Novo Resources (TSXv: NVO) – An Unconventional Mining Story

The Novo Resources Corp. Logo
Novo Resources Corp.
  • TSXv: NVO
  • Shares Outstanding: 179M
  • Share price C$2.58 (06.03.2020)
  • Market Cap: C$461.5M

We recently conducted an interview with Quinton Hennigh. He’s the President of gold explorer, Novo Resources Corp. (TSXv: NVO).

While you’re here, why not check out another gold investment article, or another gold investment interview?

Not all stories in the world of gold mining are easy to understand, especially when they don’t open themselves up to understanding via conventional investment measures. Novo Resources does not have a producing gold asset yet, but the market has given it a sky-high valuation. Why?

We discuss:

  1. The Novo Story: One Hefty Valuation
  2. Novo Resources’ Portfolio Of Gold Assets
  3. Potential For Gold Exploration
  4. Plans To Solidify And Evidence The Share Price In 2020

Company Website: https://www.novoresources.com/

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

The Novo Resources Corp. Logo

Pan African Resources (LSE: PAF) – Strong Management To Make Shareholders Smile

The Pan African Resources Logo.
Pan African Resources PLC
  • LSE: PAF
  • Shares Outstanding: 2.23B
  • Share price GB£0.13 (24.02.2020)
  • Market Cap: GB£287.8M

South Africa is a difficult jurisdiction to operate in, but these guys get things done. The management team has impressed us so far in 2020, and the market is responding.

We recently interviewed Cobus Loots, CEO of Pan African Resources, a South African gold producer.

Investors may also want to read a different gold article or watch our latest gold interview.

We discuss:

  1. Operational Update
  2. Mining Difficulties In South Africa
  3. Big Plans For The Rest Of 2020

Company Website: https://www.panafricanresources.com/

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

The Pan African Resources Logo.

Integra Resources (TSX-V: ITR) – A Renowned Team And Exciting Drill Results

A gold tinted photo of some US$100 bills and a pile of gold coins with a white Crux Investor logo in the top right, and a white Integra Resources logo in the top left.
Integra Resources Corp.
  • TSX-V: ITR
  • Shares Outstanding: 119.6M
  • Share price CAD$1.25 (20.02.2020)
  • Market Cap: CAD$150M

We recently conducted an interview with George Salamis, President & CEO of gold-silver explorer, Integra Resources Corp.

We regularly discuss interesting gold market proceedings on this platform. Check out one of our other recent gold company interviews, or maybe some of our recent informative gold investment articles.

The management team at Integra Resources is the former executive team of Integra Gold Corp, renowned for turning a C$15M gold company into a C$590 million (sold to Eldorado in 2017). What have they got this time around? We discussed:

  1. The share price increase: doubled in less than a year.
  2. Its flagship asset purchased from Kinross Gold Corp. in 2017.
  3. Promising drill results in 2019.
  4. Exploration plans for 2020.

We were also keen to ask why a gold-producing giant like Kinross Gold Corp. would sell its gold-silver asset to Integra Resources unless it was a dud? We explored some very impressive drill results and big plans for 2020. Do shareholders have a reason to get excited? With these results and a management team with such an impressive track record, maybe they do…

Company Website: https://www.integraresources.com/

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

A gold tinted photo of some US$100 bills and a pile of gold coins with a white Crux Investor logo in the top right, and a white Integra Resources logo in the top left.

China Gold Int (TSX: CGG) – Gold And Copper On A Grand Scale

A photo of a silhouette hand picking out a gold Chinese ring.
China Gold International Resources Corp.
  • TSX: EQX
  • Shares Outstanding: 113.5M
  • Share price C$12.6 (21.02.2020)
  • Market Cap: C$1.43B

We recently sat down for an intriguing interview with Jerry Xie, Executive Vice President and Corporate Secretary of China Gold International Resources Corp. (TSX: CGG, HKSE: 2099).

Investors may want to read one of our most recent gold-related articles, or even watch a different gold interview.

Gold had a good year and an especially positive 2H/19. However, China Gold Int. had a negative correlation on its share price throughout 2019. The company operates two producing gold mines that form a low-grade, bulk-tonnage gold operation with a copper by-product. The operational statistics look good on paper, so why this share price tail-off? We discuss:

  1. The Decline In Share Price: Why?
  2. The Gold Market Outlook For 2020
  3. How China Gold Int. Plans To Get The Share Price Back Up

Company Website: http://www.chinagoldintl.com/

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

A photo of a silhouette hand picking out a gold Chinese ring.

Equinox Gold (TSX: EQX) – The Sum of the Parts Sets it Apart.

A graph of rising gold bars with a red arrow curving up them.
Equinox Gold Corp.
  • TSX: EQX
  • Shares Outstanding: 113.5M
  • Share price C$9.73 (29.02.2020)
  • Market Cap: C$1.1B

We recently interviewed Christian Milau, CEO of large-cap gold producer, Equinox Gold (TSX: EQX). CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

Equinox Gold Corp.

Equinox Gold is a story most gold investors should be familiar with: it is the model of how to build a gold producer in a short timeframe. This gold producer has had a remarkable rise over the past 18 months. Its share price hovered around C$5 at the start of 2019 and rose to heights of C$13.54 this year.

However, this week has seen even successful gold producers, like Equinox Gold, have their share prices brought to a shuddering halt, and even drop back. Equinox Gold’s share price has fallen this week alone from C$13.34 to C$9.73; this has been a truly extraordinary and noteworthy week of panic selling of a commodity that has been traditionally positioned and heralded as a ‘safe haven.’ It seems that truism isn’t true.

Let’s try to look to the world before the Coronavirus and hopefully the world after it. I know that may seem like a casual, almost dismissive statement, but it is not meant to be. There is clearly great global concern about the near-term impact on society and business, and possibly in the light of the current media spotlight, a normal future seems implausible, but history tells us that we humans persevere, adapt and survive, and we will again.

So let’s look to the future, if we may.

Equinox Gold was listed around 2 years ago, with the prodigious Ross Beaty as the main shareholder; if you are familiar with the school of ‘Bet on Beaty Bets’ investing, it will be no surprise to see Equinox Gold doing so well. Its founding goal was to become a multi-jurisdiction, large-cap, low-grade, bulk-tonage gold mining company.

Assets

Equinox Gold has a promising portfolio of assets:

  1. Mesquite Gold Mine, a Californian project producing 125,000-145,000oz gold per annum with an AISC of US$930-$980/oz and a grade of 0.46g/t gold (exclusive of reserves)
  2. Aurizona Gold Mine, a Brazilian gold mine producing 75,000-90,000oz per annum with inferred Resources of 1.1Moz @ 1.98g/t gold (with an exploration upside) and an AISC of US$950-$1,025
  3. Castle Mountain Gold Mine, an under-construction gold mine with a PFS and production potential of 200,000oz per annum and a 16-year life-of-mine (LOM)
  4. A copper-focussed spin-out operation in the form of Solaris Copper Inc.

Our Interview

Milau covered a variety of topics. Equinox Gold’s targets have been well and truly delivered. Mesquite and Aurizona are up and running, producing at a reasonable scale with a good AISC. Castle Mountain should be ready to rock by Q3/20.

These have not been without their hiccups; after all, this is mining. Equinox Gold has, however, kept things simple and it is reaping the rewards. The portfolio is focussed. The management team has created a relentless mining business for low-grade bulk processing. Equinox Gold’s message is simple: make strong acquisitions, then get that gold out of the ground!

Equinox Gold's Corp.'s share price for the last year.
Despite a late tail-off, what a year for Equinox Gold!

Equinox Gold has a significant 11% insider ownership: another reassuring fact for investors. The management team has succeeded in attracting a diversified shareholder base since the last time we spoke with Milau.

Milau also discussed Equinox Gold’s spending strategy and his view on the gold macro environment. What does the outlook for the gold market look like for 2020? He states this is only the beginning of this new gold cycle. He is conscious it won’t all be plain sailing in the gold sector, but this is in the early stage of the turn (US$17T of negative-yielding debt, solid stock markets and slowing global growth). Is the best really yet to come? Gold investors will be breathing heavily and hoping for more.

Equinox Gold has no intention of being taken out, and why would it? The company plans to become a long-term investment opportunity that can last through several cycles. Equinox Gold has had great momentum for those seeking fast returns, but it now also looks supremely appealing to those looking for steadier returns. Could it be a dividend payer in the next 2-3 years? Milau suggest so, but that is a long way away, and markets change. Let’s focus on today. Can that share price continue to grow at the same rate?  

As a gold producer, Equinox Gold has the rising gold price working in its favour, should the price continue on its recent trajectory. Can the management team start to accumulate cash, given they have been buying ounces in the ground? We appreciate Milau’s pragmatic take on gold margins: Equinox Gold is not rushing to produce and there is no spike in production. Equinox Gold is managing a steady, structured increase. However, the markets often don’t reward pragmatism and sensible management decisions. They often prefer pie in the sky stories of twenty-baggers and miracle proprietary technology. The fact the market has latched onto Equinox Gold with such excitement is a testament to just how solid this project seems to be. 1Moz per annum of gold is impressive, but this degree of investor enthusiasm is rare to say the least.

To continue on this trend of growth, Equinox Gold will proceed to develop its current assets and look at new acquisitions when the time is right. On the 28th January, Equinox Gold announced a merger with Leagold Mining Corporation that will combine the companies, ‘creating one of the world’s top gold producing companies operating entirely in the Americas.’ This should position Equinox Gold even more strongly.

one of the world’s top gold producing companies operating entirely in the Americas

Equinox Gold has recently received Serabi Gold’s C$14M payment for the Coringa project in Brazil, as it targets becoming a 1Moz per annum producer.

As far as remuneration, one of our favourite elements of the story, Milau stated that Equinox Gold has continued with its directors’ remuneration policy of paying them mainly shares. Milau claims he hasn’t cashed any in yet, but we can’t see any reason why he’d want to.

A photo of a Seal with a sign saying 'yes.' The words seal of approval are written underneath.
We Are Big Fans Of The Equinox Story

Equinox Gold is an anomaly. It is an abnormal story of inspired management, favourable prices, excellent assets and, as is always the case in mining, luck. We expect Equinox Gold to keep delivering on its promises for shareholders; the team has shown us nothing to make us believe otherwise. No, they don’t pay us and no we don’t own any shares. In an industry of over claiming and under delivering, we see Equinox Gold as company that does what it says.

Company Website: https://www.equinoxgold.com/

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

A graph of rising gold bars with a red arrow curving up them.

I <3 geology, I <3 Ecuador

A photo of some colourful wooly hats.

In June 1991 I was unlocking my bicycle after my last first-year exam in geology at the University of Manchester when a bubbling surge of happiness stopped me in my tracks and made me look up and smile and just take it all in. I couldn’t believe that I had gone through my life until then without knowing what I had been taught in my first year of geology. It had opened my mind to new concepts of time and space, fascinating processes of rock and mineral formation, and also of how geology had influenced human activity through millennia. It had been a revelation, hard work, and a lot of fun. For me, the study of the science of the earth had shone a light onto politics, economics, the environment, climate change and of course the role of mineral deposits in the development of man. As I stood there, bicycle lock in hand, I thought how amazing the world was, and how much I loved this subject that I had come across by chance when I had mistakenly started an engineering degree.

Twenty-nine years later I am happy to say that my love of geology is still there. While the digital age thunders on, with apps and memes, full of ideas on a high-tech future, full of concerns about sustainability and climate change, geology is as relevant as ever and it still captures my imagination. As it was in my revelatory moment back in Manchester, so it seems to me that many of the key issues of the age are met in the exploration and development of mineral deposits. Is this too gushing¸ a case of hyperbole?  I argue that it is not an exaggeration, and that a look at the extraordinary events in Ecuador will help you share my appreciation.

The Ecuador national flag

Ecuador has it all. All of the issues, all of the challenges, all of the opportunities and all of the natural resources it might need to make a transformation. And I see this on a daily basis as I am a director of Salazar Resources, a proudly Ecuadorian Gold-Copper exploration and development company.

Ecuador is a traditionally socialist country that until recently had economic policies that deterred foreign direct investment in the mining sector. In 2007 the country trumpeted its eco-tourism and promoted a green economy, which was all well and good, apart from the fact that the country soon ran out of money. And in a dollarized economy (since 2000), printing is not an option which just leaves borrowing, inward investment or foreign export earning as potential sources of US dollars. In 2008, Ecuador borrowed $6.5 billion from China, with repayments partially based in Ecuadorian oil and terms negotiated at times of historic high oil prices.  While the oil price was strong, everything seemed fine, but commodity prices are cyclical and the cycle turns as inexorably as the arrival of taxes and death. Oil prices to 2014 had covered up the multiple sins of an inefficient public sector, large macroeconomic imbalances, and limited private investment, but eventually the oil price fell. As the new oil price reality bit, and growth opportunities in Ecuador (oil, agriculture, tourism) were remarkable by their absence, the government reassessed its attitude towards mining.

Maybe the 2008 moratorium on all mining was overkill? Maybe a subsequent imposition of a 70% windfall tax and mechanisms for 50% national ownership were deterrents on investment? Maybe the rampant illegal mining sector that paid no taxes and was completely unregulated in areas of environmental monitoring safety or any degree of social governance, should be brought under control? Maybe it would be better to have foreign direct investment to build a regulated, responsible mining industry that employs thousands, grows domestic economic capacity, pays royalties and taxes and earns hard currency? Maybe the mining sector in Ecuador should be nurtured not shunned? Maybe the remarkable geological endowment should be used to help build a better nation for the people?

An ineluctable truth emerged. Ecuador needed a modern mining industry to pay for its social and infrastructure agenda.  There were no other options, no other cards to play. And so reform was embraced.  Consultants helped create a plan for the Ecuadorian mining industry that led to bidding rounds by metal and by region, and critically the development of a new mining code.  The government introduced similar conditions to other countries, including incentives such as a fiscal stability agreement, VAT reimbursements and investment recovery before taxes kicked in. The results were astonishing.

A photo of copper-gold ore.
Copper-gold ore

Geology is apolitical, and copper-gold mineralisation doesn’t necessarily stop at a political border. Ecuador straddles some of the most prolific copper-gold geology on the planet and since the dawn of modern mineral prospecting it has experienced negligible systematic exploration. Almost uniquely for a peaceful country there are still walk-up large-scale high-grade deposits sitting at surface. When the government signalled it was serious about developing a modern mining industry, the world’s resources companies responded.

Almost overnight, Ecuador became a global mining investment destination. Foreign direct investment (“FDI”) surged to more than $250 million per year in 2017, with a projected $1 billion per year for the next four years. Over 200 new mining concessions were granted in 2017, accompanied by investment commitments of nearly $500 million of exploration expenditure in the first four. Since 2018, twenty-eight internationally renowned mining companies have established entities in Ecuador to pursue investment opportunities. Not only that but in 2019 two billion-dollar investments were completed, and the country now has two well-regulated, carefully monitored mines, employing thousands of local people, and generating vital foreign exchange earnings by producing copper at Mirador, and gold at Fruta del Norte.

Unsurprisingly there has been a backlash to this level of activity. A prominent anti-mining activist Carlos Perez has changed his name to Yaku Perez (Yaku is the Quechua word for water) and is vehemently opposed to foreign investment in the Ecuadorian mining industry, even though he turns a blind eye to the devastatingly destructive illegal mining in the country. Yaku regularly calls for referenda on the future of mining projects in Ecuador and he will continue to delay and obstruct the industry where he can as he persists in his argument that Ecuador should be pro-water and anti-mining. Incidentally, most professionals in the mining industry are supporters of clean water, responsible employment, wealth creation, the sustainable supply of vital raw materials and are not supporters of water pollution, environmental degradation, dangerous working conditions, tax evasion and all of the problems associated with illegal mining.

Another factor is that the population of Ecuador is split between those wanting jobs and those experiencing a very human resistance to change. What does a large mine entail? Will dastardly miners raze mountains, and bury villages under toxic waste? Some fear the rapid introduction of a new industry; others have the luxury of working closely with some of the many in-country professionals and learning first-hand about the industry. Suddenly the Chamber of Mines in Ecuador went from a clubby outfit to needing to assist the government and a population learn about the role and importance of a well-regulated mining industry in society.

Predictably, some of the mining companies gamed the system. Companies bid to spend $250 million on a single exploration licence (a ludicrously large amount) over four years, only to load the vast majority of the spend into Year 4 and then make it conditional on material success in the under-funded years 1-3. Companies committed to investing multiples of their market capitalisation in early-stage exploration within a 4-year period. Stuff and nonsense perhaps, but given that it seems easier to find a near-surface deposit in Ecuador then other parts of the world, many companies were enable by the vagueness of the new mining code to put placeholders on title in the rush.

Stunned by the whirlwind of real and promised FDI, protest referenda, the arrival of most of the major mining companies, and by the general pace of events, the government closed the Mining Cadastre in 2018. The commitment to a modern mining industry is as strong as it has ever been, supported by public pronouncements, progressive changes to process and structure within the mining ministry, and of course, the stark reality of ongoing national budget deficits. But it was a case of too much too quickly. The cadastre is still closed as the government is redesigning the mineral title permitting process to make the exploration expenditure more accountable, transparent and digital. No new licences have been issued for eighteen months and although in that time wrinkles in environmental permitting and water use permitting have been ironed out, there has been a knock-on delay in exploration activity. It does mean, however, that those companies that already have a licence portfolio are at an advantage over new entrants looking to build a presence in-country.

Which brings me full circle, to that moment when I was standing outside the exam hall in Manchester so long ago. The study of the science of the earth continues to shine a light onto politics, economics, the environment, climate change and of course the role of mineral deposits in the development of man. I am just as excited and fascinated by the interdisciplinary nature of my subject as I was as an undergraduate, and each of those competing and complimentary aspects are manifest in the gloriously complex reality of the mining industry today in Ecuador.

Companies, such as Salazar Resources, that already have mineral title to explore have a wonderful opportunity to continue the discovery journey (discovery of an economic resource is always much more of a process than a single moment in time). Community relations and environmental stewardship are critically important, and those enterprises that can bring its local and regional population along the discovery journey with them will succeed where companies that fail to engage, encourage, and educate its neighbours will face protest and delay. The government understands the vital developmental and economic role that a responsible mining industry offers and it is working as fast as it can to create the framework for that industry to grow, and yet it is weighed down by the responsibility of having to make decisions now that will have long-lasting effects. It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of the nation depends on it. The officers and directors of companies that I know are genuinely excited about the positive transformation that a single well run mine can make to individuals, families, a community, a region, and the contribution that it makes to nation-building in a relatively small economy. And within it all there are the pure geologists among us, thrilled at the prospect of being part of a team that will make the next big discovery and bring vital commodities for our future needs to market.

Company Website: www.salazarresources.com

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

A photo of some colourful wooly hats.

Pan African Resources (LSE: PAF) – A Gold Producer That’s Movin’ On Up

A photo of Pan African Gold CEO, Cobus Loots.

We recently interviewed Cobus Loots, CEO of South African gold-producer Pan African Resources (AIM:PAF). CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

A Decisive, Ambitious Team

One thing that has become very clear after conducting several interviews with Loots is that the Pan African Resources management team gets things done.

Mining is never easy. Mining in South Africa is even harder, but the management team consistently hit their targets.

Pan African Resources is well on its way to becoming a mid-tier gold producer. The team is targeting a solid 185,000oz of gold this year.

Loots ran us through the highs and lows of the last 6 months, including the recently released operational update.

The key highlights from the update?

  1. Pan African Resources is on track to deliver the full-year production guidance of 185,000oz.
  2. Group gold sales increased by 14.7% to 92,941oz (2018: 81,014oz).
  3. The Evander 8 Shaft Pillar project development is progressing according to plan, with steady-state production planned from March 2020.

We’re big fans of the tailings slant on the business because green is very fashionable right now. Some of the best companies we’ve interviewed recently have figured out a way to slot into the green narrative effectively.

Barberton Tailings Retreatment Plant produces a steady stream of gold, c. 25,000oz per annum, and the Shaft Pillar at Evander, an area of developmental focus in the near future for Pan African, could provide 20,000oz, rising to 30,000oz+ “in the years ahead.”

Pan African Resources is now mining more economically, courtesy of a strategy modification: mining at the shaft rather than at deeper levels. The result is an intended sub-US$1,000 AISC for the Pillar project. Solid numbers, and in line with the rest of Pan African’s other operations.

Elikhulu Tailings Retreatment Plant has had a mining feasibility study conducted that is now being independently vetted by a third party, with the view to expand it to a full feasibility study. Loots says it looks like c. 90,000oz per annum, with a 9-year life-of-mine, rising to 20 years with further resource modeling.

By utilising assets with existing infrastructure, Pan African Resources can keep costs down and get things going quicker. This is still a little way off but could be a good addition to the portfolio.

In terms of dividends, Pan African Resources recently released its first dividends for years. Loot states the company was recently one of the highest yielding gold dividend shares in the world, and that is the direction he wants to go in this time round. Let’s see how things turn out.

For now, it’s full speed ahead developing the projects, overcoming issues pertaining to jurisdiction, community and environment difficulties, and getting the share price where investors will no doubt want to see it.

Feel free to check out the full in-depth interview on YouTube. Don’t forget to comment and subscribe. If you have any questions for Cobus Loots, comment below!

Company page: https://www.panafricanresources.com/

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

A photo of Pan African Gold CEO, Cobus Loots.

Serabi Gold (LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI) – A Big Step Forward?

A cartoon man, dressed in a shirt and tie, cuts himself free from the shackles of debt.
SERABI GOLD
  • LSE: SRB
  • Shares Outstanding: 58.91M
  • Share price GB£0.76 (21.01.2020)
  • Market Cap: GB£44M

Gold is a hot commodity at the moment, and promising juniors like Brazil-based gold exploration and production company Serabi Gold have been a central focus for many investors. Serabi Gold has been trying to create a positive outcome for investors from its debt situation for over a year. However, according to today’s press release, they seem to have reached a solution. What sort of package has been formulated and how will this impact investors?

The Background

With gold now sitting at c. $1560/oz, many gold companies reaped the rewards and performed reasonably well last year. However, Serabi’s trebled share price in less than 6 months during 2019 is something of an anomaly; it seems to dispute the notion that Serabi Gold has simply benefited from a good year for gold, or has just recovered well from the sale of shares from two key investors. There appears to be more to this story.

In terms of productions figures, last year Serabi Gold broke the 40,000oz mark for the first time ever with grades of well over 6g/t from Palito Gold Mine. In addition, 5 out of their last 6 quarters have seen them reach 10,000oz. This level of consistent, strong performance is rare in junior mining companies; most trip over many hurdles before attaining stable productivity.

Serabi seems to have hit the ground running, and with the imminent introduction of an ore-sorter that is currently being calibrated on-site, Serabi will hope to see its production capacity increase further. This will be courtesy of liberated processing space at their plant. The ore-sorter will reduce the amount of ore going into the processor, and increase gold output, to see a 10-15% rise in production with the equivalent rise in mining costs but no increase in production cost.

A photo of Serabi Gold's Palito Gold Mine
Palito Gold Mine

However, this is all a long way off. Serabi has been drilling at San Chico for 2 months, performing step-out drilling and extensions to current mine limits. Deep underground drilling and strike at surface drilling will continue into Q2. Geophysical anomalies first discovered in 2018 now finally have a drill rig assigned to them and a resource update is expected by the end of Q2. Investors will want to see the share price rise again.

If everything goes to plan, this means Serabi Gold could see an increase in its US$6-7M revenue to add to the US$14M cash that sits in its coffers at present. However, Palito can only take Serabi’s share price so far. In order to gain access to a higher-grade resource, increase production, and reduce its AISC, Serabi’s Coringa Gold Project needs to be brought into production. How will this financial restructuring free up the Serabi’s management team to make decisions in 2020?

The Debt Package

The encouraging story of Serabi Gold has always had something of an Achilles heel. Serabi’s debt to Sprott Lending Partnership, c. US$6.5M, and Equinox Gold Corp., US$12M, has been something of an elephant in the room.

We imagine one option Serabi may have considered would be the standard route of raising equity, but this isn’t the option they have taken; perhaps Coringa’s status, at a PEA stage without significant underground development, may have deterred some potential investors. The solution Serabi has opted for is US$12M of convertible notes with existing shareholder Greenstone Resources, which will enable them to pay back Equinox. The remaining debt owed to Sprott will be settled from cash reserves. The convertible loan is a flexible arrangement that enables Greenstone to be repaid via cash or shares at their own discretion. Based on the terms set out in their release, conversion of the convertible loan notes would see Greenstone’s stake in Serabi Gold potentially rise to 37.8%. Will large shareholders Megeve Investments be happy? Is this good for liquidity in the long run? We shall see.

Investors will be happy to see dilution warded off, but a convertible loan can still lead down this path at the end of the 16-month term.

Coringa – Full Speed Ahead

With this loan in place, Serabi Gold can now look to push forward with the development of Coringa. It has not just been an inability to spend that has held Serabi back on this front; the collapse of the Valé tailings dam, in Brumadinho, Brazil in January 2019, meant mining companies had to spend a great deal of 2019 adjusting their tailings plans to create safer, more environmentally friendly dry-tailings arrangements. Serabi were not immune from this requirement. This also delayed Coringa’s preliminary permit hearing, because of the need to complete a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

However, with the tailings issue resolved and payments to Sprott and Equinox settled, Serabi will no doubt look to replicate their success at Palito. On the face of things, this does appear to be a bit of a rinse and repeat story. Coringa is geophysically and metallurgically similar to Palito, but with a higher grade of 8.34g/t. This is reliable, consistent and relentless underground mining which is exactly what Serabi has been demonstrating for the last couple of years.

Serabi’s team says Coringa is close with their preliminary licence, a hearing scheduled for the 6th February. Serabi claims to have worked with the local community to ensure the project will run in an environmentally and socially sound manner; the indigenous communities in the area have signaled their approval for the development.

Serabi now has plenty to do; the management team is certainly going to be busy! They will likely use their freed-up cash flow to bring Coringa through to production by Q1/21, with the target of a combined, cross-mine AISC of c.$950. Investors will want to see eventual production double. Until then, it remains to be seen exactly how this debt arrangement pans out and if Serabi Gold has what it takes to get Coringa up and running. History would suggest they do, but this is mining. Let’s remain quietly upbeat. There’s a long way to go.

CLICK HERE to read the full press release.

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

A cartoon man, dressed in a shirt and tie, cuts himself free from the shackles of debt.

Salazar Resources (TSX-V: SRL) – The Very Model of a Major General

SALAZAR RESOURCES
  • TSX-V: SRL
  • Shares Outstanding: 126.48M
  • Share price CA$0.21 (21.01.2020)
  • Market Cap: CA$26.56M

I am concerned, when interviewing a CEO, if they are unable to clearly articulate their business plan. Call it an elevator pitch, call it a sales pitch, call it what you like, but if you, as a CEO, cannot tell me in less than 2 minutes what separates your business from the crowd and how I am going to make money, you’ve lost me; big red flag planted firmly in the ground and I am onto the next opportunity.

My other bugbear is when I think I am being misled or the CEO is avoiding answering the question directly. Very few people are smart enough to hide the childlike tells. The furtive look, the eyes searching into the distance hoping to find inspiration to be magically plucked from the air and the awkward squirming in their seat. Non-verbal communication and reading body language in all walks of life is important and accounts for so much of how people see you.

Sometimes it can be fun to set a trap for the CEO: ask a difficult question to which I already know the answer and see how the CEO responds. If it is a mistruth or even a small misdirection, I now know I cannot trust this individual to report properly. Another big, and in this case, terminal red flag.

We tend to begin our diligence from a standpoint that places the burden of proof on CEOs: we will not be giving you our money. It is their job to tell me why I am wrong and why I should. I’m looking for faults in their argument. It doesn’t take much, and I’m off. It’s my money. There are thousands of ways and places I can invest it, so why take a risk?

That brings me to Salazar Resources.

Salazar Resources, an Ecuadorian exploration company, has appointed Merlin Marr-Johnson as Director. A mercurially fabulous name! I’m already intrigued. We spoke to him. Mr. Marr-Johnson is British, very British, and demonstrably intelligent. We set about our task of finding reasons not to invest.

A black and white portrait photo of Merlin Marr-Johnson.
Merlin Marr-Johnson, Director of Salazar Resources

The first thing Marr-Johnson talks about is their business plan. They are gold-copper project developers in Ecuador and Colombia. They have just farmed out their first gold-copper-zinc asset, the El Domo Curipamba VMS (Volcanogenic Massive Sulfide) ore deposit discovery. The PEA conducted at the site shows an economically viable resource.

So, here is the clever bit. Salazar received a royalty payment, courtesy of an ongoing partnership with Adventus Mining Corporation. Adventus has the option to acquire 75% interest in the project by funding initial costs of US$25M over five years; they must provide 100% of the development and construction expenditures up to commercial production after the completion of a PFS (scheduled to be conducted in 2021). Salazar Resources earns US$250,000 per year in advance royalty payments up to a limit of US$1.5M. As operator, Salazar receives an additional 10% management fee (on some expenditures), standing at a minimum US$350,000 annually. Salazar also has the option to lease out 3 of their drills and is fully carried through at 25% with no additional capital outlay needed. Salazar Resources currently has c.$5M in the bank and with this additional reoccurring income and low overhead, Marr-Johnson believes that their exploration programme for this year is fully funded. Marr-Johnson takes time to apply a formula for investors to consider how to value the deal with Adventus. It’s reasonable and not wildly out of line with our numbers. So far, so good. I’m still listening.

Salazar has four other 100% interest options; three are in the form of Ecuadorian gold/ copper/VMS assets with exploration licences: Rumiñahui, a 2,910 hectare exploration licence that hosts gold/copper porphyry targets; Macara Mina, a 1,807 hectare exploration licence that hosts VMS targets; and Los Osos, a 229 hectare exploration licence that features a system of gold/silver veins, combined with hydrothermal breccias and mineralised gold/copper porphyries. Salazar Resources also holds 100% interest in a drill company, Perforaciones Andesdrill S.A, that owns three diamond drill rigs.

A diagram of a VMS deposit.
A VMS deposit diagram

Each asset is at a different stage of exploration or development, and each asset has had differing levels of mapping, soil geochemistry and rock-chip sampling conducted. However, when he spoke to us, Marr-Johnson provided some reasons for confidence. Salazar, in the shape of CEO and ex-Newmont in-country team leader, Fredy Salazar, has a ‘proven track record of discovery in Ecuador.’ In addition, the mining jurisdiction of Ecuador is seen by some to have a huge degree of untapped potential. The major mining companies have flooded into Ecuador in recent years, so there is clearly truth in Johnson’s claims regarding the unexplored nature of the geology. Ecuador could have a lot to offer for investors looking to invest in a region in its mining infancy.

We like the gold/copper/VMS side of the story, but the options keep on coming. Their joint venture with Adventus Mining Corporation was originally intended as a zinc exploration alliance. Adventus Mining was offered a stake in zinc-rich assets but instead opted for two different copper-gold (with some silver veins) sites: Santiago and Pijili. Adventus possesses 80% ownership but is required to fund all activities until a construction decision is made on any project.

So, what does this mean for investors?

Salazar Resources is funded for 2020: no dilution anytime soon. We like the look of their cookie-cutter approach to developing their portfolio of assets with minimal cash burn. If they can continue to replicate the Curipamba farm-out model, the numbers start to look very attractive. There is scale to this project. Marr-Johnson was keen to point out that Salazar does want to develop some of their own projects too.

A robust and, more importantly, refreshingly honest appraisal from Marr-Johnson. So far, no red flags, but this is mining. We are waiting for news on the water permit before we get too carried away, but if that comes, Salazar Resources is something that we can see ourselves investing in.

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

GET OUT NOW? WHY YOUR MONEY COULD BE IN DANGER

A picture of a map of West Africa. The Sahel region is highlighted with a yellow sign reading 'risk' in the centre.

If you are invested in mining companies that operate in West Africa, you could be about to lose your money. Here’s why you might need to get out while you still can.

We need to look out for each other as retail investors. We are the little guys in the world of investment. We don’t get access to insider knowledge. We don’t get a lot of information until it’s too late and our shares have gone down. Because of this, I’ve been acutely aware of a lack of investor-related coverage regarding a particular geopolitical situation that is growing more and more perilous by the day.

Many of my articles focus on exciting opportunities, but this one is of a much more sombre tone. Islamic terrorist attacks from a range of jihadist groups, including Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State splinter group, ISGS (Islamic State in the Greater Sahara), the homegrown jihadist movement, Ansar ul-Islam, and Boko Haram, to name but a few, have been occurring at increasing rates in the Sahel region. It has sparked a ‘new wave of extremist violence…destabilising…the vast and impoverished semi-arid region south of the Sahara. (1)’

A photo in the desert of armed fighters aiming an AK-47 assault rifle towards the camera, dressed in military-styled overalls.
The violence is an epidemic

The attacks usually take the form of hit-and-run raids on villages, schools and police stations; roadside IEDs and suicide bombings. In one of the most severely affected countries, Burkina Faso, attacks have taken nearly 700 lives since early 2015 (according to an AFP toll correct as of December 2019). In addition, around 500,000 people have been forced to flee their homes. Terror attacks in Burkina Faso tripled in 2018 to 150 (according to the US state department). Just last week, an IED attack on a bus in Toeni mainly carrying students back to their places of study after the New Year break killed 14 people. The week before, militants murdered 35 civilians, 31 of them women, in an attack on a military base and a town in Burkina Faso. 7 soldiers also lost their lives.

In a similarly horrendous instance last month, approximately 40km from Boungou Mine, Burkina Faso, an attack on a convoy transporting local employees of the company SEMAFO Inc. left 37 people dead and 60 wounded. This is devastating news for the community, the families and of course the country. These workers put themselves in grave danger in unstable jurisdictions in order to provide for their families, but at a cost.

Soldiers in Burkina Faso

This bloodshed was the third deadly attack on SEMAFO employees in the space of 15 months. In the following days, the market reacted by offloading SEMAFO shares: the share price plummeted and is down around 55% on Summer highs of CA$5.46. This is no temporary price drop and the situation in the region is only going to deteriorate further.

Investors need to hear the brutal truth about some companies: they are putting profits ahead of people’s lives. As an investor, this is not something I can stomach. Can you?

There are 8 countries that the UN, the French government and the UK foreign office amongst others say are most at risk from terrorist activity: Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania, Ghana, Togo and Benin.

As some SEMAFO investors may tell you, companies, their employees and their investors are in danger. There will be casualties in the markets; take gold, for example, an area of particular focus for Ansar ul-Islam amongst others:

  • In Mali, IAMGOLD’s Sadiola Mine (NYSE: IAG), Resolute Mining’s Syama Mine (ASX: RSG), Barrick Gold’s Morila Mine and Loulo-Gounkoto Mine (NYSE: GOLD), Hummingbird Resources’s Yanfolila Gold Mine (AIM: HUM) and Endeavour Mining’s Kalana Project (NYSE: EXK).
  • In Senegal, Teranga Gold Corporation’s Massawa Gold Project and Sabodala gold mine (TSX: TGZ).
  • In Burkina Faso, SEMAFO Inc. (TSX: SMF) has already brutally suffered, and companies like Nordgold may also be subjected to the risk of more bloodshed. The pits around Pama, Burkina Faso, have been taken over by terrorists, who rode in on pickup trucks with assault rifles causing local security forces to flee.
  • In Niger, Sahel Mining Company’s Djado Gold Property and other junior explorers in the south will face turmoil and aggression.
  • In Mauritania, Kinross Gold’s Tasiast Gold Mine (NYSE: KGC) and First Quantum’s  Guelb Moghrein (TSX: FM) face uncertainty.
  • In Ghana, AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi gold mine and Iduapriem gold Mine (JSE: ANG) and Golden Star Resources’ Wassa Gold Mine and Prestea Underground Gold Mine (NYSE: GSS)
  • In Togo, Premier African Minerals’ Dapaong Gold Mine (LON: PREM) and Gold Fields’ Damang (JSE: GFI).
  • Lastly, although most of the region is mined artisanally, some Benin-based exploration companies find themselves exposed.

These gold companies could be at risk. If you are invested, you should do your research to see if your money could be too. Imagine extrapolating this to the entire mining industry in the region...

Security firms are stating that the situation is now an epidemic. The violence is deadly and has ‘raised fears among European and US allies that the Sahel will become the next haven for fighters returning from Iraq and Syria, (2)’ particularly after the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late-October.

The ideology claiming to have caused these attacks has made its way from Libya to Mali via social media and is propagated by local extremists. The regional statistics provide a serious cause for alarm. ‘Over the last six months…the security situation in the Sahel has continued to deteriorate with a rising number of attacks against civilians and security forces. (2)’ Jihadis killed around 50 Malian soldiers at the start of November. Moreover, just a few weeks ago, ISGS militants ‘claimed responsibility for an attack on a military installation in western Niger near the border of Mali on Wednesday, which killed at least 71 people and left 12 injured. (3)’

Such violence now threatens to spill into the entire region. According to U.S. Department of Defence research group, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the number of violent attacks by Islamist extremist groups in the Sahel has doubled each year since 2016; deaths linked to these attacks have doubled each year.

…people are realising the failure of the strategy that has been used so far to fight violent extremism

Last month, the UN security council commented on the Sahel issue: ‘meeting recently in Dakar, regional Heads of State renewed their calls for a more robust mandate for the joint force.  “The situation in the Sahel is of serious concern and urgent action is needed.” (4)’

Throughout the region, ‘people are realising the failure of the strategy that has been used so far to fight violent extremism. (2)’

 The Sahel region (West Africa) has issues that could be in flux for the foreseeable future. There are three possibilities when it comes to the incentives for the terrorists:

A photo of ISGS militants in a desert holding assault rifles, ISGS flags and one holds a mobile phone, taking a photo.
ISGS militants
  1. Radical Islamic Terrorism

    This is how these attacks are being positioned by the national governments, mining companies and financial institutions. If this is the primary driver for terrorism in the Sahel, this is an unpredictable enemy devoid of moral human thought or logic. An idea is an incredibly difficult (maybe even impossible) foe to contend with.
  2. Tribal Warfare

    Though more of a prominent issue in central Africa, tribal attacks have a devastating impact on the Sahel. A tribal militia killed as many as 150 men, women and children in a village in central Mali in early June; at least 65 people remain unaccounted for. The raid appeared to be a reprisal for an attack carried out by a pro-government Dogon militia elsewhere in the Mopti region in March that killed 157 Fulani villagers.
  3. Criminal Enterprise (under the guise of ideology):

    This is perhaps the reality of the situation as it has been in some of the oil-producing countries. Terrorists are no longer uncivilised renegades lacking the infrastructure and finances to make big things happen. Terrorist cells the world over are incredibly well-financed, and have a worryingly high level of business acumen. They can monetise commodities in the black market. Groups like Al-Qaeda and ISGS are seizing control of mines, oil & gas facilities and pipelines, and are running their own operations, generating billions of dollars of income. While dealing with criminals is usually more straightforward, as these individuals have rational fears and value life, the ideology used to propagate such criminal activity is without rationality. Perhaps the heads of terrorist organisations are easier to combat than the brainwashed soldiers.

Whatever the driver and however it is dressed up by the companies, terrorists hold a tight grip over the Sahel region, and it is unlikely their stranglehold will be broken for the foreseeable future without involvement from external intervention, which in itself brings more problems.

Irrespective of the reasoned business aspect of Sahel terrorism, the perpetuation of the ideology propelling its success is now in danger of becoming generational. This has been building up for a decade without any meaningful intervention and the attacks are becoming more frequent and more violent. The political instabilities, and lack of organised security services throughout the region, render the countries almost helpless in the face of this brutal onslaught. Sooner than you want to believe, some of the companies (and their revenue) that we are invested in could be consumed and controlled by local terrorist groups.

Mining companies are going to tell you they’ve got this under control; they will tell you government forces or privately hired militia can quash the insurgents, but I am sceptical of these claims. Some attacks have featured hundreds of committed, fearless and well-armed terrorists. There is only so much small security teams can do to defend themselves against heavily armed militia with no regard for their own lives. The seemingly bottomless pit of brainwashed cannon fodder will be irrepressible until the idea itself is exterminated. Until then, why put your money on the line?

However, some companies have managed to mitigate the issues in the Sahel. There are three large American military bases towards the Sahara in central Niger, including the biggest American drone base in the world. The French also have a strong military presence in the country as a consequence of the 50 years of uranium production so critical to their energy and security needs. Uranium companies Global Atomic Corporation and GoviEx appear to have sufficient protection, because of their proximity to the military bases and the huge, barren, surrounding desert providing sufficient deterrent.

In addition, the criminal enterprise/tribal element becomes increasingly irrelevant. Terrorist groups are able to extract the value of assets with more simple commodities, such as gold or oil, via artisanal means. Uranium is one that is unlikely to be of interest to them, given the complexities and difficulty of extraction, refinement and sale. Because Niger is such an established uranium country, terrorists lack the economic infrastructure in the region to make things happen as effectively. Global Atomic and GoviEx should have no concerns.

For the remainder of companies who aren’t so lucky, it seems another fatal incident is imminent. This is not the type of volatility that has an upside.

On a final note, let’s take a look at the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel guidelines for many of the countries in the Sahel region:

SOURCE: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

If the government is advising against all travel in most of the region, you wouldn’t go there. If you wouldn’t go there, you have to consider whether you would send your money there.

You only have to take a look a SEMAFO’s press release after the incident to see the Sahel situation for what it truly is: an utter disaster, ‘Boungou mine site remains secured and our operations are not affected. (5)’ How on earth can SEMAFO claim their operations are unaffected: a number of their workforce have just been brutally murdered! How can they possibly expect future and existing workers to accept working somewhere they are shot at? Workers are not disposable. They need to be more responsible about the danger they are placing employees in, and the potential danger they are dragging your investment into.

It’s time we opened our eyes to some painful facts. There is significant risk inherent in investing in certain companies in this region, so investors should ensure that they have done their research and are comfortable with the true risk / reward return profile of their investments . There are much more stable jurisdictions to invest in after all.

(1) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/terror-and-security/islamic-state-warning-report-reveals-jihadists-slaughtered-250/

(2) https://www.ft.com/content/eae17a5c-021e-11ea-b7bc-f3fa4e77dd47

(3) https://www.foxnews.com/world/isis-terrorist-attack-niger

(4) https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/sc14027.doc.htm

(5) https://www.semafo.com/English/news-and-media/news-releases/news-releases-details/2019/SEMAFO-Attack-on-the-Road-Between-Fada-and-Boungou-in-Est-Region/default.aspx

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

A picture of a map of West Africa. The Sahel region is highlighted with a yellow sign reading 'risk' in the centre.