VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 13, 2013) - Elgin Mining Inc. ("Elgin Mining" or the "Company") (ELG.TO)(TSX:ELG.WT) is pleased to announce strong production of 11,401 gold ounces for Q4-2012 and 46,808 gold ounces for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012(1), respectively. Production surpassed the Company's stated 2012 guidance of 44,000 to 46,000 gold ounces. The Company is also providing guidance on its gold production, and outlook for its operating, development and exploration budgets for 2013. All figures are in United States dollars ("$") unless otherwise stated.
Patrick Downey, President and CEO of Elgin Mining, commented, "I want to congratulate our operating team at the Björkdal gold mine for an impressive production quarter and for surpassing guidance for the year. We believe the operational improvements, which focused on the mine's underground and open pit mining operations in the latter half of 2012, are starting to take hold and will continue to be reflected in the 2013 production profile. Also, with these continued improvements and our focused exploration program, the Björkdal mine has the potential to be a much larger and more profitable operation which will continue to be our key focus in 2013. Should operational improvements and exploration indicate that the Björkdal operation could be expanded, we plan to commence a detailed study of this opportunity later in 2013. We also continue to execute a disciplined de-risking effort at our advanced Lupin gold mine in Northern Canada. The work this year will focus on opening up the underground access and assessing all aspects of the underground access required for future start-up of operations planned for 2015. This staged de-risking is to ensure we have a robust operation prior to making the decision to recommence production at Lupin."
|2012 Gold Production Data |
|Björkdal gold mine||FY 2012||Q4-2012||Q3-2012||4-months |
|Open Pit (tonnes)||617,059||128,965||139,128||193,238||155,728|
|Open Pit (grams per tonne)||0.98||1.12||1.15||0.87||0.86|
|Underground (grams per tonne)||1.51||1.65||1.37||1.45||1.59|
|Stockpile (grams per tonne)||0.74||0.77||0.55||0.86||1.08|
|Plant throughput (tonnes per day)||3,489||3,335||3,569||3,545||3,489|
|Average plant head grade (g/t)||1.20||1.32||1.13||1.16||1.20|
|Average plant recovery rate (%)||87.8%||87.8%||87.6%||87.6%||88.5%|
|Gold production (ounces)||46,808||11,401||10,460||14,121||10,826|
(1) The 2012 fiscal year is for the 13-month period ended December 31, 2012 due to the Company's change in year-end from November 30 to December 31 in 2012.
Cash cost for Q4-2012 was negatively impacted by heavier-than-normal rainfall in October causing flooding in the underground mine, which led to lost production days and contractor standby charges. In the open pit, a higher waste-to-ore ratio led to lower ore tonnes mined in the quarter compared to earlier quarters in the year. As a result, the mine processed a higher-than-planned tonnage of lower-grade stockpile ore to maintain full feed to the plant. Open pit operations were also somewhat negatively affected by the changeover to a new open pit contractor at the end of the year and the demobilization of the previous contractor. The cost of these negative events was offset by a higher plant head grade and by tolling revenue credited against processing cash cost in the quarter. With respect to this tolling revenue in Q4-2012, the Company processed third-party ore through its plant on a tolling basis for approximately three days which negatively affected the gold production and plant throughput reported for the Company's own account. However, the tolling revenue generated significant operating margin.
The Company will provide a more detailed analysis including costs in its Management's Discussion and Analysis and audited financial statements for 2012, which are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, March 26, 2013, after market close.
2013 Production Guidance
The Company is forecasting 2013 gold production and unit cash cost as follows:
|2013 production guidance (gold ounces)||45,000 to 49,000|
|On-site cash cost per ounce produced (Note 1)||$990 to $1,090|
|Off-site treatment and refining charges ("TC/RC's") per ounce||$50 - $55|
|Cash cost per ounce produced (Note 2)||$1,040 to $1,145|
|SEK per USD currency exchange rate assumption||6.50|
|Note 1: On-site cash cost per ounce produced is a non-IFRS measure and includes all production cash costs except for off-site TC/RC's, exploration expenses and income taxes.|
|Note 2: Cash cost per ounce produced is a non-IFRS measure and includes on-site cash costs plus off-site TC/RC's but excludes exploration expenses and income taxes.|
The Björkdal gold mine is targeting 2013 gold production in the range of 45,000 to 49,000 gold ounces which management expects to achieve through a combination of higher open pit and underground ore grades, and a reduction of stockpile tonnes processed.
The 2013 year is expected to be a major transition year for the Björkdal mine as the Company will bring all underground production operations in-house upon the expiration of the existing contract with the mining contractor at the end of August 2013; however, a mining contractor will continue to be employed to perform underground capital development. This changeover will necessitate the purchase of new underground mining equipment to replace the contractor's equipment and will see a ramp-up of development ore tonnes through to the end of the year as newly-hired underground miners become better trained and more productive.
A new experienced open pit mining contractor commenced contract load/haul operations in January 2013 under a four-year contract employing more efficient equipment with on-board GPS systems. Average open pit grades are expected to improve in comparison to 2012 as a result of better open pit grade control procedures for the entire 2013 year through improved pit supervision, dig and blasting patterns, and from the mining of higher grade blocks in the second half of 2013.
The planned switch from contractor to owner-operated for on-vein drifting starting in September 2013 will have a short-term negative impact on the mining rates for development ore in the last few months of 2013 but stope ore tonnes are expected to increase due to the full complement of teams of long-hole miners for the entire 2013 year.
Average underground ore grades are forecasted to improve as a result of reduced ore dilution through:
- cable-bolting of all stopes prior to mining;
- use of narrower drift headings (to 3.5 metres) upon the transition to owner-operated ore mining in September 2013; and
- improvements to stope planning, mine sequencing and better coordination between geology and mine operations.
Underground mining costs per ore tonne are expected to remain elevated in the first three quarters of 2013 due to the utilization of the underground mining contractor during the transition to owner operated mining and the mining of higher-cost contractor cable-bolted stopes. The Company has ordered a dedicated cable-bolting machine with delivery expected in the third quarter of 2013.
Capital expenditures for the Björkdal mine for 2013 are estimated to be $21.1 million consisting of:
- underground mining equipment of $6.2 million for the changeover to self-mining of all underground ore in 2013 (this equipment will be mostly financed by a competitive Swedish bank loan as detailed below);
- capitalized underground development costs of $6.0 million for 1,496 planned metres of underground tunnels;
- capitalized open pit stripping costs of $2.1 million;
- building upgrades and extensions of $0.6 million to accommodate the new miners and to store additional equipment parts and spares;
- plant improvements of $1.9 million including the purchase of a new primary crusher. The plant is currently pilot testing a new Sandvik crusher model on loan from the manufacturer;
- tailings system improvements and capacity expansion of $1.1 million;
- capitalized underground exploration costs of $1.9 million (see "Exploration" section below), including the purchase of an underground core drill unit;
- capitalized open pit exploration costs of $0.5 million (see "Exploration" section below); and
- other capital expenditures of $0.8 million for the underground mine.
The Company expects to continue with its on-going underground drill program by conducting 11,000 metres of diamond drilling targeting high grade areas including down plunge and along strike extensions of new veins identified from the Company's 2012 drill program.
In the open pit, the Company plans to perform 3,000 metres of diamond drilling primarily to upgrade resource categories and to assist with future mine planning.
For regional exploration of nearby targets, the Company intends to conduct a modest work program in 2013 in order to test some very prospective targets on its concession.
2013 Cash Cost
As a result of the changes being implemented under the Company's transition plan for Björkdal, cash cost per gold ounce produced for 2013 are anticipated to be much higher than the mine's long-term per ounce cash cost on an inflation adjusted basis. However, management expects that per ounce costs will trend lower in the latter part of 2013 and into 2014 when the full benefits of the mine's various operational improvements are realized including improved grade control practices, greater mining underground by the Company's own operating personnel and equipment, having the dedicated use of the Company's own cable bolter, better control of underground dilution through narrower mining of cable-bolted stopes and on-vein development headings, and the processing of a greater mix of lower cost stope tonnes in comparison to development tonnes in the underground mining unit.
In 2013, quarterly cash cost per ounce is expected to be higher in the first half of the year for reasons noted in the previous paragraph in addition to the normal inefficiencies encountered upon the changeover of the open pit contractor in early January 2013, which led to the processing of more stockpile tonnes than planned.
Although not directly affecting the calculation of cash cost, Sweden has reduced its corporate income tax rate from 26.3% to 22.0% effective starting in 2013. As the Björkdal mine is a taxable operation, the Company will benefit from reduced cash taxes as a result of this tax rate change.
Mine Expansion Potential
Should the Company's 2013 exploration programs in the underground and open pits return encouraging drill results similar to those in 2012 which would prove up and add to the resource base of the Björkdal deposit, management expects to initiate a mine and mill expansion study by the end of the 2013 year with the goal of expanding the operation to approximately 5,000 ore tonnes per day ("tpd") (1.8 million tonnes annually) to further increase the mine's annual gold output and lower per ounce cash costs.
The expansion will likely be phased in over two stages with the first stage having Björkdal continue to operate as both an underground and open pit operation but with a ramp-up in the daily mining rate for underground ore tonnes. In the final stage, all ore feed would be mined from underground with gold production potentially approaching (and perhaps exceeding) 100,000 ounces annually.
Lupin Gold Mine - Nunavut, Canada
In 2013, the Company will be conducting a work program mainly focused on confirming the condition of the underground access and mine services at the Lupin gold mine, which is currently in care and maintenance. This program will involve the purchase and mobilization of equipment to site to re-open the underground portal currently blocked by ice. Once access is secured, Lupin personnel will assess underground workings in preparation for a 2014 underground drill program and to gather pertinent information for a preliminary economic assessment on a Lupin restart. The 2013 program will build-on the 2012 activities made which involved the evaluation, testing and minor repairs of the mill building and equipment. The positive results from the 2012 activities on Lupin's key surface infrastructure further confirms that the Lupin mine was properly placed into care and maintenance when the mine last operated in 2005, and management expects that the planned 2013 activities will further de-risk the project upon a future restart of operations.
Management expects to have the Lupin camp open for the entire year to allow for the above underground work; for minor mill and powerhouse repairs by contractors to facilitate a quicker restart of operations; and for certain health, safety and environmental activities to ensure on-going compliance with key permits.
Management is budgeting approximately $9.5 million in cash expenditures to carry out the above stated 2013 Lupin activities, including capital expenditures.
The Company's year-end cash balance was approximately $15.9 million as of December 31, 2012. In addition to this year-end cash balance, management has secured an equipment loan facility with a Swedish bank to fund approximately $6.1 million of the new underground mining equipment budgeted for at the Björkdal mine. Individual equipment loans under this facility will be amortized evenly over 60 months, bear variable interest at 3-month STIBOR (Stockholm Interbank Offered Rate) plus 2.16% per annum (which would equate to a current rate of under 3.5% per annum), and will be secured by the underlying equipment and by a parent company guarantee provided by Elgin Mining.
The Company believes that it has sufficient cash resources to carrying out its budgeted plans for 2013. However, to improve the Company's liquidity against unforeseen events and from budget variations or shortfalls at its Björkdal mine, management is currently in discussion with numerous external debt and equity providers for additional financing. Depending on market conditions, management may pursue the available financing options that provide the most attractive terms within the Company's risk tolerance.
Elgin Mining Inc.
Elgin Mining is a Canadian based company focused on production at the Björkdal Gold Mine in Sweden, which surpassed its first millionth ounce of gold production in 2010, and on the exploration and development of the Lupin gold mine and Ulu gold project, both located in Nunavut, Canada. In addition, Elgin Mining's portfolio includes a 29.5% interest in Auracle Resources Ltd., which is exploring the Mexican Hat property in Arizona, an exclusive right and option to earn a 60% interest in Lincoln Mining Corporation's Oro Cruz (California) and La Bufa (Mexico) gold projects and an option to earn a 60% interest in North Arrow Minerals Inc.'s Contwoyto gold project located adjacent to the Lupin gold mine in Nunavut, Canada. Elgin Mining also selectively reviews opportunities to add advanced stage development projects to its portfolio. The Company has a strong balance sheet, generates cash flow from gold sales, and remains un-hedged.
For further information, please visit the Company's web site at www.elginmining.com.
This document contains "forward-looking information" within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation and "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. This information and these statements, referred to herein as "forward-looking statements" are made as of the date of this report or as of the effective date of information described in this report, as applicable. Forward-looking statements relate to future events or future performance and reflect current estimates, predictions, expectations or beliefs regarding future events and include, without limitation, statements with respect to: (i) the amount of mineral reserves and mineral resources; (ii) the amount of future production over any period; (iii) the amount of waste tonnes mined; (iv) the amount of mining and haulage costs; (v) cash costs; (vi) operating costs; (vii) strip ratios and mining rates; (viii) expected grades and ounces of metals and minerals; (ix) expected processing recoveries; (x) expected time frames; (xi) prices of metals and minerals; (xii) mine life and mine plans; (xiii) capital expenditures; and (xiv) success of exploration activities. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions of future events or performance (often, but not always, using words or phrases such as "expects", "anticipates", "plans", "projects", "estimates", "envisages", "assumes", "intends", "strategy", "goals", "objectives" or variations thereof or stating that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved, or the negative of any of these terms and similar expressions) are not statements of historical fact and may be forward-looking statements.
All forward-looking statements are based on the Company's or its consultants' current beliefs as well as various assumptions made by and information currently available to them. These assumptions include, without limitation: (i) the presence of and continuity of metals of the Company's mines and mineral properties at modeled grades; (ii) the capacities of various machinery and equipment; (iii) the availability of personnel, machinery and equipment at estimated prices; (iv) exchange rates; (v) metals and minerals sales prices; (vi) appropriate discount rates; (vii) tax rates applicable to the mining operations; (viii) cash costs; (ix) anticipated mining profits; (x) metals recovery rates, (xi) reasonable contingency requirements; and (xiii) receipt of regulatory approvals on acceptable terms. Although management considers these assumptions to be reasonable based on information currently available to it, they may prove to be incorrect. Many forward-looking statements are made assuming the correctness of other forward looking statements, such as statements of net present value and internal rate of return, which are based on most of the other forward-looking statements and assumptions herein. The cost information is also prepared using current values, but the time for incurring the costs will be in the future and it is assumed costs will remain stable over the relevant period.
By their very nature, forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, and risks exist that estimates, forecasts, projections and other forward-looking statements will not be achieved or that assumptions do not reflect future experience. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements as a number of important factors could cause the actual outcomes to differ materially from the beliefs, plans, objectives, expectations, anticipations, estimates assumptions and intentions expressed in such forward-looking statements. These risk factors may be generally stated as the risk that the assumptions and estimates expressed above do not occur, but specifically include, without limitation, risks relating to variations in the mineral content within the material identified as mineral reserves and mineral resources from that predicted, changes in development or mining plans due to changes in logistical, technical or other factors, the impact of general business and economic conditions, global liquidity and credit availability on the timing of cash flows and the values of assets and liabilities based on projected future conditions, fluctuating metal prices and currency exchange rates, possible variations in ore grade or recovery rates, changes in accounting policies, changes in the Company's corporate resources, changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined, changes in project development and production time frames, the possibility of project cost overruns or unanticipated costs and expenses, higher prices for fuel, steel, power, labour and other consumables contributing to higher costs and general risks of the mining industry, failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated, unexpected changes in mine life, unanticipated results of future studies, seasonality and unanticipated weather changes, costs and timing of the development of new deposits, success of exploration activities, successful completion of proposed acquisitions, permitting time lines, government regulation of mining operations, environmental risks, unanticipated reclamation expenses, title disputes or claims, limitations on insurance coverage and timing and possible outcome of pending litigation and labour disputes, as well as those risk factors discussed or referred to herein or in the Company's Management Information Circular dated April 3, 2012, a copy of which is filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com, under the heading "Risk Factors". The foregoing list of factors that may affect future results is not exhaustive.
When relying on our forward-looking statements, investors and others should carefully consider the foregoing factors and other uncertainties and potential events. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time by the Company or on behalf of the Company, except as required by law.
The forward-looking statements contained herein is presented for the purpose of assisting investors in understanding the Company's expected financial and operational performance and results as at and for the periods ended on the dates presented in the Company's plans and objectives and may not be appropriate for other purposes. The reader is also cautioned that mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.