Serabi Gold (LSE:SRB, TSX:SBI) – A Business Model Investors Should Pay Attention To

The Serabi Gold PLC company logo.
Serabi Gold PLC
  • LSE:SRB, TSX:SBI
  • Shares Outstanding: 58.9M
  • Share price GB£0.96 (24.02.2020)
  • Market Cap: GB£56.6M

Crux Investor recently interviewed Michael Hodgson, CEO of Brazil-focussed gold producer/developer, Serabi Gold.

Why not read a different gold article, or even watch one of our latest gold interviews?

Serabi Gold has recently undergone an impressive transformation from a solid performer into a real contender. Hodgson chimed in to give us the details, and even more reasons to be excited for what the rest of 2020 has to offer.

We discuss:

  1. Operational Update
  2. Convertible Loan with Greenstone
  3. Outlook For Gold in 2020
  4. Serabi Gold Strategy For 2020

Company Website: https://www.serabigold.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 Serabi Gold PLC company logo.

Rio2 Ltd (TSXV: RIO) – Pragmatism Is Often Overlooked

The Rio2 Company Logo.
Rio2 Ltd.
  • TSXV: RIO
  • Shares Outstanding: 181.4M
  • Share price C$0.38 (24.02.2020)
  • Market Cap: C$68.9M

We recently sat down for a much-anticipated interview with Alex Black, President and CEO of gold developer, Rio2 Ltd (TSXV: RIO).

The management team has a good track record, but the market seems to have been deterred from Rio2 because of an adjustment to the company’s resource size. In its large feasibility study plan, Rio2 cut the scale of its gold resource in half: a lack of ambition, or sensible management? Watch and decide for yourself, though we lean towards the latter.

While you’re at it, why not read another gold article, or watch our latest gold interview?

We discuss:

  1. The Water Permitting Situation: A Temporary Solution?
  2. The Gold Market: How Does 2020 Look?
  3. CAPEX, Resource Size And Other Stats.

Company Website: https://www.rio2.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 Rio2 Company 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.

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.

Serabi Gold (LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI) – Double the Fun

A picture of a man wearing a suit in a grey room. He looks at a laptop and dollar bills are flying out towards him. He smiles with his arms raised triumphantly.
SERABI GOLD PLC
  • LSE: SRB
  • Shares Outstanding: 58.91M
  • Share price: GB£0.77(15.01.2020)
  • Market Cap: GB£45M

There is no doubting the last few years have been tough for gold mining explorers & developers, and mining investors. However, gold producers have seen an uptick in share price since the end of August 2019 and the price of gold emerged from the $1,200 doldrums. Some gold producers have done better than others and have broken away from the pack. Serabi Gold looks to have safely made that cut by more than trebling their share price since the lows of May 2019.

Serabi had a quiet if unspectacular time until mid-2018 until May. A small, high-grade, high-cost, underground South American mine doesn’t usual capture retail investors’ interests, but it was consistent in its output and didn’t encounter any production problems. However, despite having an experienced and lively management team, they were loaded with debt, low margins (if any), and were unable to raise funds cheaply; there were lots of reasons for investors to look elsewhere.

The big move in May was due the market finally seeing the data from the acquisition of another underground gold asset, Coringa Gold Project, which is near their core project, Palito Mining Complex. A break in the gold price in August saw a further resurgence of interest in Serabi Gold and in the share price. In addition, it became clear there could be an opportunity to restructure their debt. Investors became very interested.

The acquisition of Coringa is the game changer for Serabi. Not only will it reduce their AISC to nearer the magical $950 mark, but it also will double their production to c.80,000 oz pa. This small, sleepy gold producer is suddenly on the radar of institutional investors, which should drive volume of trading and solidify the shareholder register.

Today’s record production news caps off a great 2019 for Serabi. The company achieved its highest quarter gold production of the year, 10,223oz. This brings the total annual gold production to 40,101oz, a 7% improvement over the course of 2019.

The total mined ore for Q4 was 44,092oz, at a high-grade of 6.69g/t of gold. 44,794t of run of mine (ROM) ore was processed through Serabi’s plant (combining the Palito and Sao Chico orebodies) at an average grade of 6.81g/t. On the exploration side of things, a sizeable 2,908m of horizontal development was completed in Q4. Serabi has managed to optimise its assets at little detriment to its share price or cash position: the company sits at GB£0.78 on the LSE today (moving back towards 2019’s peaks of GB£0.89), and claims year-end cash holdings of US$14.3M.

In terms of infrastructure, Serabi has also seen great improvements; chief of them is the installation of an ore sorter (sited between the crushing and the milling sections), which entered its final stages at the end of 2019, beginning electrical and mechanical testing. Investors should take note of this. Based on similar ore sorter data, this could improve productivity by as much as 20%. That is significant economically.

A screenshot of a diagram of a sensor-based ore sorter.
A sensor-based ore sorter

Serabi’s step out drilling campaign at Sao Chico has significantly extended the resource beyond current mine limits. A projection of full year production for 2020 stands at 45-46,000oz: a further improvement on an already strong figure as systems continue to be optimised. Serabi Gold has been positively moving along with consistent results.

Rough Assessment Of Serabi’s Current Debt Situation

Serabi currently owes c.USD$12M to Equinox Gold Corp. and c.USD$7M to Sprott Resource Lending Partnership, which it agreed to pay back over 22 months, (30/09/18-30/06/20), in addition to providing 145,479 new ordinary shares of £0.10 each (a 10% discount to the closing price on 14 September 2018).

The company is going to need to give guidance as to how it plans to restructure this. We would imagine Sprott would roll over as Serabi has been consistent with their debt payments. There is cash in the bank to pay back Equinox, but either that gets deferred at the deference of Equinox, which we think unlikely, or Serabi replaces that with cheap debt, serviced by their much-improved net cash production. If this indeed proves to be the case, Serabi holders will not be diluted and should be satisfied with how management has performed for them this year. The big question is how many will take the opportunity to cash-in and who will replace them? I suspect that this is now attractive to institutional gold funds.

The Palito Mining Complex, a high-grade, narrow vein underground mine, is already producing good results with an AISC of US$1,078 per ounce. However, Serabi’s aim to bring that figure down below the $1,000 mark. This is where the Coringa Gold project comes in. Serabi acquired Coringa from Anfield Gold Corp. in December 2017 for US$22M, and they have plans to get in to Production by end of 2021. Coringa is far more than an option: the team at Serabi feel it has an almost identical setup to Palito in terms of geology, size and necessary mining operations.

An aerial drone shot of the Coringa Gold Mine in Brazil.
Coringa Gold Mine

Coringa has a higher grade than Palito, at 8.34g/t, with a total gold production of 288,000oz, and a life of mine standing at around 9 years. Typical fully-operational annual production should stand at 38,000oz. Corringa would require an initial capital investment of around US$25M prior to sustained positive cash-flow, followed by sustaining capital expenditures of around US$9M that would likely be funded by project cash-flow.

To continue developing Coringa, I expect to see a revised PEA to whet the market’s appetite. Once Coringa is up and running, an annual production average of 38,000 oz pa, in addition to an AISC of US$852, could create a quarterly net revenue of c. US$2.5M within 12-18 months. When combined with the US$1.5M of stable cash flow from Palito, Serabi Gold could be churning out a net profit of US$3.5M per quarter for years to come, and this is without Palito’s ore sorter’s impact on results being taken into account.

The sense in the market has always been that Serabi will aim to be a 100,000oz per year gold producer in the not so distant future; institutional investors will likely push for further acquisitions, as mentioned in a recent Crux Investor interview with Nicolas Banados, Managing Director of Family Office Megeve Investments and investor in Serabi Gold.

To conclude, Serabi is performing well. It has a clear plan to create a business with a cross-mine AISC, production level and revenue that investors will welcome. With permitting at Coringa continuing to progress (the date for the public hearing is set for 6 February 2020), this ambition is moving closer to reality, and assuming public and stakeholder support, this is the solid final step for Serabi before receipt of the Licencia Previa (the Preliminary License). My message to the company is more of the same please with both assets; show us success with the drill on your exploration targets. We are watching.

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 man wearing a suit in a grey room. He looks at a laptop and dollar bills are flying out towards him. He smiles with his arms raised triumphantly.

Family Office – Major Investor Megeve Investments, Nicolas Banados (Transcript)

A photo of a neat stack of gold bars with 'Serabi Gold' written across the photo.

Interview with Nicolas Banados, Managing Director of Family Office Megeve Investments and Investor in Serabi Gold (TSX:SBI)

Megeve Investments, a non-discretionary portfolio of Fratelli Investments Family Office, is a single-family office located in Santiago, Chile. Its main asset is Chilean retail chain colossus, Farabella. The firm offers asset management and public/private equity investment services. Banados is Managing Director of Private Equity and attorney-in-fact at Megeve Investments. His focus in on direct investment in Latin American companies.

Megeve Investment first invested in Serabi Gold 8 years ago, where Nicolas Banados now serves as the Non-Executive Director for the family office. Megeve Investment already owns a copper company and a gold company in Chile, in addition to a forestry (natural resource) company in Colombia.

Therefore, Serabi Gold sat in a familiar area of the industry and was in a prime position for Megeve Investments to obtain c.50% (now voluntarily diluted down to 32.8% after the 25.3% investment from Greenstone Resource II LP). While the timing of Megeve Investment’s involvement in Serabi Gold was far from ideal given the plummeting gold prices at the time, Banados is still glad he made the decision to invest.

In addition to working on efficiencies at current Serabi Gold operations, Banados is open to the idea of additional acquisitions, like the Coringa Mine, in the future, to further enhance the production capabilities of Serabi Gold and solidify its position as a seriously profitable player. Banados spends a great deal of time working with Serabi Gold to align their strategies, resulting in a more cogent business plan that reduces the risk and provides clarity for existing and prospective investors.

Banados’ primary source of excitement comes from the opportunity for growth and exploration in a huge, gold-saturated country: while Brazil is a developed mining country, particularly of iron ore, the gold marketplace is yet to be fully mechanised.

Moreover, Banados sees immense potential in organic and green-field areas to increase production towards the ‘magic’ 100,000oz/y number. Lastly, Banados touches on South American operations and clearly explains the company’s priorities lie in areas it has established a sense of comfort: Chile, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Paraguay. What did you make of Nicolas Banados? Are you intrigued by Megeve Investments’ involvement in the Serabi Gold story? Comment below.

Interview Highlights:

  • Megeve Investments: An Introduction. What Sectors Do They Focus On?
  • The Growth Component: How Does Serabi Gold Fit Their Portfolio?
  • Working with Serabi Gold on Increasing Production Capabilities
  • Future for Serabi and Their Investment: Was it the Right Choice?
  • Operating in South America: Positives and Negatives

Click here to watch the full interview.


Matthew Gordon: We are with with Nicolas Banados. He is an investor in Serabi Gold, the AIM listed gold producer. Thanks for joining us here in London. You normally work in South America.

Nicolas Banados: I’m usually based in Santiago, Chile. I travel around Latin America doing our investments in Chile, Peru, Colombia and Brazil.

Matthew Gordon: We’re really pleased to have you here because Family Offices are more and more an important part of the mining investment scene. We’re delighted to be talking to you today to try to understand how Family Offices think. Tell us just a little bit about the group.

Nicolas Banados: Megeve Investments, is the manager of Fratelli. It’s a single-family office. It’s a Chilean family which its main asset is a Latin-American retailer called Farabella. It has department stores, shopping centres, financing consumer loans and supermarkets, it’s a little bit of everything in the whole region. And we manage their other investments, we have public equities, debt, private equity globally, but with a strong focus to Latin America, which is our market. I run the private equity division of the company. We have a five-person team. We mostly do direct investments in companies in Latin America. We operate in Chile, Peru, Colombia and Brazil. Only those countries.

Matthew Gordon: I think you’re being quite modest. It’s a very large group.

Nicolas Banados: It’s an important group.And one of the things that you probably know about family office, is that we don’t disclose numbers.

Matthew Gordon: You started in retail. That’s where the wealth comes from, from a long time. Over 100 years ago, right?

Nicolas Banados: Yes. 120 years.

Matthew Gordon: But you have migrated and morphed into other things.

Nicolas Banados: The family still owns their retailer. They are still active there. I work with the second generation of the family. They are still one of the three brothers. One is still the executive chairman of the retailer. So, what we do here is we want to diversify the family into other businesses, not retail. So, I’m forbidden to do any retail related investment. So, we mostly do traditional industries, mature like mining, infrastructure or real estate. We have a cemetery company. We have a host of investments that we did recently. We have some technology infrastructure businesses as well.

Matthew Gordon: You’re spreading far and wide. Mitigating the retail risk.

Nicolas Banados: Not only to mitigate the risks, but all also to avoid conflict because retail is so important in Chile and Brazil and Peru and Colombia, that any retail investment that we do might have a conflict, so we want to avoid any conflict.

Matthew Gordon: May I talk about the natural resource space? You have got other investments in South America. Where does Serabi Gold sit in that portfolio? Was it one of the latest or earliest or…

Nicolas Banados: Well we have been Serabi Gold or eight years now. In natural resources, we have three mining companies, including Serabi Gold. So, we have another copper company and a gold company in Chile. We have forestry which sits within natural resources in Colombia. That was a Greenfield project. And power which is not a natural resource, but it’s related to in some way. I would say in all these projects we have been investing in the last 15 years. I’ve been with the company 15 years. We have always grown the company and built something. Sometimes like the forestry investment, we build it from scratch. In others like Serabi Gold and the other mining companies, we built a project that was already there, and we funded to build it, the construction of the plant or development of the mine or whatever it is.

Matthew Gordon: These are growth stories you’re looking for. That’s where you get the capital appreciation. Your money is long-hold, long-term money in that you will follow your money and give it a chance to grow, to breathe and become something.

Nicolas Banados:  Exactly. We’re not a fund, so we don’t have to exit. As long as we see a growth story continue. So, sometimes we have investments that have lasted for 25 years. Other investments have lasted all of 3 or 4 years.

Matthew Gordon: Got it. On more of a private equity type investment. But in that growth story, you’re looking for a revenue to start. That’s important to you.

Nicolas Banados: Yes.Within the initial investment that we do and the follow on or the M&A that the company that we’re investing in will do, we always look for, let’s say, projects that can be built just like the hot potato game. This is not what we do.

Matthew Gordon: It’s not a promotional thing.

Nicolas Banados: Not a promotional thing. We just want to make sure that whatever we buy, it’s something that could be built, generate revenues and positive cash flow.

Matthew Gordon: It’s safe to say when you invested in Serabi Gold, you knew what you were getting into. A space you understood, in a jurisdiction you understood and a story which you felt met the criteria which you’ve just outlined.

Nicolas Banados: When we invested initially in Serabi Gold in 2011 when the company IPO’d in Canada, we met Mike Hodgson and Clive Line, the CEO and the CFO. And what we did initially is that they had this project and we wanted to know more. Our initial funding was $200,000 and we funded the PEA of Palito. We funded the project with the objective of after getting that study, if the study was positive, then we will fund the CapEx of the project. So, that’s actually what happened after a few months, it took like 6-months, we received the study, it looked pretty good. So, we funded the CapEx. We went to the market a little bit. It was not so easy to market at that time. The project was built on budget on time. So, in some way the management built a track record with us, which was very important for us. Then we, Serabi Gold, bought a neighbouring project again. We liked it. We said OK we’ll fund the CapEx again. The market still was not so good. Well, that’s what we have been doing. Both are operating today. And then we started to look at other funding sources because we want other people to fund it as well.

Matthew Gordon: I think it’s safe to say that the market has been quite quiet for juniors or producers under a certain level for the last 6-years. You’ve given the chance for the company to survive, because you have a different mentality from institutional money, which needs to see revenues, returns or share price appreciation.

Nicolas Banados: I would say we funded it because, of course there is always the risk of the gold price, but assuming a conservative gold price, we said this investment that we are making, it will have a return regardless of the market, other than gold price. So, we felt confident that the share price can go up or down, but the cash flow would be there. We want to see growth over time, but we want the companies to deliver safe growth. So, it has to grow, but with conservative assumptions. We want Serabi Gold to grow and build other projects and merge with other ones that continue to work. Because in this industry being bigger, it scales the company up, the economics of scales, and reduces costs, that’s important.

Matthew Gordon: You’ve just got your second asset, which the guys are working out how to mine efficiently at the moment, that should double production That takes you towards 100,000oz pa number which everyone wants to see. Your view is that if there are other assets available, that you would encourage the team to consider some kind of acquisition or joint venture etc. that’s your mentality.

Nicolas Banados: Yes, as we have done in the past. We started with Palito, and then we bought Sao Chico, then we bought Coringa. We also see a very good opportunity for organic growth that can be done in parallel of these more inorganic…

Matthew Gordon: So how do you work with the team then? And are you sitting on the side-lines shouting at them?

Nicolas Banados: I sit on the board.We talk often. They run the company.

Matthew Gordon: Do they have the same mentality. Do you want to work at different speeds? Or do you have joined up thinking?

Nicolas Banados: We spend a lot of time aligning the strategy. It’s not that we get to a board meeting and they say one thing and I say the other. That doesn’t happen.

Matthew Gordon: You’re heading in the same direction.

Nicolas Banados: We head in the same direction. There is another board member from Fratelli called Eduardo. He’s a mining engineer and he has worked with Mike before Serabi Gold, other than Greenstone that also brings a strong mining experience. But we talk often, we visit, we help with the local knowledge. Mike knows Brazil very well but having a Latin American investor that can bring help with their banks, with other things and the culture, it helps.

Matthew Gordon: Your view is there’s some way to go on this. You’re happy with the way that the growth has gone, its cash flowing, it’s producing. What is the picture in your head about where Serabi Gold is heading?

Nicolas Banados: Brazil, it’s developed in terms of mining and developed in terms of iron ore, some other minerals, but not much in terms of gold. So, there is a huge opportunity for growth, exploration. It’s probably going to be more brownfield, greenfield projects, not that much because there are not many projects that we can just acquire operating producers. But there is a huge opportunity. It’s a big country with a lot of gold and we have the opportunity there, so we want to grow. Probably I would like to see that faster. But more than that, I would like the products to be delivered, to do it right, is more important. But if we can go faster, then that’s good news for me.

Matthew Gordon: Your team has known Mike for a long time and Mike knows Brazil and you’re heading in the same direction. The path forward all sounds rosy. But at some point Megeve will to monetize this.

Nicolas Banados: When Greenstone came in,we diluted because we thought it was not good for the company that one shareholder owned 50% or more to sell. And so, we decided to dilute, even though it was not the price that I wanted but we decided it was good for the company. Actually, it happened to be a good thing. So, in the future, we’ll probably dilute a little bit more. The company has to be seen as an independent company, it’s definitely not run by us. I’m in Chile. I come here, I can go to Brazil, but I am definitely not running the company. It’s run by Mike and Clive and the rest of the board and the management. And that’s what we believe is the company. And so, we can continue to support the company and we will continue to support the company. But we want also to have more liquidity to open spaces for other people.

Matthew Gordon: Do you think that you made a good investment decision and investing in Serabi?

Nicolas Banados: Yes. The initial investment, the timing of the market at that time was not the best. We were investing when the gold price was $1,800. So, and then it went down to $1,100. Who knew that would happen. Nobody. But I would do it again, definitely because we still see there is a huge opportunity ahead of us.

Matthew Gordon: Do you think they can become a mid-tier producer?

Nicolas Banados: Yes. And I think that Serabi’s also getting the attention of a lot of miners and when a gold company, mid or large cap, want to enter in Brazil. Who are the players there? There are not many. Who has built a mine in the last 5-years other than Serabi Gold. Or one or two?

Matthew Gordon: Not successfully.

Nicolas Banados: So, we havein some way we’ve become a target.

Matthew Gordon: Could you give us a bit of an overview of operating in South America? I know you operate in specific countries and South America, so again some of the questions that we get asked about, especially from AIM. North American investors are comfortable with South America. They know it, travel there, they holiday there etc. Europeans have seen some difficult times in South America.

Nicolas Banados: There are countries in which we do operate and others that we don’t. I would say only the one’s that we do – Brazil of course, Chile is another one, Peru and Colombia and we have one investment in Paraguay. So, we don’t do the other ones. In those countries we feel comfortable about safety. I can travel to those countries. I don’t feel comfortable traveling to some of the other countries. I can travel, I can do business.

Matthew Gordon: Tell me about Brazil, because this is about Serabi Gold, we’re talking about today and the fact that you’ve invested in them. So, Brazil, again, had a bit of a strange few years politically. Bit up and down economically.

Nicolas Banados: All the politics in Brazil happens in Sao Paolo and Rio and Brasilia. We are far from that. We are not in Sao Paulo. We are not in Rio. We’re not in Brasilia, we are not in the cities. We are up north in Parastate. It’s a remote location for business people, but it’s a very good infrastructure for a mining project. And we are very well received because there is not a lot of activity other than agriculture and forestry in that area. And so, we are very well received by the people, by the authorities, because they want new investment in this area.

Matthew Gordon: They want investment, they want jobs, they want taxes, royalties…

Nicolas Banados: The only good part of the political instability in Brazil is that the exchange rate is depreciated and that helps us. So, when noises about Brazil, that’s something people that are taking their money out of Brazil, that’s good news for us because that Real is going down and that exchange rate in in our benefit.

Matthew Gordon: Can I just ask about the Balsonero effect? Do you know much about what’s going on Brazil politically? Should people be worried?

Nicolas Banados: No, there may be more uncertainty in who’s going to run the country. Political uncertainty? Who knows what is going to happen? I don’t know. I have no idea who’s going to be the next President. There is no preferred candidate, but we are far from there. The only important change in environmental law because of Vale problems with the tailings, and there were some changes that we are complying to.

Matthew Gordon: But it’s business as usual.

Nicolas Banados: It’s business as usual. Of course, this trend is restricting some of the legislation. But we do comply with that because we set the standards at a higher level and it’s a completely different size. I mean, I don’t know if you know it moves like hundreds of millions of tons. Whether we are a mine that mines high grade, not high volume. We don’t fear Brazil turning into Venezuela… In Brazil, private property rule of law…. that’s going to stay.

Matthew Gordon: Mike. Clive.  Are they the guys to deliver growth for this company? The growth that you’re looking for?

Nicolas Banados: Yes. They have been for the company for a while. They have been through the tough times. They have delivered excellent results in building and operating projects.

Matthew Gordon: You trust you trust them with your money?

Nicolas Banados: Yes. We trust them with our money. In addition to Fratelli, I personally, I am aninvestor in Serabi Gold as well. I’ve put my own money in, my savings.

Matthew Gordon: So, you must trust them. Nicolas, thank you so much for talking to us. I wish you well with Serabi Gold and your other investments.

Nicolas Banados: Thank you very much. And thanks for having me.


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

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A photo of a neat stack of gold bars with 'Serabi Gold' written across the photo.