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Ascendant Resources Reports Strong Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2018 Results

(All dollar amounts are in U.S. dollars (“$”) unless otherwise specified)

2018 Full Year Highlights

  • 2018 contained metal production increased 38% vs 2017 to 91.4 million ZnEq1 lbs
  • Revenues of $85.62 million, an increase of 45% over 2017
  • Direct operating cost of $78.98/t, a decrease of 10% from 2017
  • Adjusted EBITDA of $13.49 million for first year of normalized operations
  • Net income of $3.01 million or earnings per share of $0.04 in 2018
  • Higher grades expected to drive a 10% increase over 2018 ZnEq production
  • Continued exploration success at El Mochito and Lagoa Salgada demonstrate further upside potential

Q4 2018 Highlights

  • Contained metal production of 23.2 million ZnEq lbs, up 18% vs Q4 2017
  • Record ZnEq grade of 7.0%, a 32% improvement over Q4 2017

TORONTO, March 20, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ascendant Resources Inc. (ASND.TO) (OTCQX: ASDRF; FRA: 2D9) ("Ascendant" or the "Company”) reports fourth quarter and full year 2018 results, highlighted by record grades of 7% zinc equivalent (“ZnEq”) in the fourth quarter and total contained metal production of 91.4 million ZnEq pounds for the full year of 2018. For 2018, the Company achieved adjusted EBITDA of $13.49 million and net income of $3.01 million, or earnings per share of $0.04, in its first year of normalized operations at the El Mochito mine in Honduras. Operations are well positioned for further improvements driven by higher-grades, as demonstrated by 2019 guidance.

President and CEO Chris Buncic stated: “We are very pleased with the continued improvement achieved at El Mochito in 2018. Throughout this first year of normalized operations, the mine has demonstrated its ability to sustain elevated production levels and deliver improved head grades as demonstrated by record grades in the fourth quarter, a testament of efforts to strictly control dilution at the mine. A strong fourth quarter has paved the way for greater production growth in 2019, with mean guidance up 10% over 2018 production levels.”

He continued, “While we remain optimistic with metals prices, which have already shown improvement thus far in 2019, the Company remains focused on long-term profitability and looks forward to continuing to drive value creation through further growth in production with a continued emphasis on improved grades. In addition, the Company continues to advance the expansion project at El Mochito while growing the resource base and is very excited to continue progressing the Lagoa Salgada project in Portugal.”

A summary of key operational and financial performance for the fourth quarter and full year 2018 is provided in the tables below:

        Three Months Ended Year Ended  
Key Operating Information     December 31, December 31,  
          2018     2017     2018     2017    
Total Tonnes Mined   tonnes     187,533       197,303       758,067       657,287    
              -         
Total Tonnes Milled   tonnes     184,913       198,354       756,034       656,291    
              -         
Average Head Grades              
  Average Zn grade   %   4.2 %   3.7 %   4.3 %   3.5 %  
  Average Pb grade   %   1.9 %   1.4 %   1.7 %   1.4 %  
  Average Silver grade   g/t     77       34       54       42    
  ZnEq Head grade (1 ) %   7.0 %   5.3 %   6.5 %   5.4 %  
                 
Average Recoveries              
  Zinc   %   84.1 %   88.5 %   88.0 %   88.9 %  
  Lead   %   77.6 %   74.6 %   77.8 %   74.2 %  
  Silver   %   76.6 %   75.0 %   77.9 %   77.4 %  
              -         
Contained Metal Production              
  Zinc    000's lbs     14,435       14,133       62,658       45,054    
  Lead   000's lbs     6,023       4,556       21,810       14,905    
  Silver   ozs     347,251       169,039       1,001,514       698,506    
  ZnEq (1 ) 000's lbs     23,173       19,576       91,429       66,120    
              -         
Payable Production              
  Zinc 0.85   000's lbs     12,270       12,013       53,259       38,296    
  Lead 0.95   000's lbs     5,722       4,328       20,719       14,159    
  Silver 0.7   ozs     243,076       118,327       701,060       488,954    
  ZnEq (1 ) 000's lbs     19,697       16,640       77,715       56,202    
              -         
Payable Metal Sold              
  Zinc   000's lbs     14,636       11,007       55,427       35,626    
  Lead   000's lbs     5,231       6,191       22,466       12,075    
  Silver   ozs     243,413       162,619       782,960       460,980    
  ZnEq (1 ) 000's lbs     21,511       17,599       81,871       50,725    
              -         
Average Realized Metal Price              
  Zinc   $/lb $ 1.18   $ 1.46   $ 1.31   $ 1.36    
  Lead   $/lb $ 0.89   $ 1.13   $ 1.00   $ 1.06    
  Silver   $/oz $ 14.51   $ 16.99   $ 15.34   $ 17.17    
              -         
Cash operating cost per ZnEq payable lb sold (2 ) $/ZnEq lb $ 0.83   $ 1.03   $ 0.79   $ 1.05    
AISC per ZnEq payable lb sold (2 ) $/ZnEq lb $ 1.28   $ 1.54   $ 1.31   $ 1.62    
Direct operating cost per tonne milled (excl. CAPEX) (2 ) $/tonne $ 85.38   $ 80.13   $ 78.98   $ 88.22    
(1 ) Assumes average spot metal prices for the period.              
(2 ) This is a non-IFRS performance measure, see Non-IFRS Performance Measures section of the MD&A.              
                 
        Three Months Ended Year Ended  
Financial     December 31, December 31,  
          2018     2017     2018     2017    
  Total revenue   $000's     21,564       23,934       85,618       59,199    
  Mine operating expenses   $000's     22,009       20,336       74,162       59,248    
  Income (loss) from mining operations   $000's     (444 )     3,598       11,456       (49 )  
  Net income (loss)   $000's     (3,020 )     (1,429 )     3,005       (12,057 )  
  Adjusted EBITDA (2 ) $000's     (115 )     2,280       13,492       (2,496 )  
  Operating cash flow before movements in working capital (2 ) $000's     (187 )     594       10,868       (5,827 )  
  Operating cash flow   $000's     (273 )     5,825       16,276       (6,467 )  
  Cash and cash equivalents   $000's     3,808       8,041       3,808       8,041    
  Working capital   $000's     (7,110 )     12,506       (7,110 )     12,506    
  Capital Expenditures   $000's     3,620       5,077       21,943       13,445    
(1 ) Assumes average spot metal prices for the period.              
(2 ) This is a non-IFRS performance measure, see Non-IFRS Performance Measures section of the MD&A.              
                 

Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2018 Operational Performance

During the fourth quarter 2018, contained ZnEq metal production was 23.2 million pounds, an 18% increase over fourth quarter 2017 production of 19.6 million pounds and relatively in-line with third quarter 2018 production of 23.9 million pounds. Contained metal production for the full year 2018 totalled 91.4 million pounds of ZnEq metal, in-line with the Company’s revised production guidance. This comprised of 62.7 million pounds of zinc, 21.8 million pounds of lead and just over one million ounces of silver. Overall production represents a 38% increase over 2017 contained metal production of 66.1 million pounds of ZnEq.

Milled production for the fourth quarter 2018 was 184,913 tonnes, representing a slight decrease of 4% over the previous quarter of 191,738 tonnes and a decrease of 7% over the fourth quarter 2017 of 198,354 tonnes. Milled throughput for the year was 756,034 tonnes, an increase of 15% over 2017 milled throughput of 656,291 tonnes.

In the fourth quarter 2018, the Company achieved a record ZnEq head grade of 7.0%, a 32% increase over the fourth quarter 2017 head grade of 5.3% ZnEq and a 4% increase over the 6.7% ZnEq achieved in the third quarter 2018. The main driver behind the increase in ZnEq grades were the silver grades, which increased to 77 g/t, a 126% increase over the 34 g/t achieved in the fourth quarter 2017 and a 71% increase over the 45 g/t in the third quarter 2018. The significantly higher silver grades are a result of an increased focus on dilution control and the increase in conventional mining of narrow, high-grade areas in the mine. Zinc grades of 4.2% were slightly lower compared to the previous quarter of 4.5%, while lead grades of 1.9% showed a 12% increase over the 1.7% achieved in the previous quarter. As the Company heads into 2019, we expect to continue to focus on newly defined zones of higher-grade mineralization to support higher overall metal production rates. The average head grade for the full year 2018 was 6.5% ZnEq, an increase of 20% over the average head grade of 5.4% in 2017. Note that conventional mining techniques generally have a higher cost per tonne mined, but with higher head grades, can translate into an improved cost structure based on a cost per pound payable metal basis.

Zinc recovery for the fourth quarter was 84.1%, down 5% and 4% against fourth quarter 2017 and third quarter 2018 respectively. Recoveries for lead and silver were 77.6% and 76.6% respectively, consistent with previous performance.

For the full year 2018, recoveries averaged 88.0% for zinc, 77.8% for lead and 77.9% for silver. The lower than expected zinc recoveries in the fourth quarter are attributable to the more complex metallurgy seen in some of the higher-grade ore bodies. The Company’s metallurgical team is evaluating potential solutions to this challenge.

Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2017 Financial Performance

Financial results for the three months ended December 31, 2018 with 21.5 million zinc equivalent pounds sold resulted in a loss from mining operations of $0.44 million. For the whole of 2018, the Company sold a total of 81.9 million zinc equivalent pounds realizing income from mining operations of $11.46 million. Average realized metal prices for the quarter were $1.18 per pound of zinc, $0.89 per pound of lead and $14.51 per ounce of silver and for the year were $1.31 per pound of zinc, $1.00 per pound of lead and $15.34 per ounce of silver.

The Company generated revenues of $21.56 million in the fourth quarter 2018 as a result of the sale of 21.5 million pounds of ZnEq metal, comprised of 14.6 million pounds of payable zinc in concentrates, 5.2 million pounds of payable lead in concentrates and 243,413 ounces of payable silver in concentrates. Revenues for the quarter were down 10% over the fourth quarter 2017, yet up 61% from the third quarter 2018, as a result of the fluctuation in metal prices for the comparative quarters. Total revenue for 2018 was $85.62 million, an increase of 45% over total revenues of $59.20 million in 2017.

Net loss and basic and diluted loss per share in fourth quarter 2018 were $3.02 million and $0.04 respectively, compared to $1.43 million and $0.02 in the fourth quarter 2017, and $3.85 million and $0.05 respectively in the third quarter 2018. Loss from mining operations for the quarter was $0.44 million. Net income for 2018 was $3.01 million, or a basic and diluted earnings per share of $0.04, compared to a net loss of $12.06 million, or a basic and diluted loss per share of $0.18 for 2017.

Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter 2018 resulted in a loss of $0.12 million, compared to positive adjusted EBITDA of $2.28 million in the fourth quarter 2017 and a loss in the third quarter 2018 of $1.73 million. Adjusted EBITDA for 2018 totalled $13.49 million, compared to adjusted EBITDA of negative $2.50 million for 2017. The cash balance exiting 2018 was $3.81 million.

Direct operating costs per tonne milled for the fourth quarter 2018 at El Mochito were $85.38, a 7% increase vs fourth quarter 2017 direct operating costs per tonne milled of $80.13, and a 5% increase vs third quarter 2018 direct operating costs per tonne milled of $81.66. Direct operating costs per tonne increased in the latter part of the calendar year, primarily impacting the fourth quarter, due to the increased national power rates which took effect in September, and the increase in labour costs as a result of the 6% wage increase in compliance with the collective bargaining agreement with the unionized workforce at the mine that took place in the fourth quarter. Also contributing to the higher operating costs per tonne this quarter was the increased proportion of conventional mining required to mine higher-grade chimney ore, which in turn reduced the operating cost per pound of metal produced.

Direct operating costs per tonne milled for the full year 2018 averaged $78.98, representing a 10% decrease from $88.22 in 2017 and in line with the Company’s 2018 cost guidance. The overall improvement in costs throughout 2018 are attributable to the Company’s ongoing focus on cost reduction. One of the Company’s initiatives was the bypass development to Esperanza completed this February, which now allows shorter access to this orebody, significantly reducing the ore hauling distance and cost from this area. The Company is also evaluating alternatives to reduce power costs over the long-term. The Company expects to see further reductions going forward as highlighted by 2019 cost guidance of $70-80/t.

Cash operating cost per zinc equivalent payable pound sold for the quarter was $0.83, representing a decrease of 19% from $1.03 in the fourth quarter 2017 and an increase of 15% from $0.72 in the third quarter 2018. All-In Sustaining Cost for the fourth quarter was $1.28 per zinc equivalent payable pound sold, representing a 17% decrease from the fourth quarter 2017 of $1.54 and an increase of 6% over the previous quarter of $1.21.

Costs on a per ZnEq pound basis for the year showed an improvement as a result of higher grades mined during the year resulting in increased contained metal production. Cash operating cost per zinc equivalent payable pound sold was $0.79 for the full year 2018, down 25% from $1.05 per pound for 2017.  The AISC for the full year 2018 was $1.31 per zinc equivalent payable pound sold, down 19% from 2017. The Company announced in the first quarter 2018 that given the steady state of production achieved, entering its first full year of normalized production, it has adopted the AISC reporting metric.

El Mochito Expansion Preliminary Economic Assessment

In the fourth quarter 2018, the Company announced the results of a Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) for the expansion of the El Mochito mine.

The PEA outlines a substantial Internal Rate of Return (“IRR”) with a payback period of just under two years. The PEA further presents a robust and compelling opportunity for the Company to position El Mochito as a long-term profitable operation reducing the AISC at El Mochito down to an average of $0.97 per payable ZnEq pound produced. The PEA assumes a mine life of 10 years inclusive of Inferred Mineral Resources, notably excluding any additional Mineral Resources added from the 2018 exploration program.

On February 6, 2019, the Company announced the receipt of a non-binding term sheet from Overseas Private Investment Corporation (“OPIC”), for a project loan of US$35 million to American Pacific Honduras S.A. de C.V., the Company’s operating subsidiary in Honduras, to finance the expansion of the El Mochito mine. The financing has a proposed 7-year term and covers the total financing requirements for the expansion program including mine development expansion, a new underground shaft, underground water pumping upgrades and mill upgrades. The term sheet is non-binding and bears no legal obligation by any of the parties until definitive agreements have been made. The loan is subject to the completion of OPIC’s due diligence, additional documentation, internal approvals and certain other conditions.

Highlights of the Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Expansion Project include:

  • Increase in processed tonnes to 2,800 per day (approximately 1 million tonnes per annum)
  • Increased average annual contained ZnEq1 production to 126 million lbs per year
  • Reduction in average annual operating costs to $61.85/t processed and $0.58/lb ZnEq payable
  • Reduction in average mine AISC to $0.97/lb payable ZnEq produced
  • $83M project NPV8% incrementally added to El Mochito cash flow
  • 58% project IRR after taxes and royalties
  • $32.8 million project capex funded through non-dilutive financing
  • 2-year project construction and commissioning period

For more details, please see the Technical Report that can be found on the Company’s website at www.ascendantresources.com or on SEDAR www.sedar.com

El Mochito Exploration Activities

Ascendant continued its exploration activities at the El Mochito mine during the year. The 2018 program targeted the following areas; Esperanza, Port Royal Manto, Santa Barbara, Santa Elena, Porvenir, Palmar Dyke, Nueva Este, Victoria and San Juan, most of which are located in the eastern portion of the mine, with the overall goal of expanding the size of these orebodies. The program also targeted exploration targets in untested areas that new development opened access to, with a focus on new chimney mineralization discovery.

Results released in Q4 2018 from an additional 54 diamond drill holes, or 10,410 metres, split between step-out (64%) and in-fill (36%) drilling, continued to deliver high-grade intercepts, well above the average current Mineral Resource grade. These drill holes were more focused on follow up work on the extension of the eastern orebodies of the mine. (see press release dated October 31, 2018)

Lagoa Salgada Acquisition, Exploration and Resource Growth

In June 2018, Ascendant entered into an agreement to acquire an interest and option in the Lagoa Salgada high-grade polymetallic VMS project located on the northern part of the Iberian Pyrite Belt (“IPB”) in Portugal. The Project represents a low-cost entry opportunity in this prolific region to gain exposure to a known, high-grade VMS deposit that has significant exploration potential to further expand the resource in the near term. Transaction summary and details of the Company’s acquisition of the interest and option in the Lagoa Salgada project can be found in the Company’s press release dated August 1, 2018.

The Iberian Pyrite Belt is host to some of the world’s largest VMS deposits and mines such as Neves-Corvo (Lundin Mining Corporation), Aguas Tenidas (Trafigura Mining Group) and Aljustrel (private). It represents the largest concentration of massive sulphide deposits in the world, forming an arch through Portugal and Spain about 240 km long and 35 km wide and has produced more than 300 million tonnes of massive sulfide ore over the past hundred years.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, Ascendant continued its exploration program at the Lagoa Salgada Project. The results of the 2018 program lead to an updated National Instrument 43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate the Company announced on February 13, 2019. The updated Mineral Resource Estimate demonstrates material growth in both the North Zone (Main Massive Sulphide) and the South Zone (Stockwork) deposits following a modest 7,077 metre drill program consisting of 20 drill holes. Both zones coincide with an Induced Polarization (IP) chargeability anomaly with a strike length of 1.6km and have now been delineated by less than a total of 50 holes.

In addition to drilling, the exploration program includes downhole geophysics, relogging and assaying of historical drilling in the area and a complete structural reinterpretation of the property in the context of the overall regional geology. Given the structural controls seen at similar deposits within the IPB, the latter will aid in the development of the exploration program over the entire land package. For further details, please refer to the Company’s press release dated February 13, 2019.

The updated Mineral Resource Estimate for the Lagoa Salgada project is set out in the tables below:

Lagoa Salgada Total Mineral Resource Estimate

   

Mineralized
Zones
  Average Grade
Category Tonnes ZnEq Cu Zn Pb Sn Ag Au
  kt % % % % % g/t g/t
Measured All 1,761 11.02 0.38 3.09 3.19 0.15 62.41 0.84
Indicated All 6,082 7.61 0.50 2.09 1.84 0.09 48.61 0.40
M + I All 7,843 8.38 0.47 2.31 2.15 0.10 51.71 0.50
Inferred All 12,823 6.37 0.36 1.68 1.63 0.04 38.62 0.61

North Deposit Mineral Resource Estimate

      Average Grade
Category Mineralized Tonnes ZnEq Cu Zn Pb Sn Ag Au
   Zones kt % % % % % g/t g/t
Measured GO 177 11.65 0.15 0.65 4.12 0.40 54.14 1.55
MS 1,584 10.95 0.40 3.36 3.09 0.12 63.33 0.76
Total 1,761 11.02 0.38 3.09 3.19 0.15 62.41 0.84
Indicated GO 451 7.86 0.13 0.52 3.07 0.30 35.10 0.67
MS 3,842 8.81 0.51 2.37 2.12 0.10 61.51 0.52
Total 4,293 8.71 0.47 2.18 2.22 0.12 58.73 0.54
M + I GO 628 8.93 0.14 0.56 3.37 0.33 40.47 0.92
MS 5,426 9.43 0.48 2.66 2.40 0.11 62.04 0.59
Total 6,054 9.38 0.44 2.44 2.50 0.13 59.80 0.63
Inferred GO 1,546 7.03 0.10 0.43 3.69 0.14 32.44 0.67
MS 5,911 7.78 0.36 2.31 1.96 0.05 57.08 0.58
SW 390 3.68 0.39 1.42 0.42 0.03 19.14 0.09
Total 7,847 7.43 0.31 1.90 2.22 0.07 50.34 0.58

Central Deposit Mineral Resource Estimate

      Average Grade
Category Mineralized Tonnes ZnEq Cu Zn Pb Sn Ag Au
   Zone kt % % % % % g/t g/t
Inferred Total 1,078 5.41 0.11 0.17 0.06 0.00 12.15 2.89

South Deposit Mineral Resource Estimate

      Average Grade
Category Mineralized Tonnes ZnEq Cu Zn Pb Sn Ag Au
  Zones  kt % % % % % g/t g/t
Indicated SW2 1,789 4.99 0.58 1.88 0.95 0.00 24.33 0.07
Inferred SW2 3,899 4.50 0.52 1.65 0.89 0.00 22.36 0.06

Notes to tables:
(1) Mineralized Zones, GO=Gossan, MS=Massive Sulphide, SW=Stringer, SW2=Stockwork
(2) Cut-off: Zn-Eq ≥ 3.00%
(3) Zn-Eq = [Zn%]+([Cu%]*2.652)+([Pb%]*0.913)+([Au g/t]*1.585)+([Ag g/t]*0.025)+([Sn%]*7.565)
(4) Densities: GO = 3.11, MS = 4.85, SW = 2.91, SW2 = 2.91
(5) The Mineral Resource content for Lagoa Salgada was completed and approved by Charlie Murahwi, M.Sc., P.Geo., Pr. Sci. Nat., FAusIMM, Senior Geologist, Micon International Ltd.

Other Corporate Highlights

On August 24, 2018, the company announced the closing of a $5 million short-term revolving credit facility between its wholly owned subsidiary, American Pacific Honduras S.A. de C.V, and Banco Financiera Comercial Hondurena S.A. (“Ficohsa”) based out of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Demonstrating strong local support and solidifying additional in-country partnerships. The credit facility was exercised throughout the year for working capital and other general corporate purposes.

In December 2018, Ascendant expanded its management team with the appointment of Robert Campbell to the position of Vice President, Exploration. Mr. Campbell is an exploration geologist with over 40 years experience in mining and exploration in Canada, the United States and Latin America.

In Q3 2018, Mr. Kurt Menchen was appointed Chairman of the Health, Safety and Technical Committee replacing Mr. Renaud Adams. Mr. Menchen is a well accomplished mining engineer with over 40 years’ experience of successfully building and operating mines in Latin America.

2019 Guidance and Outlook

2019 production guidance is provided in the table below:

Contained Metals in Concentrate
Zinc equivalent metal 90 – 110 million lbs
Zinc 65 – 75 million lbs
Lead 21 – 26 million lbs
Silver 850,000 – 1,200,000 ozs
Direct Operating Costs $70 – $80 / tonne
Capital Expenditure $15 – $20 million
   

Suppressed metal prices persisted throughout the second half of 2018 as pressure from global trade tensions and uncertainty over Chinese growth and inventories intensified. While it is the Company’s view that the fundamentals remain little changed and continue to strongly support structural supply deficits for the next few years due to a continued depletion in global inventories for base metals, the Company remains dedicated to further cost reductions to generate robust profitability in any reasonable metals price environment.

The PEA for the expansion of the El Mochito mine demonstrates the Company’s dedication and focus on delivering long-term profitability and the ability to operate at an all-in sustaining cost of $0.97 per ZnEq pound, well below long term metal price assumptions. 

As mentioned above, the Company continues its discussions with OPIC to complete the non-dilutive project loan laid out in the indicative term sheet received to finance the PEA expansion program at El Mochito.

The Company is also currently in advanced negotiations with local and international institutions to secure additional non-dilutive financing opportunities to support working capital in the short term.

The Company is planning further exploration at El Mochito in 2019 for both infill and exploration drilling. The infill drilling program has the goal of upgrading Inferred Mineral Resources and further extending the mine life of El Mochito while the exploration drilling program will continue to explore untested areas with the purpose of discovering the next large, high grade chimney. Additional exploration development and drilling is expected to take place in the old upper levels of the mine, which has the potential to materially increase resource tonnage at very high grades, mostly derived from remnant pillars and undeveloped “chimney” type ore zones. Ascendant plans to rehabilitate and mine these pillars where possible.

The Company is also focusing exploration work on regional targets on El Mochito’s 10,000-hectare land package. El Mochito is an example of a high-temperature carbonate replacement deposit and despite the long history of operations the source of the deposit has not yet been identified indicating significant exploration potential and warranting follow up on the numerous identified targets within the land package.

With the success of the exploration program at Lagoa Salgada, doubling total tonnes in the updated Mineral Resource estimate, the Company will look to develop and execute a follow up exploration program later this year, with the intention of further advancing the project with a target to complete a Preliminary Economic Assessment by year end.

Conference Call Details

A conference call will be held tomorrow, March 21, 2019, at 10:00am EDT to discuss fourth quarter and full year 2018 operational and financial results.

Dial-in Details:
Date of Call: Thursday, March 21, 2019
Time of Call: 10:00am EDT
Conference ID: 8795685
Dial-In Numbers:
North American Toll-Free: 1-833-696-8362
International: 1-612-979-9908

A recorded playback of the conference call will be available from March 21, 2019 until April 21, 2019 and can be accessed on the Company’s website at www.ascendantresources.com within the Investors section.

The information provided within this release should be read in conjunction with Ascendant’s unaudited condensed consolidated interim financial statements and management's discussion and analysis for the year ended December 31, 2017, which are available on Ascendant’s website and on SEDAR. As at January 1, 2017, the Company has changed its presentation currency to the U.S. dollar (US). All financial figures are in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

Technical Disclosure/Qualified Person

All technical information contained herein has been reviewed and approved by Robert A. Campbell, M.Sc, P.Geo, a director of the Company. Mr. Campbell is a "qualified person" within the meaning of NI 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”).

About Ascendant Resources Inc.

Ascendant is a Toronto-based mining company focused on its 100%-owned producing El Mochito zinc, lead and silver mine in west-central Honduras and its high-grade polymetallic Lagoa Salgada VMS Project located in the prolific Iberian Pyrite Belt in Portugal.

After acquiring the El Mochito mine in December 2016, Ascendant spent 2017 and 2018 implementing a rigorous and successful optimization program restoring the historic potential of El Mochito, a mine in production since 1948, to deliver record levels of production with profitability restored. The Company now remains focused on further cost reduction and operational improvements to drive profitability in 2019 and beyond. With a significant land package of approximately 11,000 hectares in Honduras and an abundance of historical data, there are several near-mine and regional targets providing longer term exploration upside which could lead to further Mineral Resource growth.

Ascendant holds an interest in the high-grade polymetallic Lagoa Salgada VMS Project located in the prolific Iberian Pyrite Belt in Portugal. The Company is engaged in exploration of the Project with the goal of expanding the already-substantial Mineral Resource Estimate of over 20 million tonnes and testing additional known targets as defined by the 2018 exploration program. The Company’s acquisition of its interest in the Lagoa Salgada Project offers a low-cost entry point to a potentially significant exploration and development opportunity. The Company holds an additional option to increase its interest in the Project upon completion of certain milestones.

Ascendant Resources is engaged in the ongoing evaluation of producing and development stage mineral resource opportunities, on an ongoing basis. The Company's common shares are principally listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "ASND". For more information on Ascendant Resources, please visit our website at www.ascendantresources.com.

Neither the Toronto Stock Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

For further information please contact:

Katherine Pryde
Director, Communications & Investor Relations
Tel: 888-723-7413 
info@ascendantresources.com

Cautionary Notes to US Investors

The information concerning the Company’s mineral properties has been prepared in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 (“NI-43-101”) adopted by the Canadian Securities Administrators.  In accordance with NI-43-101, the terms “mineral reserves”, “proven mineral reserve”, “probable mineral reserve”, “mineral resource”, “measured mineral resource”, “indicated mineral resource” and “inferred mineral resource” are defined in the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (the “CIM”) Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves adopted by the CIM Council on May 10, 2014.  While the terms “mineral resource”, “measured mineral resource”, “indicated mineral resource” and “inferred mineral resource” are recognized and required by NI 43-101, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) does not recognize them.  The reader is cautioned that, except for that portion of mineral resources classified as mineral reserves, mineral resources do not have demonstrated economic value.  Inferred mineral resources have a high degree of uncertainty as to their existence and as to whether they can be economically or legally mined.  It cannot be assumed that all or any part of any inferred mineral resource will ever be upgraded to a higher category.  Therefore, the reader is cautioned not to assume that all or any part of an inferred mineral resource exists, that it can be economically or legally mined, or that it will ever be upgraded to a higher category.  Likewise, you are cautioned not to assume that all or any part of a measured or indicated mineral resource will ever be upgraded into mineral reserves.

Readers should be aware that the Company’s financial statements (and information derived therefrom) have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board and are subject to Canadian auditing and auditor independence standards. IFRS differs in some respects from United States generally accepted accounting principles and thus the Company’s financial statements (and information derived therefrom) may not be comparable to those of United States companies.

Forward Looking Information
           
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" and "forward-looking information" (collectively, "forward-looking information") within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. All information contained in this news release, other than statements of current and historical fact, is forward-looking information. Often, but not always, forward-looking information can be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects", "budget", "guidance", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "strategy", "target", "intends", "objective", "goal", "understands", "anticipates" and "believes" (and variations of these or similar words) and statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "should", "might" "occur" or "be achieved" or "will be taken" (and variations of these or similar expressions). Forward-looking information is also identifiable in statements of currently occurring matters which may continue in the future, such as "providing the Company with", "is currently", "allows/allowing for", "will advance" or "continues to" or other statements that may be stated in the present tense with future implications. All of the forward-looking information in this news release is qualified by this cautionary note.

Forward-looking information in this news release includes, but is not limited to, statements regarding the consistency of processing recovery levels, improvements of grades in 2019, deployment of new mining equipment, increase in contained metal production, maintenance of production rates, increase of mill feed grades, reduction of costs, monthly shipments of concentrate, the ability to fully fund planned development, the ability to successfully close its financing initiatives, exploration and capital expenditures at El Mochito and Lagoa Salgada,  robust adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow generation and the undertaking of various long-term optimization programs including but not limited to the expansion program at El Mochito. Forward-looking information is not, and cannot be, a guarantee of future results or events. Forward-looking information is based on, among other things, opinions, assumptions, estimates and analyses that, while considered reasonable by Ascendant at the date the forward-looking information is provided, inherently are subject to significant risks, uncertainties, contingencies and other factors that may cause actual results and events to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking information. The material factors or assumptions that Ascendant identified and were applied by Ascendant in drawing conclusions or making forecasts or projections set out in the forward-looking information include, but are not limited to, the ability of the Company to maintain the consistency of processing recovery levels, to improve grades in 2019, to deploy new mining equipment, increase contained metal production, maintain production rates, increase mill feed grades, reduce costs, make monthly shipments of concentrate, fully fund planned development, successfully closing on its financing initiatives, exploration and capital expenditures, maintain robust adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow and undertake various long-term optimization programs including but not limited to the expansion program at El Mochito and other events that may affect Ascendant's ability to develop its project; and no significant and continuing adverse changes in general economic conditions or conditions in the financial markets.

The risks, uncertainties, contingencies and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking information may include, but are not limited to, risks generally associated with the mining industry, such as economic factors (including future commodity prices, currency fluctuations, energy prices and general cost escalation), uncertainties related to the development and operation of Ascendant's projects, dependence on key personnel and employee and union relations, risks related to political or social unrest or change, rights and title claims, operational risks and hazards, including unanticipated environmental, industrial and geological events and developments and the inability to insure against all risks, failure of plant, equipment, processes, transportation and other infrastructure to operate as anticipated, compliance with government and environmental regulations, including permitting requirements and anti-bribery legislation, volatile financial markets that may affect Ascendant's ability to obtain financing on acceptable terms, the failure to obtain required approvals or clearances from government authorities on a timely basis, uncertainties related to the geology, continuity, grade and estimates of mineral reserves and resources, and the potential for variations in grade and recovery rates, uncertain costs of reclamation activities, tax refunds, hedging transactions, as well as the risks discussed in Ascendant's most recent Annual Information Form on file with the Canadian provincial securities regulatory authorities and available at www.sedar.com.

Should one or more risk, uncertainty, contingency, or other factor materialize, or should any factor or assumption prove incorrect, actual results could vary materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking information. Accordingly, the reader should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. Ascendant does not assume any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information after the date of this news release or to explain any material difference between subsequent actual events and any forward-looking information, except as required by applicable law.

NON-IFRS PERFORMANCE MEASURES

The non-IFRS performance measures presented do not have any standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS and are therefore unlikely to be directly comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers.

Non-IFRS reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA

EBITDA is a non-IFRS measure that represents an indication of the Company’s continuing capacity to generate earnings from operations before taking into account management’s financing decisions and costs of consuming capital assets, and management’s estimate of their useful life. EBITDA comprises revenue less operating expenses before interest expense (income), property, plant and equipment amortization and depletion, and income taxes. Adjusted EBITDA has been included in this document. Under IFRS, entities must reflect in compensation expense the cost of share-based payments. In the Company’s circumstances, share-based payments involve a significant accrual of amounts that will not be settled in cash but are settled by the issuance of shares in exchange for cash. EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA do not have any standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures of performance prepared in accordance with IFRS. EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA exclude the impact of cash costs of financing activities and taxes, and the effects of changes in operating working capital balances, and therefore are not necessarily indicative of operating profit or cash flow from operations as determined under IFRS. Other companies may calculate EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA differently. As such, the Company has made an entity specific adjustment to EBITDA for these expenses. The Company has also made an entity-specific adjustment to the foreign currency exchange (gain)/loss.

The following table provides a reconciliation of net income (loss) to Adjusted EBITDA:

                 
        Three Months Ended Year Ended  
Adjusted EBITDA     December 31, December 31,  
          2018     2017     2018     2017    
                 
Net income (loss)   $000's     (3,020 )     (1,429 )     3,005       (12,057 )  
                 
Adjusted for:              
  Advances to joint venture   $000's     2,248       -        2,248       -     
  Gain on remeasurement of environmental obligation   $000's     (2,788 )     -        (2,788 )     -     
  Depletion and depreciation   $000's     1,454       1,298       4,724       3,345    
  Interest income/expense   $000's     249       53       1,022       273    
  Accretion expense on rehabilitation liabilities   $000's     (333 )     (250 )     310       482    
  Charge on termination obligations   $000's     1,089       803       2,335       1,472    
  Share-based payments   $000's     152       368       1,022       1,787    
  Foreign currency exchange gain/loss   $000's     (113 )     279       (49 )     1,044    
  Income taxes   $000's     947       1,158       1,663       1,158    
Adjusted EBITDA   $000's     (115 )     2,280       13,492       (2,496 )  
                 

Direct operating cost per tonne milled

The Company uses the non-IFRS measure of direct operating cost per tonne milled to manage and evaluate operating performance. The Company believes that, in addition to conventional measures prepared in accordance with IFRS, certain investors use this information to evaluate the Company’s performance and ability to generate cash flows. Accordingly, it is intended to provide additional information and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures of performance prepared in accordance with IFRS. The Company considers cost of sales per tonne milled to be the most comparable IFRS measure to direct operating cost per tonne milled and has included calculations of this metric in the reconciliations within the applicable tables to follow.

Direct operating cost per tonne milled includes mine direct operating production costs such as mining, processing, administration, indirect charges as surface maintenance and camp expenses, and inventory sales adjustments but does not include, smelting, refining and freight costs, royalties, depreciation, depletion, amortization, reclamation, and capital costs.

The following table provides a reconciliation of direct operating costs to cost of sales, as reported in the Company’s consolidated statement of income (loss) for the year ended December 31, 2017:

                 
        Three Months Ended Year Ended  
Direct operating cost per tonne milled     December 31, December 31,  
          2018     2017     2018     2017    
  Production expenses (from consolidated income statement)   $000's     22,009       20,336       74,162       59,248    
  Add: Termination Liability Payments   $000's   257       14       933       285    
  Add (deduct): Supplies Inventory Obsolescence Adjustment   $000's     (266 )     -        (266 )     -     
  Add (deduct): Supplies Inventory Adjustment   $000's     (1,391 )     -        (1,391 )     -     
  Deduct (Add): Variation in Finished Inventory   $000's     (2,129 )     (2,158 )     (4,641 )     4,471    
  Deduct: Depreciation in production   $000's     (1,452 )     (1,290 )     (4,712 )     (3,319 )  
Total cash costs (including royalties)   $000's     17,028       16,902       64,085       60,685    
  Deduct: Government taxes and royalties   $000's     (1,240 )     (1,009 )     (4,375 )     (2,788 )  
Direct operating costs   $000's     15,788       15,893       59,710       57,897    
  Tonnes Milled   tonnes     184,913       198,354       756,034       656,291    
Direct operating cost per tonne milled   $/tonne $ 85.38   $ 80.13   $ 78.98   $ 88.22    
                 
        Three Months Ended Year Ended  
AISC per ZnEq payable pound sold     December 31, December 31,  
          2018     2017     2018     2017    
                 
ZnEq payable pounds sold   000's lbs     21,511       17,599       81,871       50,725    
                 
Cash Operating Costs Reconciliation              
  Direct operating costs   $000's     15,788       15,893       59,710       57,897    
  Add (deduct): Variation in Finished Inventory   $000's     2,129       2,158       4,641       (4,471 )  
Cash operating costs   $000's     17,917       18,051       64,351       53,426    
Cash operating cost per ZnEq payable pound sold   $/ZnEq lb $ 0.83   $ 1.03   $ 0.79   $ 1.05    
                 
All-in Sustaining Costs (AISC) Reconciliation              
  Total cash operating costs   $000's     17,917       18,051       64,351       53,426    
  Add: Government taxes and royalties   $000's     1,240       1,009       4,375       2,788    
  Add: TC & RCs   $000's     3,996       3,629       14,474       10,565    
  Add: G&A, excluding depreciation and amortization   $000's     1,328       2,727       5,974       7,402    
  Add: Accretion expense on rehabilitation liabilities   $000's     (333 )     (250 )     310       482    
  Add: Sustaining capital expenditure   $000's     3,437       1,994       17,555       7,507    
Total All-in sustaining costs   $000's     27,585       27,160       107,039       82,170    
AISC per ZnEq payable pound sold   $/ZnEq lb $ 1.28   $ 1.54   $ 1.31   $ 1.62    
 

Additional non-IFRS measures

The Company uses other financial measures, the presentation of which is not meant to be a substitute for other subtotals or totals presented in accordance with IFRS, but rather should be evaluated in conjunction with such IFRS measures. The following other financial measures are used:

  • Operating cash flows before movements in working capital - excludes the movement from period-to-period in working capital items including trade and other receivables, prepaid expenses, deposits, inventories, trade and other payables and the effects of foreign exchange rates on these items.

The terms described above do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS, and therefore the Company’s definitions are unlikely to be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. The Company’s management believes that their presentation provides useful information to investors because cash flows generated from operations before changes in working capital excludes the movement in working capital items. This, in management’s view, provides useful information of the Company’s cash flows from operations and are considered to be meaningful in evaluating the Company’s past financial performance or its future prospects. The most comparable IFRS measure is cash flows from operating activities.

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1 ZnEq lbs and grades in ZnEq % represents zinc metal considered together with the lead and silver expressed in zinc equivalent terms of zinc using spot metal prices and production during the period.