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Amerigo Reports 2023 Production Results & Provides Increased 2024 Guidance

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Amerigo Reports 2023 Production Results & Provides Increased 2024 Guidance

 

 

 

 

 

2023 copper production of 57.6 M pounds

2023 cash cost1 $2.17 /lb

2024 increased copper production guidance of 62.4 M pounds

2024 cash cost1 guidance of $2.08 /lb

 

Amerigo Resources Ltd. (TSX: ARG) (OTCQX: ARREF) announced today 2023 production results from Minera Valle Central, the Company’s 100% owned operation located near Rancagua, Chile. Dollar amounts in this news release are in U.S. dollars unless indicated otherwise.

 

“MVC’s copper production in Q4-2023 was 16.4 million pounds, returning to normal levels following last year’s severe weather events at MVC,” said Aurora Davidson, Amerigo’s President and CEO. “We closed the year with a strong quarter, which resulted in annual copper production of 57.6 million pounds. In 2024, we expect to produce 62.4 million pounds of copper – our fourth year of increased guidance. Against higher copper prices, this production level should generate a robust financial performance.”

 

In 2023, MVC produced 57.6 million pounds of copper, in line with the revised annual guidance of 57.8 M lbs announced last September. The revised yearly guidance incorporated the impact of severe rains on MVC’s Q2-2023 and Q3-2023 copper production.

 

In Q4-2023, MVC produced 16.4 M lbs of copper; 47% of copper production came from historic tailings (“Cauquenes tailings”), proving MVC’s operational flexibility and ability to increase processing from Cauquenes if and when needed.

 

Amerigo produced 1.2 M lbs of molybdenum in 2023, compared to the Company’s increased guidance of 1.1 M lbs.

 

The Company’s 2023 cash cost1 was $2.17 per pound (“/lb”), compared to our latest guidance of $2.20/lb.

 

In 2023, the Company incurred $14.3 million in capital expenditures on projects (“Capex”), up $1.0 million from our original guidance of $13.3 million. Capitalizable maintenance and strategic spares were $3.7 million.

 

Amerigo’s quarterly copper price in Q4-2023 was $3.82/lb, compared to $3.76/lb in Q3-2023. In Q4-2023, $3.6 million was returned to shareholders through Amerigo’s quarterly dividend of Cdn$0.03 per share.

 

On December 31, 2023, Amerigo’s cash position was $16.2 million ($3.1 million higher than on September 30, 2023), and restricted cash was $6.3 million (unchanged from September 30, 2023). The lost opportunity (decreased EBITDA1 of $10.6 million and increased Capex of $1 million) from the 2023 weather events resulted in a decrease in year-end cash balances of approximately $11.6 million.

 

Outstanding bank debt was $21.3 million (an increase of $0.25 million from September 30, 2023, as $2.0 million was drawn from MVC’s line of credit in October 2023, and only $1.75 million, or half of MVC’s $3.5 million debt repayment due on December 31, 2023 was processed). Year-end restricted cash and debt balances include $1.75 million plus interest semi-annual debt payment due on December 31, 2023, as one of the two lenders processed it on January 2, 2024.

 

On December 31, 2023, MVC’s water reserves were over 10.0 million cubic meters, sufficient to maintain projected Cauquenes tailings processing rates for at least eighteen months, our maximum forecast horizon.

 

           
  2023 Q4-2023 Q3-2023 Q2-2023 Q1-2023
Fresh tailings          
Tonnes per day 125,034 117,331 109,276 138,261 136,972
Operating days 344 92 86 76 90
Tonnes processed 42,993,193 10,789,129 9,397,541 10,535,165 12,271,358
Copper grade 0.172% 0.174% 0.175% 0.169% 0.170%
Copper recovery 22.0% 21.0% 22.6% 22.3% 22.1%
Copper produced (M lbs) 35.83 8.69 8.21 8.79 10.14
Cauquenes tailings          
Tonnes per day 42,747 50,578 45,588 36,487 38,284
Operating days 289 91 38 72 89
Tonnes processed 12,341,596 4,584,009 1,733,896 2,624,532 3,399,159
Copper grade 0.248% 0.243% 0.239% 0.254% 0.255%
Copper recovery 32.3% 31.3% 32.0% 32.8% 33.3%
Copper produced (M lbs) 21.81 7.68 2.91 4.84 6.38
Copper produced (M lbs) 57.64 16.37 11.12 13.63 16.52
Copper delivered (M lbs) 57.22 16.08 10.98 13.67 16.49
Cash cost1 ($/lb) 2.17 2.06 2.44 2.37 1.91
Molybdenum produced (M lbs) 1.15 0.33 0.22 0.30 0.30
Molybdenum sold (M lbs) 1.15 0.33 0.22 0.30 0.30
 

2024 Guidance

 

In 2024, Amerigo expects to produce 62.4M lbs of copper and 1.2 M lbs of molybdenum, with 61% of copper production coming from fresh tailings. 2024 is our 4th consecutive year of increased production guidance and is 8%, or 4.8M lbs, higher than 2023 copper production.

 

The annual plant maintenance shutdown at MVC and El Teniente is expected to last eight days and occur in Q2-2024. Our guidance factors in lower production from the maintenance shutdown.

 

In 2023, the London Metal Exchange average copper price was $3.85/lb despite strong macroeconomic headwinds. We are optimistic that in 2024, a combination of economic and political factors will contribute to higher copper prices. These factors include an accommodative interest rate environment during an election year in the United States and the interplay of copper supply and demand fundamentals. However, Amerigo employs a conservative approach in its annual budget preparation, and for 2024 guidance, has used average market prices of $3.60/lb for copper, $21/lb for molybdenum, and an exchange rate of 935 Chilean pesos (“CLP”) to USD 1.

 

Under these conditions, Amerigo’s 2024 normalized cash cost1 is expected to be $2.08/lb, excluding $0.02/lb paid to MVC’s supervisors in January 2024 as the signing bonus of a 3-year collective labour agreement. This projected normalized cash cost1 compares favorably to our 2023 cash cost of $2.17/lb due to our guided higher production, lower benchmark treatment and refinery charges and cost reductions implemented at MVC.

 

A $2/lb change in molybdenum price would have a $0.03/lb impact on cash cost1, and a 10% change in the CLP to USD foreign exchange rate would impact $0.10/lb on cash cost1.

 

Using a $3.60/lb copper price, the royalty to Codelco’s El Teniente Division (“DET”) in 2024 would be $0.98/lb. The DET royalty is calculated on a sliding scale based on copper prices. A $0.20/lb increase in copper price would have a $0.10/lb impact on the DET royalty.

 

Projected 2024 EBITDA1 using these assumptions is expected to be $34.6 million (excluding the effect of 2023 settlement adjustments). Each $0.10/lb increase in copper price up to $4/lb would increase EBITDA1 by $3.1 million. Each $0.10/lb increase in copper price over $4/lb and up to $4.80/lb would have an increase in EBITDA1 of approximately $2.8 million.

 

In 2024, MVC is expected to incur $5.7 million in capital expenditures on projects (“Capex”) and $3.7 million on capitalizable maintenance and strategic spares. We are also evaluating two Capex projects that could further contribute to increasing production at MVC. These projects could be initiated in 2024, subject to the technical conclusions reached and higher copper prices.

 

Concerning financial obligations, as stated earlier in this release, $1.75 million of MVC’s December 31, 2023 debt repayment was processed on January 2, 2024, and MVC will make two scheduled semi-annual bank debt repayments of $3.5 million plus interest in June and December 2024. MVC will also repay $1.0 million of the $2.0 million drawn from its working capital line of credit in 2023. No further draws from the line of credit are projected to occur in 2024, and bank debt at year-end 2024 is expected to be $11.5 million, a decrease of $9.75 million.

 

Capital Return Strategy

 

Since the implementation of Amerigo’s Capital Return Strategy in September 2021, the Company has paid cumulative quarterly dividends of Cdn$0.26 per share ($33.2 million) and used $23.7 million to purchase and cancel 20.1 million of its common shares, an 11.1% reduction in the number of common shares outstanding at the inception of the Strategy.

 

Our quarterly dividend is the cornerstone of the Strategy and a key corporate objective. This dividend was maintained by Amerigo in 2023 despite the unexpected $11.6 million negative impact on cash from the weather events. We are confident that at the current copper prices of $3.80/lb, the quarterly dividend of Cdn$0.03 per share remains secure, subject to Amerigo attaining its 2024 production guidance herein released.

 

Release of 2023 financial results on February 21, 2024

 

Amerigo will release 2023 financial results at the market open on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.

 

About Amerigo and MVC

 

Amerigo is an innovative copper producer with a long-term relationship with Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (“Codelco”), the world’s largest copper producer.

 

Amerigo produces copper concentrate and molybdenum concentrate as a by-product at the MVC operation in Chile by processing fresh and historic tailings from Codelco’s El Teniente mine, the world’s largest underground copper mine.

 

Posted January 16, 2024

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