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PTQ.T: Petaquilla announces significant updated resource estimate for Palmilla gold deposit

By Steven Ralston, CFA

Last week, Petaquilla Minerals (PTQ.TO) and (OTC BB:PTQMF) announced the completion of an updated NI 43-101 compliant technical report on its Palmilla gold project. The report expanded and upgraded the resources from an estimated inferred resource of 502,800 gold equivalent ounces (using a cutoff grade of 0.30 g/t Au Eq.) to an estimated measured & indicated resource of 841,000 gold equivalent ounces and an inferred resource of 269,000 gold equivalent ounces (using a cutoff grade of 0.35 g/t Au Eq.). The measured & indicated resource is composed of 509,000 ounces gold (27,020,000 tonnes grading 0.59 g/t Au), 755,800 ounces silver (27,020,000 tonnes grading at 0.87 g/t Ag) and 143,900,000 pounds of copper (27,020,000 tonnes grading 0.24% Cu). Without even considering the significant upgrade of the resource, it can be stated that the resource estimate increased 120%. The updated estimate added $39.3 million (or $0.15 per diluted share) to the NPV to our valuation model.

Also last week, Petaquilla Minerals reported fourth fiscal quarter and fiscal year results for the period ending June 30, 2013. For the fourth fiscal quarter, gold equivalent production declined 32.3% sequentially from 18,013 ounces to 12,191 ounces. Gold production declined due to the disruptions in mining operations from the reassignment of some mining and crushing equipment towards the effort to make timely deliveries of aggregate to the Cobre Panamá copper project. Additional equipment has been procured to alleviate the situation. With the company drawing upon inventoried bullion and selling a total of 14,196 gold equivalent ounces, along with $4.366 million in incremental revenues from aggregate sales, sequentially revenues increased 1.0%. The revenue from the aggregate business, along with silver sales, helped in the recovery of mining costs at the Molejón mine since the sales of silver and aggregates are considered to be by-products from the extraction of gold.

For the full fiscal year, gold equivalent production declined 0.5% from 69,503 ounces to 69,181 ounces while gross operating profit increased 3.0% to $35,992,420. During fiscal 2013, Petaquilla Minerals benefitted substantially through Inmet's waiver of 5% royalty on Molejón mine by $13,348,341, which was partially offset by a $9,815,975 loss on the classification of forward agreements as derivatives. For the fiscal year, the company reported a loss of $2,498,090 ($0.02 per diluted share).

During fiscal 2014, management expects Molejón’s cash costs to be reduced to the $550 to $600 range since supplying aggregate to the Cobre Panamá copper project should generate approximately $40 million in revenues. Management’s focus during fiscal 2014 lies in boosting gold production at Molejón gold project to approximately 100,000 ounces, advancing the Lomero-Poyatos concessions to production, continuing exploration at Brazo and Oro del Norte, and the continued exploration of Jales-Gralheira in Portugal, along with pursuing the termination of the gold and silver contracts with Deutsche Bank.

We reaffirm our Outperform rating and are raising the price target to reflect the expanded and upgraded resource estimate for Palmilla, along with the increase in gold and silver prices over the last few months. Our updated target for the stock of Petaquilla Minerals is $1.04.

A copy of the latest research report can be downloaded here >>  Petaquilla Minerals Report

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