Serabi Gold (SRB, SBI) – 2020 AGM – CEO Summaries 2019 & 2020 Guidance (Transcript)

Serabi Gold PLC
  • TSX: EQX
  • Shares Outstanding: 59M
  • Share price GB£0.83 (16.06.2020)
  • Market Cap: GB£49M

Interview with Michael Hodgson, CEO of gold-producer Serabi Gold (LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI)

FULL ARTICLE ON THIS INTERVIEW HERE.

We last touched base with Hodgson in May. This time around, he’s here to discuss the outlook for 2020.

Like most gold producers, Serabi Gold is likely to miss it’s guidance for 2020, but not by as much as investors would expect. The company has mitigated the impacts of the market reset and COVID-19 effectively. Sprott is out of the picture, and now the company is debt-free and cashed-up, it can proceed forward with exciting gold exploration at Sao Chico, in addition to creating operational optimisations at Palito and Coringa.

This gold producer has been consistently on the up, but now Hodgson has put his foot to the floor, and Serabi Gold appears to be accelerating into top gear.

What did you make of Micahel Hogdson and Serabi Gold? Are you a gold investor? Does gold mining interest you? Comment below and we will respond.

We Discuss:

  1. 2019 Overview: Great Year for Serabi Gold. Looking at 3 Areas of Progress
  2. Rough Starting 2020, yet Great Results so Far: What’s the Rest of the Year Got in Store
  3. Exploration Potential: Prospective Land Package and Great Possibilities

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

Matthew Gordon: Hi, Mike, how are you doing, Sir?

Mike Hodgson: Very well. Thank you. Nice to speak to you, Matt.

Matthew Gordon: Well, thanks for joining us today. You should be, today, at your AGM, but obviously things are what they are, and unfortunately people can’t get together and your shareholders aren’t able to see you in person. So, you’ve kindly agreed to talk to us, and I guess sort of kill 2 birds with one stone and talked to us about a couple of things. One, 2019 performance and obviously 2020, and what has been happening and what your hopes are for the coming year under the current conditions. So, if you don’t mind, why don’t you give us your rundown of 2019?

Michael Hodgson: Well, you are right, it is the wonder of technology, isn’t it? I mean, yes, we would have been there today. It was always a good day in our calendar. Over the last few years, we’ve had more and more interest with our AGM and had lots of, well, a fair number of shareholders coming along and asking some pretty good, intelligent questions, a good following and sadly this year we can’t do it. But you know, forums like yourself are brilliant for doing that. So, this is an opportunity to meet, to give out more information. Well, a lot of it would all be repetition of what we did in 2019, but it’s a very important moment to sort of reflect on because it was a great year for us. And possibly more importantly, people are going to want to know where we are now and where we’re going, as with many companies. I will come on to that.

But 2019 first: well, you know, as I said before, you know, 3 main areas of progress for us, really with Serabi. The production from two mines ore bodies: Palito and Sao Chico, great year. It was the first time we exceeded 40,000oz in our history. We have been ramping up, not quite making 40,000 for the last four years, but finally we made it in 2019, which was great, and it was our best year ever. We are really pleased with that. So, production went really well. The plant was full. The ore body is working very well. So really, plant loads of operation. So, you know, our push was obviously, where do we go from here? And during the year, we obviously did all that test work on the ore-sorter, which we’ll come on to a little bit. That obviously arrived at site at Q4/19. In the last months of the year, we were basically assembling all of that and it has been a terrific purchase because in Q1/20 this year, it has really helped us, particularly in the second part in March and April,  just after commissioning, it has had some tremendous results. In fact, if we hadn’t had it, we probably would’ve have had quite a poor quarter, but in the end, the ore-sorter was a great way of turning our quarter around.

The back of 2019: so, as well as Palito going very nicely, and Sao Chico, exploration success, we brought in a surface diamond drill rig, a couple of contractors, and we really got our teeth into those geophysical anomalies in and around the mine site. What’s called headframe exploration in and around Sao Chico, particularly. And we did a fair bit of that in the second half of the year. The results didn’t really flow through until the end of the year, but we’re very nicely doing step out drilling at Sao Chico, and I’ll probably talk more about that in the results of 2020, that’s when we get the results. We got going, focusing on Sao Chico in particular. That has been pretty good. And the final part of the 2019 story was really Coringa, which was our, what we call our Palito lookalike down the road, which is going to be probably our most obvious growth strategy. We have our Palito 40,000oz to 50,000oz, and we have another project down the road, which looks pretty much the same. So that means 40,000oz, 50,000oz going to 90,000oz. That’s our plan.

We did a new resource update in 2019 in the first quarter. We did a PEA that came out in September, which showed what we thought, you know: yes, robust 40,000oz, above USD$900 All In Sustaining Costs. 8g/t, 8-year mine life Palito lookalike. We got that out, off the rank on end of Q4/19 last year. And now we have completed an environmental impact assessment on it, and we are very busily doing our permitting, final stage of permitting for Coringa. Hopefully with a view that we can actually start building the plant, assembling the process plant that’s already there in the backend of this year coming, this year, 2020.

So, 3 areas, good production, great exploration start-up, progress at Coringa with permitting.

Matthew Gordon: Well, not only that, your share price moved. It was quite a year for your shareholders.

Michael Hodgson: Yes, sorry, that’s a very good point, and probably the most critical point. Yes, we went from, we had been sort of bumbling along about £0.40p, I suppose. And we had a bit of a dip in May down to about £0.23p, and we had a tremendous recovery in the second half of the year. And I think at the end of the year, we even exceeded, we didn’t quite make the pound, but we got sort of £0.90p and we have pretty much stayed there since. So, we’ve enjoyed a great run in the second half of the year, tremendous on share price. So yes. So, all those, I’d like to see those three things, as well as great marketing and good management got us to where we are today.

Matthew Gordon: Well, like I say, we follow you quite closely. For us, you are one of those sort of turnaround stories of last year, after sort of a, you know, a while of stagnation and, you know, you kind of got yourself over the line and you are getting noticed by people, for sure. I think I would agree – you had a great 2019. A good year for you guys. Is it going to continue? Let’s talk about 2020. It’s been a very difficult start for everyone. There has been a market reset. We’ve obviously got the coronavirus, COVID-19 affecting people’s ability to work. You had a strong start, but how’s it gone since then?

Michael Hodgson Well, as you say, before the virus actually really started impacting in Brazil, we had a very decent January. We then had a bit of a tough February because we had a mill go down on us. But fortunately, that ore-sorter I talked about earlier was really our salvation. The beauty about this ore-sorter is that it takes waste out and it allows the basically high-grade material to go to the plant. It gives you catch up facility in a plant-constrained operation. So, we’ve had a phenomenal March and a phenomenal April; our two best months on record. In the middle of all this virus too, which was pretty surprising. I remember sitting at PDAC in March thinking this, we don’t know how this is going to go. I don’t think anybody thought in PDAC how bad it was going to be, but I did suspect it was going to be tough. But you know, after that March and April; two phenomenal months, and let’s say our best months ever.

So, we finished Q1 with 9,000oz, which is very respectful number, and our target was 10. Our budget for this year is 45,000. It’s actually 20,000oz by the end of the second quarter, we have a stronger second half of the year. I know I spoke to you about three, four weeks ago. You know, we’re not going to be able to make our 10,000oz in that second quarter, but we’re going to, we’re doing well. We are going to probably do about 8,000oz. We’re doing pretty well. And I think all things considered, that’s a tremendous effort.

The reason we’re not going to do that is, what we actually did in anticipation, and with what’s actually happened with the virus. We just started being a camp: we just wanted to get everybody who wasn’t really critical to the operation off the site, just to reduce risk. That allows us to socially distance everybody, people have much better sleeping arrangements, better sort of eating arrangements. We just basically sent everybody out so that people have got space. Just good common sense. So, we’ve got less, we haven’t got the optimal workforce there. We’ve only got, for example, we have a workforce of about 500 people. Normally we’ve got about 350 people at site. We have now reduced that to 250 people. And so therefore it’s unreasonable to expect that we can actually have normal production with that level of people, but those people who are there, they are just purely on Gold production duties, that’s it.

And they are doing a fantastic job. We’ve actually done. We’ve kept people there, the union has been tremendous in terms of cooperation. We’ve managed to have people working much longer stints than they normally would. They want to do this. They want to spend more time at site and then more time away. And we’ve been rotating people through with quarantining. Anybody new coming to site gets tested for the virus. So those of them who are symptom-free and negative, obviously they come in and allow people to leave. So, we feel we can maintain a level of production of about sort of 7,500oz to 8,000oz per quarter. So not as high as we did, but that’s a pretty decent effort all things considered. And I would say we’ve enjoyed, obviously, fantastic economic tailwinds with the Gold price in terms of dollars and in terms of the Real exchange rate.

So, we might not be producing the answers we thought we were going to produce, but we forecast our cash position to be, at the end of Q2/20, to be about USD$6M. And we’re going to see well above that. At the end of Q1/20, we probably had about USD$3M more in the bank. We ended Q1 with USD$9M in the bank, when before we thought we’d have USD$6M. So actually, our cash position is great. And the great news is at the end of this month, Sprott, who have been a fantastic debt partner for us for many years are gone. They are out. Finished. We are debt free, completely debt free. So, we’re going to be a company going into Q3/20 debt-free.

We also managed to renegotiate the purchase of Coringa in smaller parcels rather than actually paying the trigger payment of the outstanding USD$12M that we still owed them to finally purchase all of Coringa at the end of March. We renegotiated that.  We are paying them in $500,000 payments per month, which would go up to USD$1M a month in July, but that’s very affordable with our current level of production, et cetera.

So, it’s, you know, it has all worked out quite well. So, we’ve managed to sort of tidy up the balance sheet. We’ve probably got about USD$2M more in the bank than we thought we were going to have. We might not have the ounces of production, but we’re getting better money for the ounces that we do produce. And we do feel that we can actually continue as we are for sort of 2000oz, 2,500oz a month – so 7,500oz, 8,000oz quarters in Q3, Q4  well, you know, one would like to think we can do a little bit better and things will begin to, we can man up a little bit more and get back to a more normal quarter in Q4/19. So, whilst we might not reach our guidance, as I said before, we’re hopefully going to make a pretty decent stab at a good proportion of it.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. That’s fantastic. Can I ask you about a couple of things you said though? Because I’m intrigued. First of all, congrats on being able to continue to work and putting the plans in place to have most of your workforce able to work and, you know, and you say 8,000 versus the 10,000 is a pretty good effort all things considered. But the 2 things I want to talk to you about are, one: how important is the exploration component to what you’re doing?

Michael Hodgson:  Well, we stopped exploration about a month ago, that was surface drilling. And that was with a contractor. And again, that was kind of, reluctantly we had to do it, but we just needed the space and they come and go, we just couldn’t have people coming and going to the site. We basically wanted to isolate the site and keep it safe. So, our sort of priority was with our workforce. We said to the exploration contract, look, unless you are prepared to keep your guys there for a longer duration, like we’re all doing you know, they can’t come and go. And they wouldn’t do that. So, we said, okay, well let’s just down tools on the surface, we have kept the underground drilling going in fact, with short breaks, and the underground exploration is back starting up again now. So that’s good. And that’s going now.

Sao Chico in particular, it’s not just about going out along strike east and west, which is what we were doing, but going down, which looks tremendous. That’s something that we can continue. So, we actually have got the exploration drills underground, turning again, and they are doing the down dip exploration beyond the mine limits, actually in the mine. So, whilst the surface part is parked the underground part will continue. And you know, you are right; I mean, I was very reluctant just to sit and stop exploration and just mine for sort of 3 to 6-months. That’s ultimately going to come back and bite you. So, we didn’t want to do that. So, we’ve got at least the underground drilling going again, which is great.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. So that’s something. And then the reason I ask that is because obviously I think people in the market understand the concept of, you know, you’ve got Palito, and in Coringa you’ve got Palito 2. You have doubled, or are potentially doubling, the size of the company because they are both high-grade, underground. You know what you’re doing. I’m intrigued by the land package that you’ve got because potentially, that’s where a lot of upside can come through the trail. But when do you think you’re going to be able to kind of get back into that properly with some kind of a vengeance and with the new cash that you’ve got, do you plan to ramp that up as well?

Michael Hodgson Yes. Well, what we did do, what we stopped in May or April was the surface drilling, which was particularly…, our exploration over the last 6-months has focused in three areas. It’s been step-out drilling at Sao Chico, principally, where we’ve got this whole sort of, you know riches of geophysical anomalies, ore satellites in and around Sao Chico. Sao Chico itself is a geophysical anomaly but looks quite poor compared to the ones in and around it. So, we’re obviously very excited about those. And we did start intersecting sulphide mineralisation at Sao Chico before we stopped. And then we have just got a bit of a tiger by the tail there, so that’s absolutely brilliant. And we’re drilling the gap in between the two, so that’s fantastic. That’s the bit that’s all to play for. It’s parked for the time being, but we’ll get back into that in no time. And that’s fine.

One thing we were able to do though, was we were doing a big regional geochemistry program. And that’s not specialised labour. That’s our guys, we just have field crews just doing, you know, it’s donkey work really, but it’s really fantastic work. They just sit there taking ore samples over the entire area. And we finally, after that six months hard work, produce those, if you remember; three weeks ago, those maps. Really great geophysical maps, which show geochemical sort of contours on top of the geophysics. So, we can see how that great big geophysical anomaly bridges between Palito and Sao Chico. We’ve got a great big booming magnetic geophysical anomaly with lots of electromagnetic geophysical knowledge. And now we’ve got a beautiful big 100, 200 PPM Copper anomaly over this.

Now we all know that the Gold that we have at Palito and Sao Chico lives with the Copper. So now we’re doing sort of follow up Gold on all of those, and we can do all this work in the background while all of this drop down is going up. So, what we’re doing is we’re actually moving forward with all the geochemistry, and really homing in on the best target areas so that when we do actually come back, they will be drill ready and we can actually start drilling the targets. So, we’ll have a coincidental geophysical anomaly, geochemical anomaly, and then we drill it. And we’re obviously pretty excited about some of the ones we talked about a few weeks ago, which were on that big belt that you’ll see between Palito and Sao Chico.

Matthew Gordon: Well, you certainly did sound quite excited about it when we went through it a few weeks ago, was it three weeks ago? Because I think the potential there is to really, to, you know, develop the land package that you’ve got, quite inexpensively at this point, whilst obviously getting Coringa up and running.

Michael Hodgson: Well, I think the thing that is compelling about these anomalies is, I know they are early stage and people sort of go, oh, you know, they are only geophysical anomalies, but everything that’s discovered starts off as an anomaly. That’s what the base of this is. These look they’ve got such signatures, similar to Palito and Sao Chico. I mean, that’s the great thing: we’ve got templates, you know, we know what Sao Chico looked like as just an anomaly before we started mining it and look what the hell it is now. It’s a great deposit.

We’ve got these ones like Calico and Juco, which are immediately to the south of Palito, they are 5km away. I mean, that’s nothing. That’s a road to our process plant.  Easy, easy. They are high priority because of where they are. And you know, if we get a, say, some hits there and we can actually go to another 2,000oz, 300,000oz resource and with all these different satellites, they add great value. We can very quickly turn exploration success into production ounces.

And this whole exploration effort that we’re doing at the moment is because we know, with planned constraint, the ore-sorter is going to free up some place in our process, some space to, you know, for the next step, but it’s not going to be the solution to all of our problems. It’s going to buy us another 10,000oz basically, at this stage, that’s it. So, we can make our little plant go from 40,000oz, 50,000oz, which is great, a great bottom line, you know, additions to us, but where do we go from there? Where do we go from there? That’s the next question? You know,

I’m absolutely convinced that our tenements hold much more than 50,000oz worth of Gold per year, without doubt, without any doubt whatsoever. The question is, where? And so therefore, what we have got to figure out is, okay, all these sorts of central riches that we actually have, you know, how big are they and where are we going to process it? Because we are going to, you know, you asked the question: obviously, Sao Chico keeps growing. Do we put some kind of processing down there? If these two ore bodies that we’ve got near around Palito are coming to, or have the prospects to become ore bodies, do we put a slight expansion at Palito? It’s a wonderful problem to have.

We’ve actually got, it’s pretty interesting because we’ve got a plant at Coringa that’s too big for Coringa and we’ve got a plant at Palito that’s too small for Palito, or we haven’t got a plant at Sao Chico. And what we’ve got is resources everywhere, potentially. And then just kind of figuring out what’s best to put where and when. So, but I think it’s a nice problem to have. I think we’ve got great upside in all of them. And it’s just a case of doing it in the most logical way that makes most sense to shareholders, which means we can build our company with as much cashflow as possible and as little sort of borrowing and dilution than we’ll ever have to do. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

Matthew Gordon: Well, as you say, Mike, some nice problems to have. It’s a nice environment to be working in. You’re building up the cash position. You are debt free. Things are looking better for you. I know this is part of your AGM discussion. So, from me, congratulations on last year. I really liked what you did there. You have got a good team. They seem to know what they are doing. This year, we look forward to hearing more of the same please, I think would be the call from the shareholders, but I’d just say for anyone listening to this, please send us your questions that you’d like to ask, because I’m sure we’ll be speaking again soon to Michael, or I hope we will. Or indeed, send them directly to Mike at Serabi Gold

Michael Hodgson: There is the opportunity. If anyone has got questions, please come back to us, we are always willing to talk through with interested shareholders what our plans are.

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.

Serabi Gold (SRB) – 2020 AGM Update

Serabi Gold PLC
  • TSX: EQX
  • Shares Outstanding: 59M
  • Share price GB£0.83 (16.06.2020)
  • Market Cap: GB£49M

Interview with Michael Hodgson, CEO of Serabi Gold (LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI).

We last touched base with Hodgson in May. At the time, Brazilian gold-producer Serabi Gold had released some COVID-19-affected, but still impressive, Q1/20 results; the company recorded record gold production in March. A mill going down was an unexpected obstacle for the company to overcome, but the new ore-sorter made up for the downtime. Impressive operational number despite being in a lockdown. The management team continues to astonish.

Total Q1/20 gold production was c. 9,000oz, down on the 10,000oz guidance. This reinforced some excellent 2019 annual numbers, as Serabi Gold continues to establish itself as a solid gold producer.

Matthew Gordon talks to Michael Hodgson, 15th June 2020


Today was supposed to be Serabi Gold’s AGM. Instead, because of COVID-19, Hodgson is talking to us.

The company’s 2019 highlights included:

  1. US$14.23M cash position.
  2. USD$5M in net cash.
  3. A slightly increased, but still economic, AISC of US$1,081.
  4. An EBITDA of US$17.2M, up massively from US$6.3M in 2018.
  5. US$1,376 was the average gold price received.
  6. An 8% increase in total mined ore.
  7. The earnings per share were US$0.065.
  8. Serabi Gold created a huge amount of cash flow, generating US$5M in net cash.
  9. The company’s US$14.23M cash holdings were up from US$9.2M the year before.
  10. Serabi Gold achieved a solid post-tax profit of US$3.83M.

2020 has been a difficult year so far for all gold producers, developer and explorers. The market reset, followed by COVID-19, has created major difficulties and share prices were put under stress as shareholder sold down. Operations have ground to a halt for many in South America. However, in amongst all this uncertainty, Serabi Gold achieved record gold production in March. 3,674oz of gold was produced, the highest monthly level since operations began. The company also had a “phenomenal April,” capping off the company’s “best 2-years on record.”

The ore sorter becoming fully-operational, freeing up space for higher-grade ore to go into the plant, has likely had a lot to do with this performance. The guidance for this year is 20,000oz total production by the end of Q2, with 45,000oz by the end of the year, and this is likely to get gold investors even more excited. However, it is clear that Serabi Gold unlikely to hit its 10,000oz target in Q2, but the company should reach around 8,000oz courtesy of its hard working team at camp, who are pulling out all the stops.

The company ended Q1/20 with US$9M in the bank, and Hodgson expects to end Q2/20 with well above the US$6M originally targeted. The really exciting headline? At the end of this month, Sprott is finally out of the picture, and Serabi Gold will be DEBT-FREE. The game-changing Coringa acquisition has been structured smartly, so there will be no bulk payment upfront, and instalments will be staggered conducive to the stability of Serabi’s cash flow.

Debt-free, throwing off the ounces and the cash, with significant potential in the form of an doubling the output with both Coringa and Palito in operation and further possible operational optimisation. It’s quite the concoction, and investors seem to be appreciating Hodgson’s leadership.

However, for us. We are most excited by the potential of the exploration in and around Sao Chico and Palito. These are cheap, quick and accessible ounces. We are not sure the market yet understand what this does to the bottomline. It can all be financed from cashflow. It’s a significant land package, at site. Can they join Sao Chico and Palito together as one ore body. This is the game changer investors should be looking at. We will explore this line of questioning with the company once the AGM news is out of the way. PAY ATTENTION folks.

Most explorative above ground drilling was reluctantly halted a month ago because of health concerns around drill teams coming in and out of the camp. However, underground drilling has continued, and it’s back starting up again now. Hodgson hopes to exploit the “tremendous” potential of Sao Chico by drilling at it from all angles. A real area of excitement is the area that bridges Palito and Sao Chico together, which is packed full of exciting magnetic and electromagnetic geophysical anomalies. Right now, the company is progressing the geochemistry of its land package, honing in on the best target areas. Some of the exploration targets in the Jardim do Ouro District, just 5km away from Palito, carry meaningful potential: Hodgson is confident he can quickly turn exploration into production ounces.

In terms of operational optimisations, it is impressive that Serabi Gold is performing so well when so much can be enhanced. The company has a plant at Coringa that is too big for it, a plant at Palito that is too small for it, and no plant whatsoever at Sao Chico, with geophysical anomalies scattered all across the properties. Once Serabi Gold cracks how to best organise and utilise its land package operationally, investors could look forward to yet more growth.

What did you make of Michael Hodgson and Serabi Gold? Comment below and we will respond.

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.

Serabi Gold (LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI) – Superb Q1/20 Figures As This Gold Producer Goes From Strength To Strength

The Serabi Gold PLC company logo.
Serabi Gold PLC
  • LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI
  • Shares Outstanding: 59M
  • Share price GB£0.92 (14.05.2020)
  • Market Cap: GB£54M

Crux Investor recently decided to check in on one of our favourite gold stories in an interview with Michael Hodgson, CEO of gold producer, Serabi Gold (LSE:SRB, TSX:SBI).

Serabi Gold has a smart business model that we are big fans of. Hodgson walks us through the Q1/20 figures, and while they are slightly below guidance, they are mighty impressive considering the sweeping impact of COVID-19.

Going forward, Hodgson is now talking the language of bulk gold processing and this is starting to get very exciting for gold investors. Could Serabi Gold be on course for serious share price growth?

We Discuss:

  1. Update on Progress: Q1 Numbers
  2. Ore Sorter Preliminary Test Results: Performing as Expected?
  3. Press Release on Exploration: An In-Depth Look into Findings
  4. Distractions from the Coringa Gold Project or Value Building Exercise
  5. Bulk vs High Grade: Preparation for New Opportunity
  6. Country Dynamics to Affect Q2 Results?

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.

Serabi Gold (LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI) – It’s bigger than everything we see (Transcript)

The Serabi Gold PLC company logo.
Serabi Gold PLC
  • LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI
  • Shares Outstanding: 59M
  • Share price GB£0.92 (14.05.2020)
  • Market Cap: GB£54M

Interview with Michael Hodgson, CEO of gold producer, Serabi Gold (LSE:SRB, TSX:SBI).

Serabi Gold has been one of our favourite gold stories. Share price has trebled since we started following them. The team has managed to create a strong, stable operation at the Palito and Sao Chico gold mines in Brazil, but with the debt financing agreement (convertible loan notes) for second acquisition, Coringa, looking to be settled, Serabi Gold can push the cross-mine AISC down towards the US$1,000/oz figure, and double production to c. 80,000oz+ per annum of gold.

The Q1/20 production figures were released recently.

– Cash position
– US$14.23M at year-end
– Net cash – USD$5M
– AISC slightly up on 2018: US$1,081/oz
– EBITDA – US$17.2M
– Average gold price received
– US$1,376 – Total mined ore up 8% (at an average grade of 7%)

COVID-19 has negatively impacted most gold producers, but Serabi Gold has managed to successfully mitigate any potential ramifications. It has achieved this through sensible workplace safety practices, and the health & safety stats are also pleasing. Rotating the workforce has been very effective. Any junior gold miner would be chuffed with those numbers. Serabi Gold has now started allocating some money towards exploration for the first time in a while. With its strong cash flow, and with most of its debt finally being repaid, Serabi Gold has now freed up its capital for growth. This could get the market even more excited. The focus is currently on step-out drilling at the west of Sao Chico. Hodgson thinks the company is working its way towards a geophysical anomaly that the company has already been drilling at. There is a possibility the 2 could connect, resulting in some serious upside for Serabi Gold.

What about the much-discussed ore sorter, which could have a further transformative impact on Serabi Gold’s economics? Serabi Gold recently conducted a preliminary test on it. What is the feedback? Hodgson claims the thing is “absolutely singing,” which will be music to gold investors’ ears. He doesn’t have the stats for April just yet, but in March it was upgraded to pass 2,500t at a grade of c. 3g/t, and it screened out a little over 300t at a grade of 21g/t, the rest was 2,200t at a grade of 0.7g/t. Through April, the grades at Palito (50% of feed ore) went up from the usual grade of 6.5g/t to 9g/t. Overall, combined with the non-ore-sorted Sao Chico ore, it is giving the average grade a 1g/t uplift. This might not sound like a lot, but it’s a big change. He expects another healthy increase in the Palito feed grade through April, which will free up space at the production plant to use for better quality material. Smart.

Will the exploration plans distract Serabi Gold from Coringa? It’s certainly a nice problem to have, with organic growth in the company’s “backyard.” Hodgson states Coringa is still just as important. Adding ounces at a low cost gives Serabi the cash flow it needs to grow, and he is not going to forget that anytime soon. Coringa is a very advanced project that Hodgson will continue to focus on. Another focus will be on the areas surrounding Serabi Gold’s producing assets because the company will eventually need to expand its processing plant somewhere. The company has been successful at chasing high-grade veins, but now Hodgson is talking the language of bulk production. However, one of the biggest problems in Brazil is power. He claims the mining infrastructure is improving in the region every day. The company is constantly assessing its cost profile, and its eventual wish is to add in some open-pit production.

Hodgson acknowledges that Brazil is struggling, especially with its lack of medical infrastructure, but states he is confident Serabi will do what it can to keep producing. He states Serabi Gold might not make the guidance numbers it predicated at the pre-COVID-19 start of the year, but if the company reaches 90% of it, nobody will complain, especially at the current gold price. The exchange rate is also on the company’s side.

We Discuss:

  1. 2:17 – Update on Progress: Q1 Numbers
  2. 3:50 – Ore Sorter Preliminary Test Results: Performing as Expected?
  3. 5:41 – Press Release on Exploration: An In-Depth Look into Findings
  4. 14:46 – Distractions from the Coringa Gold Project or Value Building Exercise
  5. 16:49 – Bulk vs High Grade: Preparation for New Opportunity
  6. 18:18 – Country Dynamics to Affect Q2 Results?

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

Matthew Gordon: Hey Mike, how are you doing, Sir?

Mike Hodgson: Very well, thank you. Good to see you, Matt.

Matthew Gordon: Yes, good to see you. Are you bearing up still?

Mike Hodgson: Yes. Yes. We’re sort of running our operations remotely. We have daily calls, probably two or three calls a day, you know, thank god for Zoom and Skype and WhatsApp and anything else.

Matthew Gordon: It is a game changer. It is a game changer. We have seen your press release and I was interested because it is very different from what you normally talk about and I wanted to kind of get into it. Normally we have this conversation about production and productivity and what’s happening on site, but this is more around exploration at site almost. So, but let’s kick off first. I do need that usual update. So what is happening? Last month you had a bumper month. Have you been able to recreate that in April?

Mike Hodgson: Absolutely. We have. We’ve had another great month. It has really been superb. It is probably, we haven’t quite finalised the numbers yet, but they’re going to be close to 3,500oz, so great way to start a Q2/20, and we still hope that we’re going to be north of 9,000oz for the quarter, which in the circumstances is absolutely fabulous. The guys at site are working really well. We’ve managed to begin to, we’ve got some testing of some tests and we are managing to work out a system of actually rotating about 10 people a week at the moment. So we test people, we bring those 10 people to site. They’re in a separate part of the camp, which is quarantined. They spend sort of eight days there being quarantined and as long as the doctor’s happy with them and they’re all temperature tested, et cetera, they’re all fine they get integrated into the workforce.

That said, the guys at site have been brilliant. I mean, they normally work like 30-15 rostas and some of those guys have been there for 60-days now and they don’t want to leave. They keep going and we’re paying them a little bit of a bonus to keep the enthusiasm going and the motivation, and it is really showing you the numbers. I mean, the health and safety stats, before anyone gets alarmed, are fine: absolutely good. And the production stats are absolutely wonderful. So, you know, yes, I’m just delighted, delighted with the way the operation is going at the moment.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. And what about this ore-sorter? You have kind of done some preliminary tasks and you gave us some initial feedback as to what it has been able to do. Again, is that still performing as expected?

Mike Hodgson: The thing is absolutely singing, I haven’t got the stats for April yet, but in in March, it was upgrading, I think, just loosely in March has given me a bit of an idea; we passed about 2,500t at a grade of around 3g/t, and it screened out a little over 300t at a grade of 21g/t and the rest was 2,200t, the balance, at a grade of 0.7g/t. So it absolutely scavenged all this high-grade Gold.

Now, through April, our Palito grades, eventually go on, the normal Palito grades, because we’re only putting on the Palito part of the deposit at moment, the Palito grades, which generates about 50% of our ore feed, let’s say, the grades would normally have balanced sort of 6.5g/t, 7g/t, and we are basically passing about 9g/t.

So you know, overall, it is meaning, if you combine that with the Sao Chico ore as well, which doesn’t get ore-sorted, it is giving our feed grade at the plant about a 1g/t uplift. Now, 1g/t might not sound like a lot but if your feed grade is 7g/t and it is going to 8g/t, 8.5g/ – big difference. So, it is brilliant. It is working really well.

So yes, I’m looking forward, I mean I haven’t got them yet, but I think they’ll be a very significant contribution and another healthy increase in the Palito feed grade through April. That’s why we’re getting these extra ounces. That’s where it is coming from. It is taking waste out of the feed before it goes to the plant and using that plant capacity with better quality material. That’s the key.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. So that’s great. I mean I guess we’ll get a proper update from you maybe later this month if you can. I want to talk about this press release though. There’s some really nice numbers in here, but I think the bigger story in here is that you’re putting money towards exploration, which you haven’t done for some time. So, because obviously you’re producing, you’re throwing off cash now. So, tell me what you’re aiming to do here, what’s the plan here?

Mike Hodgson: Well, just to touch on your point there about that; I mean, we ever since we put Palito back in production in 2014 and we acquired Sao Chico a year or so later and then put that into production as well, we raised just enough money to do that and not, well, in fact, not quite enough, and we went to Sprott –  a great lender and we borrowed money off Sprott twice. USD$8M, which we paid off, and USD$8M again, which we’ve only got USD$2M left to pay on that and it will be gone by the end of June. So, we’ve basically paid USD$16 million, we borrowed USD$16M of debt and paid it off on a cashflow. So, we’ve never had money for exploration really, we have just been servicing and paying off debt. So, the opportunity for excavation was pretty much parked bar, you know, immediate mine site, head frame explorations, I like to call it, in around Palito and Sau Chico.

But obviously what we did in 2018, we did do a financing. We raised over USD$20M and we did set aside a chunk of money for exploration for the first time in about five years. So, it was great. But perhaps first I’ll talk about the Sao Chico exploration results, which is part of that headframe exploration I just talked about. And that is ongoing program. We have done a couple of releases already this year. It is the continued step out drilling of the Sao Chico extension, westerly, which we’re doing. And I think if one looks at the images in the press release, it is getting very interesting that as we actually stepped out West at Sao Chico, which is all we’re doing beyond the mine limits with surface drilling, we are working our way towards a geophysical anomaly, which is called Cicada, which we’ve also been drilling. And what the compelling thing here is, it is beginning to look like we’ve got the various sort of interesting possibility that this is all going to join up.

So essentially, what we’re drilling is the gap; the gap between Sao Chico and this geophysical anomaly called Cicada.

Matthew Gordon: So, let’s look at that. There’s a couple of diagrams in the press release. Do you mind sort of talking me through those?

Mike Hodgson:  Well, if we look here, we can see the Sao Chico deposit. You can see the mine limits down there in the sort of the South East corner. And that’s what we’ve been mining over the last few years. It is open to the South East, which is the area called Highway. We’ve got no holes in this release on that area at the moment. We are going to go back there, but we’ve been focusing on the area to the West. You can see there, I know it is not exactly showing the scale, but you can see we’ve got sort of 6 or 7 holes now in that area beyond the Western limit of the mine area, going towards that Lake area.

Now, we’ve got some really nice intersections in there, minable grades. Of course, what’s beginning to interest us is, at the same time with this release, we’ve got our first results from the Cicada anomaly. Now, those sort of coloured areas you see to the West there, they’re all to terrestrial or geophysical anomalies, which we obtained from the site last year. And we actually started drilling at the beginning of this year.

We’ve got our first our first sort of start results. So, we’re drilling, not with core drilling here, we’re drilling with what’s RC drilling. So, it is much courser drilling where you just collect rock chips. You don’t get such an accurate sample, but it is kind of discovery drilling. But there’s enough there for us to get pretty excited about. We’ve got three metres at 2g/t, including one at over 5g/t, which is very, very Gold bearing. And the interesting point is it is bang on projection of the Sao Chico ore zone and as we’re moving West it is becoming to become quite possible for us that these things might all join together, which is really very interesting.

So now, if we look at that in terms of the long section, so now we can see long section-wise, the mine on the right hand side, you can see all the levels in blue, you can see the areas we’ve been mining and are mining in yellow. And you can see where we’re drilling all around the edges, obviously to the West, sorry, to the East, at depth. We still have some intersections right down there at the bottom and the mine is going down and down and down. But we’re drawn in a drill, that area to the West of the mind, the information gap as I call it, between Sau Chico and Cicada, that is a terrestrial geophysics anomaly, which we’ve just actually started drilling and got those hits up at the top. So, we’ve got a nice area, about 6,000 to 7,800m there to fill in, and we’re just stepping along, going West, time, time and time. The last intersections we actually got were not so wide, but the structure was still going strong and it was still over 1g/t.

But you can see in there, we’re picking up some really nice numbers; we’ve got over 5n at 12g/t, another sort of 12g/t in there. So right at the top there we’ve got nearly 2 metres to 28g/t. So it is some really nice numbers and a big area to obviously justify extending that mine West as we go. And we’ll just continue drilling that gap all the way to Cicada. And if this thing joins up, we’re sitting on some pretty, some pretty nice resource growth at Sao Chico.

Okay. So here we have the results of that airborne geophysics survey with the geochemistry superimposed. When we first received this, we were pretty, well pretty excited about this because there we have the Palito mine at the top where our plant deposit is, and Sao Chico down there in the Southwest corner.

And never in a moment did we think we’d have this huge geophysical magnetic, anomalous high with all those little black areas. They are the little, they’re the electromagnetic anomaly, which is another type of geophysics, and they are usually an indicator of massive sulphide. So, you can see, there’s a chain of them that sit on the flank – so that big magnetic highlight.

It is a huge feature and it obviously makes us think that there’s a different rock type, a favourable rock type of sulphide mineralization. And we obviously have those black dots that give the electromagnetic highs going along with it. So, what we’ve done, we’ve actually superimposed soil geochemistry over the top and hey ho, we’ve got a nice coincidental Copper anomaly as well.

So, the plan now is to hone in on those anomalies and actually see if we get a coincidental Gold anomaly. And you can see down there on the Cinderella shear, we do. And that’s got a really nice series of contiguous Golden anomolies there. So that’s really excellent. And what we’re going to do there is do even tighter lines like closest space sampling and see if we can join all those, if they become, they join up and actually become a really nice continuity anomaly there, make those drill-ready.

But probably the two that really excite us now is this one area called Calico and Jura, which are over at the West end. Really looking at the closeup apps, Calico and Jura. We, this is an area where we’ve actually already taken the Copper soil samples that were anomalous and re-assayed them for Gold and got some really terrific results. And you can see there at Calico, we’ve got a series of really high grade, 30 parts per billion Golden soil anomalies. And they, interestingly enough, I look at that, I see the orientation of those anomalies and they are exactly the same orientation strike, as we call it as the Palito deposit. So, I think that’s going to be a big stack of veins, just like at Palito. And I’m sure that’s what that’s going to end up being. The geology is very similar, so it really does look like a Palito copy so far, at this stage, from a geochemical anomaly viewpoint. There are only 5km to Palito, so it is pretty easy to actually start something there and truck it up to the Palito plants. That’s not going to be an issue.

And to the South, we’ve got this one called Jura, now, this one probably is even more exciting because it has all the components that you would want to see for some type of scalable deposit. It is over a kilometre in diameter. It has got coincidental Copper, Gold and other elements like molybdenum, tellurium bismuth. Multi elements that you would actually find in a porphyry type deposit. And we already know the rocks that we have are right for that. So, these are the two that we actually want to sort of move forward with and get close to space sampling on, see if we can tighten these up and all being well, drill them in Q4/20 and see what we can find there.

It is looking very much like a Palito: the rocks are the same. It is only 5km from Palito, so it is pretty exciting.

Matthew Gordon: Okay. So what I’m hearing is that you’re very excited. I can hear that and you know how you’re going to tackle it. I guess, people, you know, shareholders and people are looking at you afresh are going to be like, well, is this going to distract you from the work that you’re going to do at Coringa?

Mike Hodgson: I’ve been asked that a few times from investors in the past, and obviously, I suppose it is a nice problem to have. We’ve got such good organic growth upside in our backyard. Look, Coringa is very advanced, established, as you, as you quite rightly say; it is a Palito lookalike and it is going to do very nicely. Thank you.

I think what these results show us is how important organic growth is as well. You know, we can actually add ounces in our own backyard very cheaply. We can actually find satellite deposits which are all sort of built, dovetailed into our sort of plant expansion plans, whether they be at Palito or Sao Chico. So it is important to realise that potential in and around our 2 producing areas to see where are we going to do a plant expansion, which obviously we need to do at some point in time. And  this is what it is about.

I suppose I would like to add though that, you know, when you see something so big on the geochemical anomalies and the geophysical anomalies like this, we are mining high-grade veins at Palito, at Sao Chico and we will be at Coringa. But the scale of these anomalies, the size of them is, and the rock types they’re in, do look very similar to what the Anglo Americans of the world were looking at in Matagroso state in the South. And you know, not that we’re going to jump into bed with Anglo American or RTZ or any major, we’ve had several visits at site about these guys, wanting to come and look at what we’ve got. They’re very excited about it also; about the potential.

You know, these big magnetic anomalies are indicative of magnetic altered granites, which are usually hosts for bulk, porphyry type mineralisation. And so, we’re pretty excited about that we might have something, some real scale in our own backyard. So, you know, all we can do now is work our way through the process, prove the mineability.

Matthew Gordon: That’s kind of interesting to me. So, obviously, you have been used to chasing high-grade veins and you’re good at it, you know, you have been able to do it economically and you are obviously throwing off cash at the moment, but you are now talking the language of a different type of opportunity. You’re talking about bulk. I presume therefore, more homogenous low-grade type activity. Are you equipped or set up to deal with that as well?

Mike Hodgson: Well, a fair bit of water is going to flow into the bridge first. I mean, obviously I think, you know, one of the biggest challenges in the region is power, and that’s why probably high-grade veins work in this part of the world at the moment. But it is I think, I think as every day passes in this part of Brazil, you know, the road improvement and infrastructure improvements happening. You know, I think there’s a lot of will to actually improve the power situation in the region. And certainly, we can look at that. It just depends on the scale. But certainly, one thing that we want to do is, is address our cost profile and you know, adding in some open pit production one day with our sort of high-grade vein in mining is our wish. That’s our wish. And if we can do it organically, all the better, all the better.

Matthew Gordon: Fantastic. Okay. Well look, Mike, it sounds like things are going well. You’re coping with COVID-19, keeping the numbers flowing, which, I guess, should excite the market because I think others are struggling somewhat there. Should we expect more of the same for Q2? Or is it just see how it goes? Because what’s happening in-country, I guess is where I’m getting to?

Mike Hodgson: Well it is, Brazil is struggling and there’s no doubt and there’s no denying that. We are remaining very isolated from what’s actually happening outside. You know, people only need to read the news and see; there’s a lot of, particularly in the north of Brazil, they haven’t got the infrastructure, the medical infrastructure that we enjoy in in Europe or the US. So it certainly is challenging. What we’re doing, we think we have found a formula for rotating the workforce. The workforce has become very, very flexible and they’re working much longer periods of time than they normally would work. And as long as that will stays, we think we can find a way through of having a good Q2/20 and now we think we can have a very reasonable Q3/20. We might not make the guidance numbers that we said at the beginning of the year, but I think if we got 90% of it, no one’s going to complain. And to be perfectly honest, with the Gold price that we’ve got, 9,400, 9,500/Real an oz, and certainly making 3,000 pounds plus months, our cash flow is going to be in pretty good shape.

Matthew Gordon: And is the exchange working in your favour?

Mike Hodgson: Very much so. Very much so. That’s huge. I mean, the exchange rate today is BRLR$5.3/USD$1. BRLR$5.42 you know, our budgets were done at 3.70, so it is a, yes, let’s say that costs 85% in reals, and you know, exchange rate, 9,500 Reals/oz. You know, two months ago it was 6,000 Real/oz, it is a great time to be a producer in Brazil. Well from an economic perspective.

Matthew Gordon: Certainly. Certainly, yes. Mike, thanks very much for that update. You know, your story we quite like and we follow you avidly because I think that the potential is there and I think with, maybe, exploring; the possibility of adding bulk to this high-grade story could be very interesting for you. So, keep us up to date about things going on. I guess it is very fluid at the moment, so I appreciate the phone call.

Mike Hodgson: Many thanks.

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.

Serabi Gold (LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI) – But it’s business as usual, Day after day (Transcript)

The Serabi Gold PLC company logo.
Serabi Gold PLC
  • TSX: EQX
  • Shares Outstanding: 60M
  • Share price GB£0.75 (17.04.2020)
  • Market Cap: GB£44.5M

Interview with Michael Hodgson, CEO of gold producer, Serabi Gold (LSE:SRB, TSX:SBI).

Hodgson gives us his take on the 2019 figures, the highlight being the cash position of USD$14.23M at the end of the year. Other notable numbers are Net cash USD$5M; the AISC at USD$1,081 up from 2018; EBITDA $17.2M; average gold price received of USD$1,376; total ore mined increased by 8% at average grade of 7%. The company continues to produce free cash flow and the Brazil Real exchange rate is also helping.

We also discuss the Q1/20 Operational Announcement. Feb production was impacted by an unexpected failure of a ball-mill, which was down for 2-weeks. However the new ore-sorter, allebit in a test period, is delivering astonishing results. Hodgson gives us an indication of the sorts of numbers it is delivering and can expect to continue delivering. The quarter ended up only slightly down on production forecast as a result.

Coringa is still progressing. Progress is slow as Greenstone wanted to evaluate the market to ensure that right amount of capital is available for the company. They have agreed a payment plan with Equinox and Greenstone involving a payment plan. All parties are agreed as money is being paid in a manageable way and allows Serabi to pay down the Sprott debt in full by the end of June. It also means that Serabi has cash on hand at all points. And what it means is that Coringa will, when mining resumes to normal levels, be able to double the production numbers as expected.

Currently it is business as usual for the moment. March figures where above forecast (best aver month on record), and expectation is that April will be similar. COVID-19 precautionary measures have been taken but the company is looking at the situation on a daily basis.

Apologies for not grilling Hodgson, but the line was quite poor, so conversation was difficult to have. They seem on top of things for now and we look forward to resuming normal conversations eventually.

We Discussed:

  1. 2019 Audited Results
  2. Coringa Gold Project: Impact of Covid-19, Financing and Plan Moving Forwards
  3. Palito Gold Mine: Is it Still Operating?
  4. New Ore Sorter Saves the Day: The Potential Future Capacity

CLICK HERE to watch the full interview.

Matthew Gordon: Hello, Mike. How are you, sir?

Michael Hodgson: Very well thank you, and yourself?

Matthew Gordon: Yes. Holed up at home, I guess like you? How have you been whiling away your hours?

Michael Hodgson: Well, a lot of Skype and a lot of WhatsApping and a lot of management through the Wifi to Brazil. Yes, a lot of communication between the corporate guys here in the UK but, yes, it is good Wifi – that’s what you need.

Matthew Gordon: It is. It is. I think it’s going to change the way we work and certainly change the way we interact with our people for sure. ‘Mike, a couple of things happened last week: audited end of year came out and I think today, operational announcement as well. Can we start off with last years audited results? There’s quite a few nice numbers in there. You must be pleased?

Michael Hodgson:  Probably the biggest number, the most important number is cash and we ended the year with over USD$14M in the bank; which is great. It really probably meant that we were generating about USD$1.5M per quarter, more or less. We started the year with about USD$8M. We built that cash up to about USD$8. The plan behind that was to try to accumulate as much cash as possible to actually put towards the effort to start Coringa. That was the plan. It still is the plan but of course, I think that the world has changed ever so slightly since then. But it’s great to have that cash in the bank. All In Sustaining Costs (AISC) came in at about USD$10.80: which is a little bit of an improvement on 2018. That was a function of just optimisation; more ounces, we did over 40,000oz. More, more ounces over the same cost base. Our costs are very stable in real terms. That’s important because, obviously, we are enjoying, did enjoy for much of 2019, and certainly today we are enjoying great economic tailwinds on the Gold price as I call them. Particularly today, the Gold price in Brazilian reals because of that exchange rate. So that has been terrific and that is really helping our All in Sustaining Costs and our continued cash generation as we go into Q2 2020.

Matthew Gordon: Brilliant. I think the thing that people want to know most about is Coringa. So last year, generating positive cashflow, which is great and you ended the year with a lot of cash in the bank, but you are going through a process, and I appreciate that everyone has had things held up with regards to what they are doing because of COVID-19. Is that still progressing?

Michael Hodgson: It is. People will have seen the press release late last week of the rescheduling of the final payment to Equinox through the Greenstone loan. Greenstone have been super supportive. Equinox have been super understanding. At the end of the day, I think it is fair to say that when Corona really started biting at the beginning of March, Greenstone wanted to pause, and we put out a press release, we were somewhat pressured into having to do it but I think the press release was received, I think some of the wording was perhaps a little harsh and people possible misinterpreted. I think there was a general feeling that people felt that Greenstone were getting cold absolutely not. I was in touch with them all of the time. All that they wanted to do was a pause, and they just wanted to say, look, you know, we don’t know how this is going to pan out. We know that the company might need, if for example, our business gets completely interrupted we might need that money. I don’t think Greenstone have got endless amounts of money just to keep supporting all of their investments. They just wanted to see that we were safe and secure and the production was still going okay before we went forward.

Now, we have come to a very, I think, eloquent solution, I think, Equinox, where we are going to start the payments so we can have early drawdowns on Greenstone’s loan, but we do keep the bulk of it there just in case whatever, something might happen. At the end of the day, we are going to make a USD$0.5M payments April, May, June, and then it will go to USD$1M payments. And as soon as the whole international travel bans are lifted we make the bullet payment to Equinox and we get Coringa.

In a way, you know, it’s a very nice solution for us. Probably not quite so good for Equinox; they’re not getting it all in one chunk but they are getting something, they are getting it at least. And we are paying it down in a very manageable way. So I’m delighted about that and we will continue to keep doing that during Q2. And the great thing about doing that is that it gives us some breathing space to pay off Sprott: USD$1.2M per month, April, May, June, so we will be debt-free by the end of June as well, and cash in the bank still.

Matthew Gordon: Fantastic. So that little triumvirate of related parties, they are all happy with this elegant solution?

Michael Hodgson: Yes they are. I mean, obviously, Clive, my colleague, he has had to go around a lot of, they were, the lawyers took a bit of time to get their heads around it. But no, it has all been very much agreed and Sprott are happy. Greenstone are happy and Equinox are happy.

Matthew Gordon: That is good news, especially difficult in the current climate etc. That’s nice to see. So we can expect you to be progressing with Coringa and developing Coringa as part of your new stable, your new portfolio?

Michael Hodgson: Yes. I will just add that we have just taken the precaution of suspending any non-essential activity during Q2 because of, obviously, movement of people is difficult etc. So the idea was to start Coringa in Q2. That’s been pushed back to, well, Q3 at least. Diamond drilling and exploration at Palito and Sao Chico has actually been put on stop. To be honest, the contractors couldn’t keep their people there, they couldn’t keep their supplies coming in themselves. So it was going to stop anyway. So we are just focussing completely at the moment on mine development and Gold production, and we will do that for the next 3-months, and then hopefully in Q3 we will pick everything up.

Matthew Gordon: So you are focussing on Palito, which is making money, but you have set the times back slightly for Coringa in terms of where you spend money for future growth. That makes sense to me. How are things at Palito? Is there anyone working?

Michael Hodgson: Absolutely. Up until now we are unaffected. Completely unaffected. I suppose that the advantage of being isolated but not that remote but at least fairly isolated is that we are completely virus-free. We have a workforce which is pretty local. And we have agreed with our workforce that they all are forgoing their usual 20:10, or 30:15 rotations; they are all going to stay there for the foreseeable future and just work on – the movement of people in Parai is restricted so they are going to stay on because once they leave they won’t be able to get back. They have said that they will stay on working there as long as no new people come to site and we therefore eliminate any risk of bringing this into the site, because we are a camp and as I am sure you can appreciate, if we have someone coming in with the virus, it would go through the camp like a bushfire. As long as we can keep the camp virus-free, and therefore no new people coming in, they all stay there working.

March was terrific. Those three weeks that we put out at the beginning of March we did, as you say, we had a problem in February with the bull mill, an unforeseen failure of one of our main bull mills, that actually took 15-days to resolve and really ate into our February production. We thought that would really damage the quarter but the guys responded in March absolutely magnificently and we posted our best ever monthly Gold production since operations began. Fantastic response – 3,700oz. So we ended the quarter with a very respectable 9,020oz, which was by no means a bad result at all. And I am pleased to say that we have started April absolutely screaming. We are on for a really good April by the looks as well.

As things stand at the moment, we are going to continue with normal business and it will be, we will make the best efforts to keep on to the budget. I think we will have to be cautious and say that we are doing absolutely everything that we can to make sure that we don’t actually have an interruption. We are trying to stockpile as much consumables as we can: mill balls, cyanide, carbon, lime, explosives; these are all things, food as well for the people, we are trying to keep all of these things there to try and keep people at site. We have literally got half of the workforce, well, the normal workforce at site but we are not rotating, so we have just got to try and keep them happy and motivated. So far they are happy, and that’s what we will do.

You know, it would be foolish for me to say, look, we can do this indefinitely; at some point in time we are going to have to, those guys will ultimately get tired and we will have to replace them, but we are not going to do that until we can and when I say we can, that’s with testing. We don’t know where we are with tests. We are trying to get tests, but we all know in this country, tests are very hard to come by. They are all being allocated, quite correctly, to the health services rather than private companies. So we will endeavour, however, to get some tests eventually so we can start to rotate the workforce.

But for the foreseeable future we expect a good April and a moderately good May. We will just do the best as we possibly can, but what can I say? Business as usual at the moment. Probably one thing that I do want to add is that this is one of those things where, I wouldn’t say we knew about this but the impact of the ore sorter has been absolutely phenomenal and probably has come in at exactly the right time. Here’s a piece of equipment that can really improve the grade and it probably was instrumental in the ounces that we produced in March that we could recover and salvage to make a very respectable quarter out of what could have been a poor quarter. And that is still operating today and will be all through Q2 and is really adding some, screening out waste on the Palito ore and really getting the grade up , and the plant is singing as a result. There’s some high-grade going in and some high-level ounces being mined.

Matthew Gordon: If I can just ask, the ore sorter, sorry, I was going to ask you about your Q1 operational announcement but I think you have covered a lot of the components there, so thanks for that. With the ore sorter, I appreciate that it has contributed to you being able to recover some of the losses from the failure at the Ball mill. But can you give me some numbers. Give me a sense of what the future could look like in terms of what is the ore sorter doing for you?

Michael Hodgson: It’s kind of hard to say exactly what – January and February, we were just literally playing around with any old material, just to see what we could scavenge out of low-grade piles to see what it could do, and it was pretty impressive, but March was probably the first month where we really, seriously measured and we fed it with typical run of mine material, lower grade, admittedly, and see what it would actually pull out. These numbers are basically the March numbers. So we fed this ore sorter in March with 2,500 tons at a grade of 3.2g/t. So that 2,500 tons was then separated into 300 tons of product at 21g/t, and 2,200 tons of reject at 0.8g/t. So essentially, we have scavenged all of that high grade out of that 3g pile. All that ore into the 300t high-grade pile and the reject was 0.8g/t. That’s 21g/t and it went to the plant and it was a real sweetener on the typical ROM feed of about the typical 7g/t to 8g/t. You can imagine that 2,500t would have normally been going through the plant and instead we reduced that to 300t.

Matthew Gordon: That’s amazing. And what will the ore sorter capacity be going forward? What sort of numbers will be going through it?

Michael Hodgson: Well, I think in time we will probably pass all of the Palito ore through the ore sorter. I think we will. We will be running at about 250 tons per day. It can easily do that. It is actually capable of doing about 40 tons per hour so it can comfortably do that. In fact, it is so efficient that crushing them becomes our bottle neck; we can’t crush enough. We are now looking at ways of expanding our crushing facility so we can actually…the bottle neck just moves around, that is the problem, but certainly at the moment, all of the Palito ore, the majority of the Palito ore is going through the ore sorter, just screening. And then the plants, the capacity that we liberate, we use Sao Chico ore for because that doesn’t work so well with the ore sorter; it doesn’t need to be sorted because it is sort of 9g long-haul material and that just goes straight in. So this is just the ounces, we are generating more ounces through the processing plant but not by increasing the throughput, just by increasing the head grade.

Matthew Gordon: Mike, that’s really fascinating with regards to the fact that the ore sorter is liking the ore that you are putting through it. Those sorts of numbers are phenomenal. It bodes well for the future for sure. Great to hear that it is business as usual for now. Numbers: and hopefully you can continue to hit those numbers. I know that it is difficult times for you guys. I think that the market is going to give you guys, well miners, a pink ticket for a while because it is exceptional times here. It is nice to see some companies, with the cooperation of their staff, their team, to be able to continue to work. I appreciate the update today. We loved the turnaround last year, with Coringa coming on board I think it will be pretty exciting times this year if we can get back to some semblance of normality soon.

Michael Hodgson: Yes, well we are certainly, definitely, definitely looking forward to that day.

Matthew Gordon: We all are. We all are. Well look, I’m going to let you get back to the sunshine down on the South coast and your WhatsApp and your Zooming. Do pick up the phone if anything does change because yours is one of our favourite stories, certainly here in the UK. We wish you well and we will speak to you soon.

Michael Hodgson: I appreciate it, Matthew. Speak to you soon.

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.

Serabi Gold (LSE: SRB) – Ready or Not At All, So Close Enough to Taste It (Transcript)

Interview with Michael Hodgson, CEO of Serabi Gold (LSE:SRB, TSX:SBI).

Off the back of yesterday’s press release, Mike spoke to us to give us a bit more colour on the details about the Public Hearing and the results of the first months test on the new ore sorter.

Interview highlights:

  • 1:30 – Public Hearing: A Positive Outcome
  • 3:43 – Ore Sorter: How Does it Work?
  • 9:56 – Focus for 2020: Exploration, Drilling and Building Value

Click here to watch the interview.


Matthew Gordon: Good. We saw the press release this morning, thought we’d try and catch you, and it sounds like we caught you at a good time, you’re off to Brazil tomorrow. So, why don’t we talk about the public hearing first of all which you told us about last time we spoke, but it seems to have gone well?

Mike Hodgson: Yes, yeah, I mean, you don’t get a definitive answer in the actual public hearing itself but you obviously… it could go very wrong on the day, so I mean if you have a positive public hearing in terms of like, everyone sits down and listens and all the stakeholders have the conversations and are all heard over 6-hours and there’s no… you know, it’s all done in a cordial manner, which is exactly what happened, you can’t have anything more.

So what we actually have there. It’s chaired by the State Environment Agency, called SEMAS, and they chaired it and all the various stakeholders had their say and we had pretty much overwhelming support, which was great. So they will now go away and digest all of those comments, people’s concerns, people’s wishes, people’s wants, and they will then make a recommendation to a governing body which is called KOHIMA. They’re the guys that actually, ultimately, either ratify it and take it to the board. So they’ll listen to all of the, as I say, all the comments and concerns and they’ll come back, hopefully, with an LP for us, we hope within the next sort of six to eight weeks. That’ll be a great result, we’ll be delighted to get it done so quickly.

Okay, it’s slipped a bit compared to what we hoped, but you’ll remember we had to live through all of those tailings dam problems of 2019 with Brumadinho and how that affected everybody in the mining industry in Brazil. We’ll obviously get the EIA resubmitted and the public hearing still early in 2020 and seemingly gone through in such a positive climate in a way. Yeah, I think we did a really… we’re very pleased. Very pleased.

Matthew Gordon: Well I guess you had the benefit of obviously Palito, existing business, running without any issues and you obviously had the support of the local community from that, so that all helps. And I think people mustn’t underestimate the importance of this, and we’ve certainly spoken to a few companies in the last couple of weeks who are suffering from not being able to get through the process, as it were.

Let’s talk about the ore sorter, because I’ve watched the video which kind of explains it all to me and we’ll put the link up above here now so people can go to that. Can you tell us the impact? You’ve been running it for the best part of a month and it seems to be delivering quite well. I’m looking at some numbers here, so you fed in 1,266 tonnes and you’ve identified 1,076 tonnes of waste, so that’s significant.

Mike Hodgson: Those numbers aren’t really terribly indicative. I put them in there because obviously we switched it on just over a month ago and we’ve been putting through some pretty miniscule tonnages, and we’re just playing around with it really, trying to find the sweet spot. And we’re using different types of ore. Some of the ore is actually sort of more massive sulphide ore. So really, I put those numbers in there to show people, hey, you know, it was a pile of rubbish, basically, sub-economic, very uneconomic material.

We passed it through the ore sorter and we just pulled out 200t at, like, 7g/t and the rest of it is a big pile of waste, and that just shows what this thing can do. And the video shows it, that it’s going in, you know, it’s crushed material which is 80% waste rock and if you look at underground face, underground, if you just eyeball that you can see, well hello, 80% of that face there is waste and 20% of it is a band of ore. That’s exactly what the ore sorter does. When that thing’s all been crushed it can actually eliminate all that waste and just scavenge out that sort of high-grade band of the sulphides where the Gold sits, and that’s what it does.

So I think we can see straight away it’s a very… it’s great at just scavenging out the ore out of the waste. And we won’t put our best material through it because it’s not an exact science, there are always going to be losses. Like, you will get ore going into the waste system and you will get waste going into the ore system, but I think the best way of describing it is, it is a waste remover. That’s what it is, it’s a waste remover and it’s an ore scavenger.

So we are only really using it at the moment and will be only using it until we’ve got this absolutely nailed, we’ll only be using it on our lower grade ore development, which is where we’re just driving along the belt in its most diluted materials, that’s the material with all the waste rock in, and it’s great for just recovering the ore out of that material and not having to pass all that stuff through the process pond which up until now had been completely constipating our process plans with this material.

So if we get rid of that, first of all we save ourselves, just by getting rid of that material and going for 500 tonnes a day at 7g/t, 400t per day at, say, 9g/t, you’re going to save yourself about USD$1M a year at cost which means the payback on this machine is about 18 months. But, more importantly, what it will do is it will liberate 100t a day of free space, which we can then use again to add more high grade or make our little process plant produce, instead of 40,000 ounces, which it can do today, the same plant with the same size and through-put can do 50,000 ounces. That’s the beauty.

Matthew Gordon: That’s truly remarkable. But it doesn’t actually identify Gold per se, does it? Explain to people what it’s actually doing? They can watch it in the video but I thought it was interesting to…

Mike Hodgson: Very, very important, the distinction. When you look at that video you see that yellow shiny stuff, people I know would be very excited if that was a band of Gold. It’s not. That is a band of sulphides, mostly charcoal pyrites which is a copper sulphide and pyrites which is an iron sulphide. And all of our Gold is very fine-grained contained within those sulphides. So, our ore sorter has two metals that actually split differentiating between ore and waste. What you’re always after with any type of ore sorting, whether it be diamonds or, as we’re doing, Gold, or whatever, you need contra between your ore and your waste, dark contrast. So it won’t work terribly well on a disseminated ore body? On an ore body like ours, which is very sharp, it will. So, what it’s actually doing, you crush it down to about a quarter of an inch, half an inch, so you can see there, an inch to half an inch, and you pass it through either a colour sorter or an x-ray sorter. So, let’s take the colour sorter first. In our case as you’re dealing with video, pink-based and the rest is ore. So you can just simply say, right then, I want to collect anything that’s not pink and it will just literally identify any stone that’s not pink and throw it off on to different belts as you saw in the video and the pink, the granite, will just fall off the edge as waste. Alternatively, you can sort on atomic density which is where you use the x-ray sorter, so it’s a piece of equipment not dissimilar to what we have at airports, you pass through it, and it’s actually penetrating every stone on 1mm centres, so it’s hugely detailed. And there’s a 3D sample so every stone gets analysed for a percentage or its atomic density and, of course, the granite rocks are much less dense than the sulphides and the ore rocks so, again, there’s a big contrast in density between what is the ore and what is the granite. So, again, we can sort on x-ray as well. And, if we really want, we can’t do it at the same time but we can – we haven’t tried that yet – but what we can do, we can sort once on, say, density, save the pile, and then you can pass the pile again and sort on colour. So, the permutations are endless and we’re just at the beginning of this journey really. But we’ve just simply by sorting on x-ray. It seems to be brilliantly separating the waste and putting some more add to the waste. The closing shot of the video you see that little pile and the big pile. We pulled that little pile. That’s now a big pile and before it was just lost in that big pile.

Matthew Gordon: It’s amazing. We were talking to a lot of companies about bringing ore sorters in to improve their productivity and throughput. As you say, the savings are, or can be, immense. You had a great year last year in terms of the share price. Obviously, shareholders, the share register must be quite pleased with your performance. I know you’re excited obviously about the ore sorter here but you’re obviously more excited about bringing Coringa into production. You’re off to Brazil tomorrow you tell me, before we started the call. What are you going to do?

Mike Hodgson: Well, we’re closing in on our sort of three-year, we’re doing, we’re updating our mine plans and our resource estimations. So that’s basically what I’m going down there to actually sort of oversee, have a good look at that. We’ve got some exciting drilling going on at Sao Chico. I just to make sure we can as much of those results into this resource estimate we’ve just done There will be an update coming out too some very couple of intersections on the further step outs yet. That’s not probably get the results on, quite, even the official results, but certainly it’s looking very good. We’ve got some very nice-looking introspection, visual at this moment in time so I’m going to be looking at all of that.

Coringa, a year, well that’s obviously going on very well. We’re, as you know, we talked about this last time, we have Greenstone the convertible loan note coming in at the end of next month, and that will, of course, be the catalyst to us to start work at Coringa, start on the decline and getting on the ground. And, again, the exciting thing about that is getting underground, getting the bulk sample done or getting that earth moving, see how that responds to ore sorting as well. So, I’m completely sold on the whole thing. I mean I must admit when it was all, when we all talked about it, it was about two years ago the scary thing was it basically going to amount to USD$2M on something like this was you know… Well, I don’t want it just to be an ethical success. We really hope it works in earnest. I’m completely sold. I think it’s a paradigm shift in this part of the world with all of its sulphite hosted Gold deposits. It’s going to be terrific.

Matthew Gordon: I think that’s what the shareholders bought into last year when the share price was moving rapidly up having been stagnant for so long. A couple of million bucks and a payback of, as you said, less than a couple of years, 18 months to 24 months. Fantastic. But, also the ability to double your production and get up towards that wonderful 100,000 ounce a year number it has got to be in the crosshairs for you. I mean Coringa could get you up to 80,000 and with your exploration at Sao Chico you’ve got to be aiming higher, haven’t you?

Mike Hodgson: Yes definitely, I think the ease of mining at Sao Chico ore body, that’s why we put a lot of effort on exploration now. We obviously get a bigger bang for our buck with our exploration work that we do there. If we do get a bit of a tiger by the tail there and, at the same time, the space that we’re liberating by cleaning up the Palito ore creates more space to put through more Sao Chico ore, but we’re not dismissing the possibility of being able to sort the Sao Chico ore as well. It might be a different way of doing it, but we are beginning to get some pretty good results on that. So, it’s three deposits. Coringa, Sao Chico and Palito as being sortable in the end. We’re going to squeeze, I was always saying, my comment there, low-grades and tonnes cost, we’re always going to try and get the grade up as much as possible and not just chase scale but chase quality so we can actually get to, you know, 100,000 ounces with mining as high a grade as possible so we don’t actually have the enormous through points that a lot of 100,000 ounce producers have to have to get that level of production. That’s the name of the game.

Matthew Gordon: And that’s the focus for this year or, have you got more surprises on the horizon?

Mike Hodgson: I think if we get a nice big resource increase at Sao Chico and we get successful or we get on the ground at Coringa and we bring back a bulk sample and that works very well with the ore sorter and Palito’s achieving its 45,000oz, I’d be very happy with that outcome.

Matthew Gordon: Very good. Thanks very much. I appreciate you taking our call with regard to this morning’s press release. We were keen to speak to you because it was one of the stories, success stories, of last year, certainly in terms of share price, which is the name of the game after all. So, we’re kind of keen to see how you get on this year and see if you can repeat that success. Stay in touch.

Mike Hodgson: I will Matthew. 


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.

Serabi Gold (LSE: SRB, TSX: SBI) – You Broke The Bonds, And You Loosed The Chains (Transcript)

Serabi Gold - Palito

Interview with Michael Hodgson, CEO of Serabi Gold (LSE:SRB, TSX:SBI).

2019 was a good year for most gold companies, including Serabi Gold, who saw its share price treble. Now Serabi is looking to push on to achieve the Gold returns shareholders will demand.

Serabi’s debt to Sprott Lending Partnership, c. US$6.5M, and Equinox Gold Corp., US$12M, has been looking. Rather than raising equity to resolve the problem, Serabi Gold has opted for 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. This wards off dilution for now, but if Greenstone decides to convert notes into shares rather than cash that would suggest the company has delivered on its production targets and the share price has bounded on further.

Serabi Gold will now look to push forward with the development of Coringa, which is geophysically and metallurgically similar to Palito, but with a higher gold grade of 8.34g/t. 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 doubled.

Serabi will use the majority of the c. US$14M in the bank to develop Coringa, introduce an ore sorter at Palito and continue exploration at Sao Chico. Serabi Gold appears to be well set up to build on last year’s 40,000oz+ gold production figures. Let’s keep watch and see if they can deliver.

Interview highlights:

  • Press Release: $12M Convertible Loan
  • What is a Convertible Loan and What Terms Bind it?
  • Had They Looked into Equity Options Beforehand?
  • Greenstone Group’s Support
  • Year of Delivering: What Will They Do With the Money?

Watch the interview here.


Matthew Gordon: You have a press release out this morning: USD$12m convertible note. Why have you done that?

Mike Hodgson: I think everyone will know, Serabi investors and people who have been following us, that we have the Coringa project which we have been advancing, making good permitting progress. It’s a very similar deposit to our Palito operation, so we see it as quick organic growth. We are working through the permitting process and have a license to start the underground operation and that is something that we are eager to do. One outstanding condition on that has been that we have one final payment to make to the company we purchased the asset from, called Equinox. They were called Anfield in the past, but they have since become Equinox, and we owe them USD$12m. Whilst we are eager to start our underground operation at Coringa, it is something that we wouldn’t be comfortable doing until we have fully owned the asset. So the payment will be used to settle the final payment to Equinox which is going to be happening, all being well, at the end of February 2020.

Matthew Gordon: And you also have debt with Sprott outstanding. Will you be tackling that or is that something you can roll over?

Mike Hodgson: The good thing about this USD$12m convertible loan is that it frees us up to use our own cash. We have been running up our cash position quite nicely during 2019. We opened the year with USD$8m and we ended the year with over USD$14m. We have been building up cash. The whole idea, the original intention was to build up that cash as much as possible and to actually make the Equinox payment, but instead, we will use that cash to pay off Sprott, and to actually end that debt as well, which is sitting at a little over USD$6.5m. We will pay that out of cash flow; this is what this convertible loan allows us to do. It liberates our cash to do that, and continue with our various work programs at Palito and Sao Chico. We are actually drilling a lot to try and increase the Resources and to fund that underground development which we are going to do at Coringa from Q2 onwards in this coming year.

Matthew Gordon: What is a convertible?

Mike Hodgson: Okay, well, a convertible loan is essentially money where a lender puts money to the company on a condition over a term, in this case, 16-months, they then have the right to take shares, at a pre-agreed price, the exercised price, which will be set at the beginning of the loan. In other words, in the next few days, they have the right to actually acquire those shares at a fixed price, at the end of the term. They may want it to be converted, so in this case, it would be fairly close to the market price, but they could choose to actually get paid back in cash instead. The company also needs to demonstrate that they can pay the money back in cash as well. At 16-months, cashflow is actually strong enough to do that, but we would obviously expect the conversion with Greenstone to take it in shares.

Matthew Gordon: It is at their election; if your shares are moving up, or if they feel your shares will probably move up, they will elect to take shares. Or they could just treat it as debt and you repay them at the end of the term if you have the cash, or perhaps you refinance it if you didn’t have the cash.

Mike Hodgson: That’s correct.

Matthew Gordon: It is an interesting device which some Juniors use. Did you look at the option of equity, because I imagine that last year, or towards the end of last year, it was a tricky period for equities? I think most companies were asking for a 10% to 15% discount. Did you have those conversations?

Mike Hodgson: We did. Last year started, production-wise, we had a terrific year and as I just said, we generated cash; we generated USD$6m to USD$7m during the year, which was a great effort. We had a poor share performance in Q2/19 when we had two shareholders: one an institution in London, and one a private lender, invested some time ago, both selling their positions and that really took our share price through an all-time low for the last few years of £0.23p. So, at that point, equity was absolutely out of the question.

Despite that, we did see a price recovery during the year. Serabi, like many Juniors has suffered over the year, with liquidity – we did actually find over the second half, on this Gold run on H2/19 – we saw a lot of investors come into the stock and that really drove the price up. For once, in quite a while, we had some real liquidity, share price went back up to about to £0.70p/80p range, which certainly brought the prospect of equity into question. But having investigated it, speaking to the brokers, the board, major shareholders generally, it was still expensive money. Most of the equity deals kicking around wanted 20% discount to the market, so it was still going to be quite an expensive way of doing this.

So, Greenstone; they are fairly new investors with us. They have been very supportive. They offered us a convertible loan, so it seemed favourable, the cheapest money and the best option to take.

Matthew Gordon: Quite an endorsement by Greenstone. For people who don’t know who Greenstone is, they are a geologically technical fund in London. This takes their position to 37.8% potentially, or something like it.

Mike Hodgson: Yes.

Matthew Gordon: So quite an endorsement from them. You must be pleased to have them onboard and supporting you?

MIKE HODGSON: Absolutely. They took a big role in our company in that we have regular technical discussions. We have had a lot of support. They have got a good engine room; people who we can call on. They have obviously got a huge reach in terms of things that the company can be doing as well. They are super helpful and it is good to have a shareholder of that type of calibre in our stock.

Matthew Gordon: Smart money with deep pockets. Very nice. Can we talk about what you are actually going to do with the money? You have talked in the past about obviously getting into production. I also want to look at what you’ve been doing at Palito and Sao Chico because you have talked about exploration in the past, so what is happening this year with this new restructured Serabi Gold company?

Mike Hodgson: Yes. Well we are really, really busy at the moment. We had a great year. We broke 40,000oz for the first time ever, which was a huge achievement. We ended a quarter, Q4/19 with another 10,000oz which was really pleasing. So that means that 5 out of our last 6 quarters have broken 10,000oz, so we really are in regime, established at 40,000oz. Very steady – which is not something you usually see with a small producer. It is very consistent. The grades are very solid. Production and throughputs are going well at the mines. We still remain a plant-constrained operation; which I will come onto in a moment. We are doing something about that, but it was still very, very pleasing. We expect this year to be more of the same with the good news that we have our ore-sorter, which is being commissioned as I speak. I am actually going out very quickly next week, to site to see this machine working. We are commissioning it right now. We have got the manufacturer at site. We are calibrating it.

Now, the effect of this ore-sorter is that, the most diluted ore that we have got, which is generally the Palito development ore, and some of the lower-grade Stope ore, we can pass this material through this ore sorter, which essentially removes waste. Either by optical; by colour, or by density. Now, we are a plant-constrained operation. Our restriction is the milling section which is around 550tpd. If the grade is sitting normally at about 7g/t or 8g/t, that means that at the end of the day, the maximum output is around 40,000oz.

The ore sorter is going to sort of screen out some of that waste rock which is currently entering the process plant and will actually liberate some space so we can actually add more higher-grade ore and get that plant processing the same volume but of a slightly higher-grade. So if the grade can go up, from say 8g/t to 10g/t, we can squeeze that plant to get something like 45,000oz to 46,000oz out of it this year.

That, obviously, might not sound a lot but it is 12.5% to 15% more. It goes straight to the bottom-line – literally. The additional mining cost is there, but the additional processing cost is not. So it makes a huge amount of sense. So that is going to be a great plus in the actual operation.

At Sao Chico, which is our satellite ore body, we feel that that is probably the place where the extra ore production, mine production, will come from, to take up the slack that I have just talked about; add these extra ounces of higher-grade ore. And we are drilling there at the moment and have been drilling for around 2-months now and that will continue for the next 3 or 4-months. We are doing step-out drilling there. It is going very well. We are just literally drilling extensions to the current mine limits. If you can imagine an ore body – it is open to the East, it is open to the West, and open at depth, we are doing underground drilling with a contractor. Doing deep underground diamond drilling, to test the ore body at depth. We will be doing the same on strike at the surface with the contractor as well.  So that aggressive drill program is going to go on for the rest of…until Q2/20, with a view of hopefully drilling a new Resource update at Chico at the end of Q2/Q3. But most importantly, it is going to actually allow us to run our mine plan a bit longer. That’s the key there.

We also have at Sao Chico, outside the mine limits, but in our exploration licensed areas, some really exciting geophysics anomalies which we actually discovered back in 2018. We have finally got a drill rig in those as well so we are actually drilling those at the moment, we are only into our second hole. The results of which will be coming out in the next 2-months. So we are going to see a steady stream of drill results, coming particularly from Sao Chico, the mine itself, the step-out drilling, and drilling anomalies during the first half of this year.

So all of this is being funded out of our cash flow. We ended the year with USD$40m cash in the bank. We are going to pay USD$6.5m off to Sprott at the end of next month, and the rest of the money will be used, along with contributing cashflows we continue that exploration program. And finally, as obviously, and the real reason we are doing the convertible loan, is the work as well at Coringa.   

We have the mining license. Coringa, our new asset which we are going to bring on stream in the next 18-months. We are making great progress on the permitting.  We are very close to getting the first license, the most difficult license to get which is called the Preliminary License. That is conditional upon a public hearing which we are going to have. The date has now been set; it’s on 6th February. That’s when all of the stakeholders go to a public meeting which is in the region. It is important that it is in the region because it is in the town where Serabi is already one of the biggest employers and therefore, we are a big fish in a small pond. We have great local support. One really important note is that on December 6th, we actually got a sign-off from FUNAI – the Federal Agency for indigenous communities which these days, one can imagine in the Amazon, that is a very important group of people, which you do really need their support. They actually signed off with full support for the project. There will be no negative impact for them, in fact, positives, so that was a tremendous piece of news for us.  Which means that we will go into that public hearing well placed, albeit the public hearing will go well and we will get the preliminary license on the back of that.

That is the hardest license and where you are going to get stopped. You are going to get stumbling blocks but we feel pretty confident. We have made the project pretty water-tight. We have got no tailings there anymore. All of the environmental impact studies etc in our plan will be to not use tailings and dry-stack tailings, again, it is as good as it can be so we feel very confident on the back of that meeting on February 6th, we will have positive news.

Just to finish on that point, we already do have the license to start the underground mine. We are going to get that underway as soon as possible. It is important to demonstrate that we are a company that is really committed to the project in the region. Getting it started, putting jobs in the local community at the earliest stage and getting that all-important geological information for lenders and equity down the line. However, we finally fund the project, at the back end of 2021, we want to advance the project and get more confidence on the asset itself.

We want to know our AISC. We have actually managed about USD$1,050 for the year in 2019 with our production, and Coringa is going to bring in an additional 35,000oz to 40,000oz. Similar cost, but whilst there won’t be direct operational synergy, as they is 200kms apart, there will obviously be maintenance synergies, management synergies, some shared facilities like assay facilities and we are trying to locate some of those facilities between Palito and Sau Chico and in a city called Nova Polesa, which basically sits equidistant between the two assets. It is a town of about 40,000 people. There are a lot of positives there and that, I think those extra ounces will come in low-$900s so overall, we will be an 80,000oz producer with around an AISC of USD$950 as opposed to USD$1,050 today. So, with today’s Gold prices and today’s exchange rates; that’s a pretty nice place to be for a company of our size.

Matthew Gordon: Last year your share price trebled. You finished with a lot of cash in the bank. You are re-structuring. Trying to give yourself a good start to the year. What we need to see from you is delivery of all of these things; getting into production, doubling your production with the addition of Coringa, so it is a case of delivering and doing what you say this year, isn’t it, for you?

Mike Hodgson: It is, but it is not something we haven’t done before; at the end of the day, it is repetition of Palito so we are not leaving our comfort zone, we are just doing the same again.

Matthew Gordon: Step and repeat: cookie cutter approach. Mike, thanks for that update. We will stay in touch and do let us know how you get on with that Preliminary Licence. It sounds like a big step for you.


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.

Serabi Gold - Palito