Dave Henderson is currently contracted to Hummingbird Resources as their Client Consultations Manager at the Yanfolila Gold Project in Mali, West Africa. 
 
Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked country in West Africa, a region geologically identified with the West African Craton. It's the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometres and a population of  around 17.99 million (2016) and is an old French colony. So French is the official language and the currency is the West African CFA franc. 
 
 

In January 2012, Tuareg tribesmen of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) began a rebellion against Mali's central government. In April, it called off its offensive proclaiming the independence of Azawad. In June 2012, the MNLA came into conflict with the Islamist groups Ansar Dine and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), after the Islamists began imposing Sharia in Azawad.

Throughout 2012 MOJWA and Ansar Dine pushed the MNLA out of all the major cities and towns. 

Operation Serval followed the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2085 of December 20th 2012 and an official request by the Malian interim government for French military assistance. The operation ended on July 15th 2014, and was replaced by Operation Barkhane, launched on August 1st 2014 to fight Islamist fighters in the Sahel.[Three of the five Islamic leaders, were killed, and the other two fled the country. 

UN Peacekeepers are now  based in the nation's Capital Barmako and have their fair share of violence from the extreme elements, but so far Dave hasn't found this to be so at the mine site which is a rugged six hours or so drive away from the Capital. Nevertheless there  are eight (8) gendarmes on site  and as the time for the first gold pour approaches, it's expected that these numbers will be boosted significantly.   

The greatest danger however is from mosquito borne cerebral malaria and so it's essential to religiously take anti malarial medicine, cover up and sleep under a mosquito net. 

The site has two doctors on a six weeks, six weeks off rotation. They are amongst the group below who are about to embark on a Hash Harriers Walk (it's too darn hot to run). The short sleeves suggest a rather cavalier approach to the risk of mossie bites. Perhaps they are spraying themselves with powerful repellants (80% DEET)  as Dave religiously does. 

The expats are accommodated on site in reasonable accommodation.

 

But with "unreasonable food". Dave lost 4kgs on his first rotation and will be taking a boatload of goodies back with him when he returns. In the meantime it's tempting to fill up on the local bread produced in third world and less than sanitary, conditions.

Hummingbird Resources was founded in November 2005 by Daniel Betts . His family's business was founded in 1760 and is the oldest privately-owned gold bullion smelters and reļ¬ners in the country. 
 
The Yanfolila Gold Project is a low cost, high grade, open pit mining operation, with first gold production targeted for 2017. It was purchased from Goldfields Limited, one of the world's largest mining companies headquartered in Johannesburg, The project employs  around 500 workers and uses 6000 litres of diesel a day.
 
 
 
 
Dave explained how the ore is processed. For all the details CLICK HERE. He expects the first gold pour will occur in early December and is sworn to secrecy as to how it will be got out of the land locked country.  
 
Local villagers have their own way of (illegally) getting the gold through panning ore brought in to the village by the womenfolk in buckets. Attempts have been made to stamp this out, but in the end it was decided to let the villages be. They also need to be let be with photos unless they have first give their approval. This is because they fear their spirits will be taken away. 
 
 
The site is serviced by African Mining Services. It's a subsidiary of Henderson  based Brandrill Limited and provides a complete range of surface contract mining services to resource companies in Africa.