Core asset: the Yanfolila gold mine in Mali
In 2014 Hummingbird Resources PLC (LON:HUM) took over the Yanfolila gold project in Mali from Gold Fields (JSE:GFI), which in turn had taken it over from one-time London-listed junior Glencar.
Gold Fields, as one of the largest gold producing companies in the world, had concluded that on the whole the project was too small for it. But that hadn’t precluded it doing a lot of detailed investigations on viability, following up on the initial resource work that had been done by Glencar.
This work was then handed onto Hummingbird, which proceeded rapidly on to completing final economic studies, raising money and moving on into development.
Economic in a variety of gold price scenarios
According to the most up-to-date study conducted by Hummingbird, Yanfolila is capable of producing an after-tax internal rate of return of 60%, assuming a gold price of US$1,250, lower than where it is now.
That would be on the basis of life of a production scenario weighted towards the early years, but which over the life of the mine would produce at an average rate of 107,000 ounces per year.
However, if gold were to rise to US$1,400, the after-tax IRR rises to 77%. Similarly the NPV jumps from US$162 mln to US$216 mln.
Conversely though, if the gold price should fall to US$1,100, the project will still enjoy a 42% internal rate of return.
Hummingbird has now commenced mining at Yanfolila, although gold production is still some weeks away. That’s partly because the plant isn’t quite complete yet, and partly because the company is building up a planned stockpile of ore to allow for an orderly introduction into the process plant before the end of the year.
As it stands, Yanfolila is forecast to produce 132,000 ounces in its first year of production, at an average all-in sustaining cost over the life of the mine of US$695 per ounce.
Well-covered by brokers
In 2016, Beaufort Securities called Yanfolila “one of the best undeveloped gold projects in Africa”.
That analysis is only running out of date because Yanfolila is now producing, but the company is well-followed by other brokers, including Mirabaud, SP Angel and Shore Capital, and that kind of coverage isn’t always easy to achieve for a junior miner.
But with the gold price on an upward trend, and gold companies known to re-rate significantly once they move from development into production, the reasons for the interest are pretty clear.
Chief executive in upbeat mood
“Commencement of mining activities at Yanfolila is a significant milestone for Hummingbird as we continue to bring the project closer to production by the end of this year,” said chief executive Dann Betts.
“Our contract mining partners, AMS, have mobilised a significant fleet to site and this commitment emphasises the momentum the project has gained throughout the year. As we enter the final months of construction we remain on time and budget for first gold by the end of 2017. We will look to build on the current momentum as we ramp up to full scale mining and production.”