McEwen Mining Inc. (NYSE: MUX) (TSX: MUX) reported its first quarter (Q1) results for the period ended March 31st, 2022.
Fox Complex, Canada (100% interest)
Fox produced 7,700 GEOs in Q1 at total cash costs and AISC of $1,193 and $1,729 per GEO sold, respectively. This compares to 5,200 GEOs at total cash costs and AISC of $1,262 and $1,560 per GEO sold, respectively, in Q1 2021.
The higher production level and lower cash costs quarter over quarter were primarily due to mining at the new Froome mine versus the Black Fox mine in Q1 2021. During Q1, the solid performance in the mine was offset by a labour shortage due to COVID-19, coupled with equipment failures at the Stock mill. Approximately 11,700 oz of gold was mined during the quarter from the Froome deposit, which would have resulted in production of 10,500 oz of gold if the mill had been able to process all the material as planned. Our team is in the process of implementing long-term solutions such as replacing aging equipment and de-bottlenecking to improve reliability going forward.
We announced the results of our Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Fox Complex. The PEA presents estimates for a positive business case for the Fox Complex expansion project, with potential average gold production of 80,800 gold ounces per year over nine (9) years, after the depletion of the current resources at Froome. The economic analysis estimates an after-tax IRR of 21% at a gold price of $1,650 per oz, and average cash costs and AISC per ounce of gold of $769 and $1,246, respectively. Additional exploration work on the Fox Complex properties will be conducted throughout 2022 to support the ongoing studies necessary to advance the expansion project.
In Q1, we incurred $1.7 million for exploration. Our exploration spend at Fox for 2022 & 2023 is forecasted to be $10.0 million and $15.0 million, respectively. During the remainder of 2022, exploration will focus on:
Gold Bar Mine, USA (100% interest)
Gold Bar produced 6,300 GEOs in Q1 at total cash costs and AISC of $2,284 and $2,633 per GEO sold, respectively. This compares to 7,400 GEOs at total cash costs and AISC of $1,865 and $1,934 per GEO sold, respectively, in Q1 2021.
Mining from the Pick open pit was 44% below target in Q1 due to mining contractor employee turnover, lower blasting productivity, and the segregation of potentially preg-robbing carbon in mineralized material which could not be heap leached; further metallurgical testing is underway. Heap leach and process plant operations partially offset the deficit of ore mined by achieving 13% higher gold recovery and 8% higher gold grade than the corresponding targets for the quarter. We are evaluating if carbon will remain an issue during the current and future phases of mining at Pick.
Near-mine exploration drilling is underway around the Pick pit with encouraging oxide drill results, including: 1.93 g/t gold over 38.6 m (126.5 ft) in hole GBSW002, and 0.93 g/t gold over 19.5 m (64 ft) in hole GBSW006. This mineralization remains open along a trend to the southwest (please see news release dated April 25th, 2022).
We received regulatory approval to amend the plan of operations to include the Gold Bar South (GBS) deposit on April 1st, 2022. We are planning to start construction of the access road and heap leach pad expansion to accommodate the expected gold production starting in Q4 2022.
In Q1, we spent $1.5 million on exploration activities. One drill rig is currently operating at targets designed to extend the Pick deposit. Drilling is also planned at the Atlas pit, where drilling in 2021 returned 3.10 g/t gold over 27.4 m (90 ft) (please see news release dated April 25th, 2022).
San José Mine, Argentina (49% interest)
San José attributable production for Q1 was 6,450 gold ounces and 335,500 silver ounces, for a total of 10,700 GEOs. Total cash costs(2) and all-in sustaining costs(2) for the quarter were $1,589 and $2,103 per GEO sold, respectively. This compares to 16,700 GEOs at total cash costs and AISC of $1,088 and $1,328 per GEO sold, respectively, in Q1 2021.
San José production was impacted by COVID-19-related employee absences, which resulted in fewer tonnes of ore processed during the quarter. Despite the slow start to the year, the San José mine is expected to meet production guidance of 69,500 to 77,500 GEOs (49%).
In Q1, 2,050 m (6,720 ft) of exploration drilling was completed around the mine area and the Saavedra vein. Drilling highlights include 6.0 g/t gold and 236 g/t silver over 1.5 m (hole SJD-2451) and 8.3 g/t gold and 561 g/t silver over 1.2 m (hole SJD-2453) in the Celina vein; and 2.8 g/t gold and 546 g/t silver over 1.1 m (also hole SJD-2453) in the Celina Piso vein. An additional 2,000 m of resource delineation drilling is planned in Q2.
McEwen Copper (81% interest)
The Los Azules project, located in San Juan, Argentina, is one of the world’s largest undeveloped open-pit copper porphyry deposits.
During Q1 2022, approximately 5,340 m (17,500 ft) of drilling was completed in ten holes, and by the 10th of May 2022 approximately 10,780 m (35,360 ft) had been drilled. Drilling rates were impacted by equipment availability, productivity and reliability of drills assigned to the project. Drill contractor mobilization of crews, equipment, and parts supply were adversely affected by COVID-19 and industry-wide shortages of labor. Steps to remedy these challenges are resulting in improved performance during April and May. Seven drills are currently active, and good turnaround time for results is currently being maintained by the assay lab. The drill program will continue in Q2, weather permitting, followed by a winter break during the months of June to August. Drilling is expected to re-start in October.
Additional drilling is confirming the mineralization size and grade compared to historic intercepts used to estimate the 2017 PEA mineral resource estimate. To date, the results from core logging and sample analysis are very encouraging. In many holes, drilling was allowed to continue beyond the planned length where visible copper mineralization was observed. Often, primary mineralization in the hole was still apparent when drilling was stopped. Hole AZ22142 intersected 419.1 m of 0.79% copper, including an interval comprising 104.0 m of 1.00% copper in the supergene enriched zone and 46 m of 1.59% copper in the hypogene copper zone. Importantly, our updated geological model will reflect the sub-vertical structures and rock types that are thought to be key features controlling the distribution of mineralization. This points directly to the potential for significant mineralization to be discovered with additional drilling to depth (please see news release dated May 4th, 2022).
The critical issue of road access to the site has been resolved. We have developed a second road at a lower altitude that will allow for year-round access to the site. Our access will be extended, making it safer, less expensive and faster to advance and complete our fieldwork.
Whittle Consulting’s Enterprise Optimization work, which will be outlined in our forthcoming updated PEA expected in Q1 2023. Their analysis has provided important focus and direction for the detailed work underway, including guidance for drilling programs, metallurgical test work and trade-off studies for mining, processing and infrastructure.
McEwen Copper spent $9.8 million in Q1 to advance the Los Azules project.
Dr. Merri Sanchez was appointed to the Board of Directors effective February 25, 2022. She is a Technical Fellow with The Aerospace Corporation where she provides technical and strategic advice on matters concerning civil, commercial, and government spaceflight programs. She has more than 40 years of spaceflight engineering and operations experience. She previously served as the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, as a senior executive for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and as Senior Director of a commercial space company. She received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University, a Master of Science in Physical Sciences (Planetary Geology) from the University of Houston — Clear Lake, a Master of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Houston, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Engineering (Human Factors) from the University of Houston. Our Board believes that Ms. Sanchez’s expertise in cutting edge science and technology as well as her experience in operations, engineering, safety, risk management and decision making for both human and robotic spaceflight makes her an asset to our Board.
On January 5th, the Company was notified by the NYSE that the average price of its common stock for the previous 30 trading days was below $1.00 per share. Under NYSE regulations we had six months to bring the share price and 30-day average closing share price back above $1.00. The Board of Directors have not approved a reverse share split and will therefore seek other means of remaining on the NYSE. Should the Company become delisted it will continue to trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (“TSX”). Additionally, the Company is exploring transitioning to an alternate exchange or quotation system in the United States.
Table 1 below provides production and cost results for Q1 2022 with comparative results for Q1 2021 and our guidance range for 2022.
|Q1||Full Year 2022
|Gold Bar Mine, Nevada|
|Cash Costs ($/GEO)(1)||2,284||1,865|
|Fox Complex, Canada|
|Cash Costs ($/GEO)(1)||1,193||1,262|
|San José Mine, Argentina (49%)|
|Gold production (oz)(3)||6,450||9,500||34,500-38,500|
|Silver production (oz)(3)||335,500||492,300||2,520,000-2,800,000|
|Cash Costs ($/GEO)(1)||1,589||1,088|
Our El Gallo project produced 470 GEOs during Q1 and 1,300 GEOs for Q1 2021. Residual heap leaching is expected to cease by the end of June 2022.
For the SEC Form 10-Q Financial Statements and MD&A refer to: http://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/browse-edgar?action=getcompany&CIK=0000314203
The technical content of this news release related to financial results, mining and development projects has been reviewed and approved by Peter Mah, P.Eng., COO of McEwen Mining and a Qualified Person as defined by SEC S-K 1300 and the Canadian Securities Administrators National Instrument 43-101 “Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.”
The technical content of this news release related to geology, exploration and drilling results has been reviewed and approved by Stephen McGibbon, P.Geo, SVP Exploration of McEwen Mining and a Qualified Person as defined by NI 43-101.
Reliability of Information Regarding San José
Minera Santa Cruz S.A., the owner of the San José Mine, is responsible for and has supplied to the Company all reported results from the San José Mine. McEwen Mining’s joint venture partner, a subsidiary of Hochschild Mining plc, and its affiliates other than MSC do not accept responsibility for the use of project data or the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING NON-GAAP MEASURES
In this release, we have provided information prepared or calculated according to United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“U.S. GAAP”), as well as provided some non-U.S. GAAP (“non-GAAP”) performance measures. Because the non-GAAP performance measures do not have any standardized meaning prescribed by U.S. GAAP, they may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies.
Cash Costs and All-in Sustaining Costs
Cash costs consist of mining, processing, on-site general and administrative costs, community and permitting costs related to current operations, royalty costs, refining and treatment charges (for both doré and concentrate products), sales costs, export taxes and operational stripping costs, and exclude depreciation and amortization. All-in sustaining costs consist of cash costs (as described above), plus accretion of retirement obligations and amortization of the asset retirement costs related to operating sites, sustaining exploration and development costs, sustaining capital expenditures, and sustaining lease payments. Both cash costs and all-in sustaining costs are divided by the gold equivalent ounces sold to determine cash costs and all-in sustaining costs on a per ounce basis. We use and report these measures to provide additional information regarding operational efficiencies on an individual mine basis, and believe that these measures provide investors and analysts with useful information about our underlying costs of operations. A reconciliation to production costs applicable to sales, the nearest U.S. GAAP measure is provided in McEwen Mining’s Form 10-Q for the period ended March 31st, 2022.
Cash Gross Profit (Loss)
Cash gross profit is a non-GAAP financial measure and does not have any standardized meaning. We use cash gross profit to evaluate our operating performance and ability to generate cash flow; we disclose cash gross profit as we believe this measure provides valuable assistance to investors and analysts in evaluating our ability to finance our ongoing business and capital activities. The most directly comparable measure prepared in accordance with GAAP is gross profit. Cash gross profit is calculated by adding depletion and depreciation to gross profit. A reconciliation to gross profit, the nearest U.S. GAAP measure is provided in McEwen Mining’s Form 10-Q for the period ended March 31st, 2022.
ABOUT MCEWEN MINING
McEwen Mining is a diversified gold and silver producer and explorer focused in the Americas with operating mines in Nevada, Canada, Mexico and Argentina. It also has a large exposure to copper through its subsidiary McEwen Copper, owner of the Los Azules copper deposit in Argentina.
Highlights Indicative term sheets received from eight European, A... READ MORE
Filo Mining Corp. (TSX: FIL) (Nasdaq First North Growth Market: ... READ MORE
Candente Copper Corp. (TSX:DNT) (BVL:DNT) is pleased to announce ... READ MORE
Oroco Resource Corp. (TSX-V: OCO, OTC: ORRCF) announces assay res... READ MORE
TinOne Resources Inc. (TSX-V: TORC) (OTCQB: TORCF) is pleased t... READ MORE
We acknowledge the [financial] support of the Government of Canada.