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Agnico Eagle Reports First Quarter 2020 Results; New 2020 Production and Unit Cost Guidance Issued to Reflect Impact of COVID-19 Temporary Shutdowns at Seven of Eight Mines; Restart and Ramp Up Activities Have Begun at the Five Canadian Mines Positioning Business for Strong Second Half of 2020

Cision

Stock Symbol:  AEM (NYSE and TSX)

(All amounts expressed in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted)

TORONTO, April 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ - Agnico Eagle Mines Limited (NYSE:AEM, TSX:AEM) ("Agnico Eagle" or the "Company") today reported a quarterly net loss of $21.6 million, or net loss of $0.09 per share, for the first quarter of 2020.  This result includes non-cash foreign currency translation losses on deferred tax liabilities of $44.2 million ($0.18 per share), mark-to-market derivative losses on financial instruments of $22.1 million ($0.09 per share), non-cash foreign currency translation losses of $3.8 million ($0.02 per share), costs relating to the temporary suspension of operations of $2.3 million ($0.01 per share) and various other adjustments of $5.2 million($0.02 per share).  Excluding these items would result in adjusted net income1 of $56.0 million or $0.23 per share for the first quarter of 2020.  For the first quarter of 2019, the Company reported net income of $37.0 million or $0.16 per share.

Included in the first quarter of 2020 net loss, and not adjusted above, is a non-cash stock option expense of $6.6 million ($0.03 per share).

In the first quarter of 2020, cash provided by operating activities increased to $163.4 million ($204.8 million before changes in non-cash components of working capital), as compared with the first quarter of 2019 when cash provided by operating activities was $148.7 million ($170.8 million before changes in non-cash components of working capital).

The increase in cash provided by operating activities during the first quarter of 2020, compared to the prior year period, was mainly due to higher gold sales volumes and higher realized gold prices, partially offset by higher costs at the Meadowbank Complex and Meliadine mine which were still ramping up operations during the quarter.  Higher gold sales volumes were largely a result of the increased production due to the commencement of commercial production at Meliadine during May 2019.

The decrease in net income during the first quarter of 2020, compared to the prior year period, was mainly due to non-recurring losses on deferred taxes due to non-cash foreign currency translation, primarily due to the weakening of local currencies during the first quarter of 2020, unrealized losses on derivatives and higher production costs and amortization at the Meadowbank Complex and Meliadine mine, partially offset by higher gold sales volumes and higher realized gold prices.

"The first quarter of 2020 was challenging given the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our gold production and unit costs in March as operations were reduced to minimum activities at all five of our Canadian mines.  Throughout this crisis the health, safety and well-being of all our employees and the communities that we operate in have been our top priority and remain a key focus as we have begun to carefully restart and ramp up our Canadian operations", said Sean Boyd, Agnico Eagle's Chief Executive Officer.  "Furthermore, despite the temporary shutdowns required to manage COVID-19, substantial progress was made in the first quarter at our LaRonde, Meliadine and Amaruq operations.  As a result, we expect to have a strong second half this year with quarterly gold production expected to return to levels similar to the fourth quarter of 2019.  Given the strong gold price and much weaker local currency environment than budgeted, we anticipate generating significant free cash flow in the second half of 2020.  In addition, our dividend has remained unchanged and we declared a quarterly dividend of $0.20 per share", added Mr. Boyd.

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1 Adjusted net income is a non-GAAP measure.  For a discussion regarding the Company's use of non-GAAP measures, please see "Note Regarding Certain Measures of Performance".

 

Agnico Eagle's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Impact on its Business

From the start of the pandemic the Company took immediate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of its employees.  In addition to enhanced screening, hygiene and physical distancing measures, where possible, many employees continue to work remotely.  For the northernmost operations, the Company began testing all its employees for COVID-19 as an additional level of protection against the transmission of the virus.  The Company expects many of these measures to remain in effect for several more months as it moves towards a new way of operating to ensure employees remain safe, comfortable in their work environment and productive.  Although there are additional costs associated with these measures, Agnico Eagle is working on ways to offset these costs moving forward into the second half of the year.

The more immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected gold production and unit costs in the first and second quarter of 2020 as seven of the Company's eight mines were operating at much reduced activity levels at the same time.  The Company has recently begun to gradually ramp up and restart several of its mines allowing it to position the business to return to normal operating conditions.

The following summary outlines the impact of COVID-19 and the current status of the Company's business:

First Quarter and Second Quarter of 2020 Gold Production and Unit Costs Negatively Impacted by COVID-19 Related Shutdowns

In March, the Company sent home its Nunavut-based workforce and reduced its mining activities at Meliadine and Amaruq.  In addition, the Company's operations in Quebec were temporarily suspended for three weeks in March and April 2020.  Post the end of the first quarter of 2020, Agnico Eagle's Mexican operations were also put on temporary suspension.  The Quebec operations progressively restarted on April 15, 2020 and the Mexican operations are expected to restart in early June 2020.  Other than a three-day shutdown of underground operations in March, the Kittila mine in Finland has remained in full operation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, quarterly gold production was lower and unit costs were higher than anticipated due to the temporary shutdowns and reduced mining activities. Payable gold production2  in the first quarter of 2020 was 411,366 ounces (including pre-commercial production ounces of 2,974 (50% basis) at Canadian Malartic from the Barnat deposit) at production costs per ounce of $872, total cash costs per ounce3 of $836 and all-in sustaining costs per ounce4  ("AISC") of $1,099.  Production in the first quarter of 2020 was affected by a nine-day shutdown of the Company's Quebec operations, as mandated by the Quebec Government, and significantly reduced mining activities in Nunavut since March 19, 2020 related to COVID-19 precautionary measures.

2020 Gold Production and Unit Cost Guidance

Gold production for 2020 is expected to be 1.63 to 1.73 million ounces, compared to withdrawn guidance of 1.875 million ounces5.  This gold production guidance for 2020 was reduced due to impacts from COVID-19 related shutdowns.  The Company expects gold production to gradually ramp up in Quebec, Mexico and Nunavut in the second quarter of 2020 and average approximately 480,000 to 500,000 ounces per quarter in the second half of 2020.  The previous gold production guidance for 2021 and 2022 remains unchanged with a mid-point of 2.05 million and 2.10 million ounces, respectively.

Capital expenditures in 2020 are now forecast to be $690 million (compared to previous guidance of $740 million).  Total cash costs per ounce in 2020 are forecast to be $740 to $790 (compared to withdrawn guidance of $725 to $775).  Total cash costs per ounce are expected to be significantly lower in the second half of 2020 at $690 to $740 as a result of the expected increase in gold production.  AISC per ounce in 2020 are now forecast to be $1,025 to $1,075 (compared to previous guidance of $975 to $1,025).  The total cash costs per ounce and AISC per ounce guidance for 2020 were increased due to the substantial reduction in production caused by the temporary suspension of operating activities at seven of the Company's mines, partially offset by favourable moves in foreign exchange rates.

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2 Payable production of a mineral means the quantity of a mineral produced during a period contained in products that have been or will be sold by the Company whether such products are shipped during the period or held as inventory at the end of the period.

3 Total cash costs per ounce is a non-GAAP measure and, unless otherwise specified, is reported on a by-product basis.  For a reconciliation to production costs and for total cash costs on a co-product basis, see "Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Performance Measures" below.  See also "Note Regarding Certain Measures of Performance".

4 All-in-sustaining costs per ounce is a non-GAAP measure and, unless otherwise specified, is reported on a by-product basis.  For a reconciliation to production costs and for all-in sustaining costs on a co-product basis, see "Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Performance Measures" below.  See also "Note Regarding Certain Measures of Performance".

5 On March 24, 2020, with the reduced production activity at the Quebec and Nunavut operations, together with the uncertainties with respect to future developments, including the duration, severity and scope of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to contain the pandemic, Agnico Eagle withdrew its full year 2020 production and cash costs guidance released on February 13, 2020.

 

Operational Updates

Prior to the impacts of COVID-19, the Company had made good progress in the first quarter of 2020 at the LaRonde, Meliadine and Amaruq mines in completing the planned work to improve operating conditions at these sites.  A summary of the status of these operations follows:

  • Infrastructure upgrades completed in the West mine area at LaRonde – Since early January 2020, work has been ongoing to upgrade the ground support in the West mine area at LaRonde and production progressively resumed in this higher-grade area in late April 2020.  At LaRonde Zone 5 ("LZ5"), the Company is evaluating an expansion of the mining rate to 3,000 tonnes per day ("tpd") (previous guidance of 2,800 tpd) and automated mucking and hauling has already exceeded the target of 15% of 2020 tonnage

  • Mining activities in Nunavut expected to ramp up in the second quarter of 2020 – On March 19, 2020, the Company sent home its Nunavut based workforce and significantly reduced its mining activities at Meliadine and Amaruq. To minimize the COVID-19 impact, the Company has changed the rotation of its employees to 28 days from 14 days.  Mining and milling activities at both operations are expected to progressively ramp up to full capacity in June 2020


First Quarter Financial and Production Highlights

In the first quarter of 2020, quarterly payable gold production was 411,366 ounces, which includes the pre-commercial gold production from the Barnat deposit at Canadian Malartic, compared to 398,217 ounces in the first quarter of 2019.

The higher level of gold production in the first quarter of 2020, when compared with the prior-year period, was primarily due to increased production at the Meliadine mine, which achieved commercial production in May 2019.  A detailed description of the production at each mine is set out below.

Production costs per ounce in the first quarter of 2020 were $872, compared to $727 in the prior-year period.  Total cash costs per ounce in the first quarter of 2020 were $836, compared to $623 in the prior-year period.

Production costs per ounce and total cash costs per ounce in the first quarter of 2020 increased when compared to the prior-year period primarily due to higher costs at the Meadowbank Complex and Meliadine mine which were still ramping up operations during the quarter, partially offset by higher gold production.

AISC in the first quarter of 2020 was $1,099 per ounce, compared to $836 in the prior-year period.  AISC in the first quarter of 2020 increased when compared to the prior-year periods primarily due to higher total cash costs per ounce and higher sustaining capital costs, partially offset by higher gold production.  A detailed description of the cost performance of each mine is set out below.

Production and costs in the first quarter of 2020 were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 shutdowns as previously discussed.

Cash Position and Financial Flexibility are Strong; Credit Rating Upgraded

Cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments increased to $1,263.4 million at March 31, 2020, from the December 31, 2019 balance of $327.9 million, primarily as a result of the drawdown on the Company's unsecured revolving bank credit facility, as discussed below.  Not including the drawdown on the Company's unsecured revolving bank credit facility, cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments decreased to $263.4 million at March 31, 2020, from the December 31, 2019 balance of $327.9 million.

In March 2020, the Company drew down $1.0 billion on its $1.2 billion unsecured revolving bank credit facility as a cautionary measure given the current uncertainty with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Based on current market conditions and the timing of the ramp up of its mines, the Company repaid $500 million outstanding on its credit facility at the end of April 2020.  The remaining $500 million drawn under the credit facility is expected to be repaid in the second half of 2020.

On April 7, 2020, the Company entered into a note purchase agreement with certain institutional investors, providing for the issuance of $200 million of notes with a weighted average maturity of 11 years and a weighted average interest rate of 2.83%.  The other terms of the notes are substantially the same as the terms of the existing outstanding notes of the Company.  The Company used the proceeds from this note offering to repay a portion of its $360 million 6.67% Series B senior notes that were due on April 7, 2020.  The remaining balance of the senior notes was repaid with the Company's existing cash balances.

During the first quarter of 2020, DBRS Morningstar upgraded the Company's investment grade credit rating to BBB from BBB (low) and changed the trend to Stable from Positive, reflecting the Company's strong financial risk profile.  Additionally in April 2020, Fitch Ratings issued its inaugural credit rating for Agnico Eagle, assigning a rating of BBB with a Stable Outlook considering the Company's strong credit and growing production profile.  These ratings have reduced funding costs on the Company's credit facility.

During the first quarter of 2020, the Company opportunistically increased its currency and diesel hedge positions to support its key input costs used in budgeting and mine planning assumptions.  As of March 31, 2020, approximately 56% of the Company's remaining 2020 Canadian dollar exposure is hedged at an average floor price of approximately 1.34 C$/US$ and approximately 20% of the Company's 2021 Canadian dollar exposure is hedged at an average floor price of approximately 1.37 C$/US$.

As of March 31, 2020, approximately 42% of the Company's remaining 2020 Mexican peso exposure is hedged at an average floor price of approximately 20.30 MXP/US$ and approximately 40% of the Company's 2021 Mexican peso exposure is hedged at an average floor price of approximately 21.30 MXP/US$.  Approximately 10% of the Company's remaining 2020 Euro exposure is hedged at an average floor price of approximately 1.13 US$/EUR.  All of these hedge positions compare favourably to the Company's assumptions of 1.30 C$/US$, 18.00 MXP/US$ and 1.15 US$/EUR provided in the news release dated February 13, 2020.

As of March 31, 2020, over 90% of the Company's remaining diesel exposure relating to its Nunavut operations for 2020 is hedged ahead of its assumption of C$0.85 per litre (excluding transportation costs) used in preparation of its 2020 guidance by approximately 15%.  In addition, approximately 35% and 20% of the Company's 2021 and 2022 diesel exposure, respectively, relating to its Nunavut operations is similarly hedged at prices significantly ahead of 2020 guidance and mine planning assumptions.  As of March 31, 2020, the mark-to-market valuation of the total currency and diesel hedge positions resulted in an unrealized loss of approximately $38.4 million ($22.1 million, net of tax), which was excluded from normalized earnings.  The Company will continue to monitor market conditions and anticipates continuing to add to its operating currency and diesel hedges to support its key input costs.

Capital Expenditures

Total capital expenditures (including sustaining capital) for the full year 2020 are now forecast to be approximately $690 million (compared to previous guidance of $740 million).  The capital expenditure guidance for 2020 was reduced primarily due to a decrease in underground development costs at various operations due to temporary COVID-19 shutdowns (approximately $14 million) and the deferral of development costs associated with the Amaruq underground project (approximately $10 million).  In addition, the Kittila shaft expansion has been delayed for at least three months due to contractor travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic (which is expected to result in a decrease in capital expenditures in 2020 of approximately $6 million).  The foreign exchange benefit of weakening local currencies also reduced the expected 2020 capital expenditure guidance.

During the first quarter of 2020, the Company incurred additional capital expenditures relating to the repurchase of a 2% net smelter return royalty on the Hammond Reef project ($12 million). These additional capital expenditures were offset by the foreign exchange benefit of weakening local currencies previously mentioned.

The Company continues to evaluate opportunities to decrease capital expenditures further in 2020.

The following table sets out capital expenditures (including sustaining capital) in the first quarter of 2020.

...

Capital Expenditures




(In thousands of US dollars)






Three Months Ended




March 31, 2020


Sustaining Capital




LaRonde Complex


$

15,054


Canadian Malartic mine



12,264


Meadowbank Complex



13,587


Meliadine mine



9,056


Kittila mine



7,417


Goldex mine



6,379


Pinos Altos mine



4,782


Creston Mascota mine