Hummingbird to pour first gold at Yanfolila before year-end

London-listed junior miner Hummingbird Resources expects to pour the first gold at its Yanfolila mine in Mali by the end of December after starting ore commissioning through the mill and carbon-in-leach (CIL) processing plant.

CEO Dan Betts said in a statement that commercial ramp-up at the mine would take place during the first quarter of 2018 with the target of delivering around 130,000oz of gold during Yanfolila’s first full year of production.

He commented, “ore commissioning represents the final step ahead of first gold production at Yanfolila. Everybody on site is totally focused on a smooth ramp-up of the plant as we look to move into the production phase.

“This is a key transitional moment for Hummingbird, transforming the company from a developer to a producer.  Our first year’s production is expected to be around130,000oz of gold which is projected to generate around $70m of free cash flow at a $1,250/oz  gold price.”

Hummingbird bought the Yanfolila project in 2014 from Gold Fields for $20m in shares making Gold Fields a 26.% shareholder in Hummingbird.  The deal was struck at a time when Ian Cockerill – a former CEO of Gold Fields  –  was chairman of Hummingbird.

Cockerill was CEO of Gold Fields from 2002 to 2008. He subsequently moved to Anglo American becoming CEO of Anglo American Coal but was forced out in 2009  during a management “cull” instigated by then CEO Cynthia Carroll.

Cockerill became chairman of Hummingbird in 2010 and told Miningmx at the time, “I have long been a close friend of the Betts family and have been advising them over the past eight or so years.”

He has since stepped down from the Hummingbird board but remains on the company’s technical advisory committee.  Cockerill shares a bond with his replacement as chairman – Russell King – in that King was also booted out of Anglo by Carroll in that same 2009 management cull.