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Hummingbird continues discussions with Corica, progresses with mining activities at Kouroussa

16th April 2024

By: Sabrina Jardim

Creamer Media Online Writer

     

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Amid ongoing discussions with mining services provider Corica, Aim-listed Hummingbird Resources says it is progressing with the restart and ramp-up of mining activities at the Kouroussa gold mine, in Guinea, with the goal of achieving commercial production as soon as possible.

The company says it has continued to engage with Corica, seeking resolution to disputes between the companies that led to Corica halting work at Kouroussa last month.

The company explains that the aim of these discussions remains to get Corica to return to Kouroussa and ramp-up operations under the existing mining contract.

Corica, the principal contract miner at Kouroussa, suspended mining activities on March 17, citing contractual disputes.

Owing to the ongoing suspension, Hummingbird says it has issued a formal step-in notice, allowing the company to take contractual control of operations at Kouroussa and issue direct instructions to Corica and its third-party contractors and, if necessary, appoint alternative operators or contractors.

The company says the step-in notice allows Hummingbird to take management control and issue instructions to Corica and those operating under the contract.

Should Corica or its third-party contractors be unable to meet these instructions, Hummingbird says the step-in notice gives it the right to appoint alternative operators or contractors to meet the requirements of the contract.

Hummingbird notes that the step-in notice is not a termination of the contract and, with the ongoing constructive dialogue with Corica, the company is seeking to find a resolution of the disputed claims in order that Corica returns to work.

“However, with the current situation adversely impacting on operations, it was necessary for the company to issue the step-in notice for the benefit of all stakeholders,” says Hummingbird.

Meanwhile, Hummingbird has engaged West African mining contractor Etablissement Adama Sidibé (ETASI), which the company has worked with historically and is currently operating the support fleet on site, to provide further operational equipment to increase mining volumes and ramp up progress towards commercial operations.

Hummingbird says it expects the additional ETASI fleet to be mobilised shortly and commissioned at Kouroussa over the coming weeks.

The company says it is also in discussions with additional operators and contractors, alongside the ongoing discussions with Corica, to maximise the full range of mining activities required to reach full commercial production as soon as possible to leverage the current strong gold pricing dynamics and near-term operational platform at Kouroussa.

“The strategic actions we have taken, including the growing of our partnership with ETASI, an operator we have worked closely with in the past, has meant that we are able to recommence the ramp-up of production towards commercial production and is a testament to the resilience and experience of our team to deal with the numerous challenges we have faced over the last four weeks,” says Hummingbird CEO Dan Betts.

Over the past weeks, Hummingbird says, the ETASI support fleet has continued to operate with the processing plant handling the ore along with stockpiled material.

During this period, the company notes that Kouroussa has noted an improvement in feed grade and achieved several strong weekly gold pours despite the reduced mining volumes.

“This improved grade is attributed to mining operations entering the transitional zone of the Koekoe deposit, which in turn boasts higher grades,” the company says.

At the current relative level of 347.5 m from the bottom of the final pit level, the upcoming blasts – which had previously been delayed owing to the suspension of work by the drill and blast subcontractor to Corica – are expected to start providing access to higher-grade ore, crucial for achieving commercial production.

Over the weekend, drilling and blasting restarted on an interim basis, with further blasts planned over the coming weeks.

“Recent completion of grade control drilling has highlighted a significant transition towards high-grade material within the upcoming 15 m, laying a strong operational foundation for the next quarter once operations have resumed,” says Hummingbird.

Hummingbird notes that, since March 18, operations at Kouroussa have continued with the processing plant operating at the expected levels and mining through the small existing ETASI support mining fleet, with the company having achieved several weekly gold pours averaging about 700 oz a week.

YANFOLILA MINE

Hummingbird’s Yanfolila gold mine, in Mali, meanwhile, continues to operate in line with expectations and within guidance for the 2024 financial year of 75 000 oz to 85 000 oz at an all-in-sustaining cost of under $1 500/oz.

The company continues to work closely with the company's primary lender, Coris Bank International, which Hummingbird says remains fully supportive of the business, concerning the mitigation of the financial impacts of the ongoing disruptions.

“Over this period, Kouroussa has demonstrated its strategic significance and potential, especially in the current gold pricing environment, through the weekly gold pours despite the significantly reduced mining fleet and the clear visibility of high-grade material that is well within reach.

“I am also encouraged by the continued performance of the team at our Yanfolila mine, which stands as a testament to the team's hard work over the past 18 months. As we move forward, our adaptability and the strong support from our partners, reinforces my confidence in our ability to achieve our strategic corporate objectives to become a 200 000 oz/y gold producer,” says Betts.

Mining Weekly has reached out to Corica for comment.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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