period of mature progression for the group from developer to producer, with Yanfolilia delivering solid results [as] forecast, with high grades and strong recoveries coming through the plant,” stated company CEO Dan Betts. “Financially the group is in a good position, with strong earnings, and, on a corporate level, our board has adapted successfully while attracting skills and talent appropriate for our operating status.”

The company maintained its production guidance for the entire year at 105 000 oz to 115 000 oz of gold – a figure which included the ramp-up during the first quarter. However, during the current third quarter, production is expected to fall somewhat, because it is now the rainy season in Mali. “We are coming to the end of our first full rainy season as an operator in Mali and the team has experienced one of the heaviest rains seen in the region for a decade,” he pointed out. “This has presented new challenges, which the team has worked tirelessly to overcome. Despite lower production figures anticipated in the current quarter, I am happy that we remain on schedule to meet our annual production guidance. I am also pleased to report that the 2018 exploration programme is at full throttle, with encouraging results coming in from the drill programme.”

He highlighted Hummingbird’s commitment to safety, for both staff and contractors. It had achieved 500 000 lost-time injury-free hours during the first half of the year. He also stressed its engagement with the local community (in the village of Bougoudale). During the first half of this year, the company had invested in the community water supply, completing a new community health centre, training and several new “livelihoods projects”. A charity auction had resulted in Hummingbird raising £75 000 for the Pygmy Hippo Foundation and conservation organisation Tusk.

For the future, the erection of a second ball mill at Yanfolila had been approved. This would cost $13-million and was scheduled to be operational during the third quarter of next year. Once completed, it would increase throughput capacity (assuming the use of entirely fresh ore) from one-million tons a year (Mt/y) to 1.24 Mt/y.

Meanwhile, also under the aegis of Yanfolila, exploration drilling in the nearby licence areas of Komana West and Guirin West started during the current quarter (that is, after the period covered by the first-half interim report). The company described the initial results as “encouraging”. For this year, the exploration strategy is to convert resources of about 1.5-million ounces into reserves and incorporate them into the life-of-mine plan.

The company also has exploration licences for the nearby areas, namely Gonka, Komana East (where an underground operation is being studied), Sanioumale East and Sanioumale West. Hummingbird also has exploration licences in Liberia, in the Dugbe area. These cover three deposits – Dugbe F, Sackor and Tuzon. A preliminary economic assessment was undertaken for both Dugbe F and Tuzon. A detailed feasibility study is currently being carried out on the Dugbe F project.