‘The company has faced challenges ramping up operations at Kouroussa mainly through lower mining productivity rates than planned’
HUMMINGBIRD Resources was “priced to fail” early last year, according to Dan Betts, who described 2022 as “a shit show” following production misses at Yanfolila, its Mali gold mine. Last year, however, was a partial improvement. At the time of writing, the firm’s share clawed back some of its losses in 2022 – a performance assisted by a buoyant gold price. But the main driver has been operational consistency at Yanfolila that saw Hummingbird regain its 80,000 to 90,000 ounce production of recent years. The plan to establish Hummingbird as a 200,000 oz/year gold producer has come with birthing pains.
In July 2023, Hummingbird poured first gold from its new $120m Kouroussa mine in Guinea and then secured a $55m loan from Coris Bank to bolster the balance sheet while Kouroussa ramped up. The loan took net debt to $122.8m as per the third quarter, a consequence of Kouroussa and the failure of Yanfolila in 2022. Betts pledged to a three-year repayment plan starting with $77m this year. In December 2023, however, Hummingbird returned to the market amid ramp-up delays at Kouroussa with a $30m equity placement of which $25m was cornerstoned by CIG, taking the investment bank’s stake in Hummingbird to 45%.
Hummingbird also said it would hedge 15% of its forecast gold production for 2024 in an effort to provide some top-line security. The funds are to bolster the balance sheet but $5m has been set aside for exploration, including work at the Dugbe gold project in Liberia. In its December recapitalisation announcement, Hummingbird also said it had exercised an option to flip up its 51% asset level stake in Dugbe to a 51% controlling stake in Pasofino Gold, its Toronto-listed joint venture partner, which has been developing the project.
LIFE OF DANIEL
Hummingbird MD Dan Betts’ family owns the oldest privately held gold bullion-smelting business in the UK. The company has a long history of smelting, refining and trading across the world. Betts himself joined the family firm in 2000, a few years after he graduated from Nottingham University. He went on to found Hummingbird in 2005 with the support of his father, Stephen Betts, who also sits on the board as a non-executive.