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Orla Mining Reports Fourth Quarter and Year End 2023 Results

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Orla Mining Reports Fourth Quarter and Year End 2023 Results

 

 

 

 

 

Record Annual Production Driving Continued Cash Flow Generation

 

Orla Mining Ltd. (TSX: OLA) (NYSE: ORLA) announces the results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2023.

 

(All amounts expressed in U.S. dollars unless otherwise stated)

 

Fourth Quarter 2023 Highlights

  • Fourth quarter gold production was a record 34,484 ounces and gold sold was 31,300 ounces (pre-released). Full year 2023 gold production was a record 121,877 ounces, exceeding the Company’s increased full year gold production guidance range of 110,000 to 120,000 ounces (initial production guidance range was 100,000 to 110,000 ounces).
  • All-in sustaining costs1 was $802 per ounce of gold sold during the fourth quarter 2023. Full year 2023 AISC was $736 per ounce of gold sold, within the Company’s revised full year 2023 AISC guidance of $700 to $800 per ounce of gold sold (initial AISC guidance range was $750 to $850 per ounce of gold sold).
  • Adjusted earnings1 for the fourth quarter were $15.7 million or $0.05 per share.
  • Net loss for the fourth quarter was $58.4 million or ($0.19) per share. This includes a non-cash impairment charge of $72.4 million on the Cerro Quema Project.
  • During the quarter, the Panamanian Ministry of Commerce and Industry (“MICI”) rejected the requests for extension for the three mining concessions comprising Cerro Quema and declared the concessions cancelled. This cancellation followed Panama’s passing of Executive Decree No. 23/2023 in October 2023 and Law 407 in November 2023. The Company is exploring all legal remedies available in response to these cancellations and intends to file a Notice of Intent to Arbitrate under the Panama-Canada Free Trade Agreement (the “FTA”).
  • Cash flow from operating activities before changes in non-cash working capital during the fourth quarter was $24.7 million.
  • Exploration and project expenditure was $12.6 million during the quarter, of which $3.3 million was capitalized and $9.3 million was expensed.
  • As at December 31, 2023, Orla’s cash balance was $96.6 million and net cash1 was $8.3 million. During the quarter, the Company repaid $25 million towards its revolving credit facility, reducing the balance outstanding under the facility to $88.4 million. The Company also paid the final installment of $22.8 million to Fresnillo plc as part of the layback agreement.

 

“The fourth quarter bookended a second consecutive year of operational outperformance at the Camino Rojo Oxide Mine. We are disappointed in the current investment climate in Panama, particularly as it relates to our Cerro Quema Project, but we remain steadfast in our overall near-term strategy; we started 2024 in a net cash position and we are continuing to invest in our growth opportunities in Nevada and Mexico.

 

– Jason Simpson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Orla

 

_______________________________________
1 AISC, adjusted earnings and net cash are non-GAAP measures. See the “Non-GAAP Measures” section of this news release for additional information.

 

Financial and Operations Update

 

Table 1: Financial and Operating Highlights Q4 2023 FY 2023
Operating
Gold Produced oz 34,484 121,877
Gold Sold oz 31,300 118,993
Average Realized Gold Price1 $/oz $1,974 $1,941
Cost of Sales – Operating Cost $M $16.4 $57.7
Cash Cost per Ounce1 $/oz $536 $506
All-in Sustaining Cost per Ounce1 $/oz $802 $736
Financial
Revenue $M $62.9 $233.6
Net Income (Loss) $M $(58.4) $(27.0)
Adjusted Earnings1 $M $15.7 $47.8
Earnings (loss) per Share – basic $/sh $(0.19) $(0.09)
Adjusted Earnings per Share – basic1 $/sh $0.05 $0.15
Cash Flow from Operating Activities
before Changes in Non-Cash Working Capital
$M $24.7 $68.9
Free Cash Flow1 $M $(8.2) $23.6
Financial Position Dec 31, 2023 Dec 31, 2022
Cash and cash equivalents $M $96.6 $96.3
Net cash (debt)1 $M $8.3 $(49.5)
1 Non-GAAP measure. Please see the “Non-GAAP Measures” section of this news release for additional information. Free cash flow in Q4 includes final payment of $22.8m to Fresnillo with regard to the Layback Agreement).

 

 

Fourth Quarter 2023 Financial and Operations Summary

 

The Camino Rojo Oxide Gold Mine achieved a record quarterly gold production of 34,484 ounces of gold in the fourth quarter of 2023 at an average ore stacking rate of 18,998 tonnes per day. The average mining rate during the fourth quarter was 28,955 tonnes per day with a strip ratio of 0.43. The average grade of ore processed during the fourth quarter was 0.73 g/t gold, in line with plan. Gold sold during the fourth quarter 2023 totaled 31,300 ounces. Tonnes of waste mined remained lower than planned during the quarter as the Company awaited receipt of permits from the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (known as “SEMARNAT”) for access to certain areas of the pit. Fourth quarter cash costs and AISC totaled $536 and $802 per ounce of gold sold, respectively. AISC in the fourth quarter was impacted by higher sustaining capital related to the timing of execution of planned and unplanned projects.

 

Exploration and Projects Update

 

In the fourth quarter, exploration efforts were concentrated on drilling activities at Camino Rojo in Mexico and South Railroad in Nevada, US. Throughout 2023, drilling totaled 77,955 metres, with a focus on these key projects. In early 2024, Orla released multiple press releases highlighting the results of exploration activities from the second half of 2023 at the Camino Rojo and South Railroad projects.

 

Camino Rojo Exploration Update (Mexico)

 

In 2023, a comprehensive drilling program at Camino Rojo covered a total of 57,715 metres, with 37,677 metres allocated to infill and extension drilling on the Sulphides deposit, 6,503 metres drilled on the near-mine oxide extension, and 13,535 metres dedicated to regional exploration aimed at uncovering new satellite discoveries.

 

Following positive results from the 2023 Sulphides Extension drill program, exploration efforts in 2024 will shift from infill drilling of the Caracol-hosted Sulphides to focus on assessing the extensions of the Camino Rojo deposit, referenced below. The Company will also continue to advance underground resources estimation and advance the economic evaluation of the Caracol-hosted mineralization.

 

High grade poly-metallic gold-silver-zinc intersections continue to support potential for Camino Rojo Sulphides Extensions

 

Orla has confirmed and discovered new sulphide mineralization extending beyond the established open pit mineral resource boundaries at Camino Rojo. This drilling and mineralization is building on an updated geological model and the success of the previously reported CRSX22-15C hole drilled 200 metres down-plunge from the existing resources.

 

The highly positive intercepts, both historical and recent, justified the execution of a new drill section in the second half 2023, targeting 450 metres down-plunge from the existing resources, along the dike zone structure. This significant step-out drilling initiative consisted of drilling 2,400 metres, targeting the area around the positive historical intercept in hole CR12-366D (15.7 g/t Au, 29.0 g/t Ag, 0.73% Zn, 0.10 % Pb, 0.08% Cu (19.6 g/t AuEq) over 4.5 metres. This new drill section confirmed the presence of significant polymetallic semi-massive to massive sulphide replacement mineralization.

 

Initial metallurgical testing on polymetallic sulphide mineralization material from CRSX-22-07 and CRSX-22-08C were positive with high gold recovery reported in both CIL bottle roll tests between 81-96% and rougher flotation on the CRSX-22-07 material produced a gold concentrate with 85-88% gold recovery. Open-circuit zinc cleaner tests on material from CRSX-22-07 produced a zinc concentrate with zinc grades of 52% and over 85% zinc recovery. These results suggest this new style of mineralization may be amenable to both standard cyanide processing and flotation. Orla plans to further explore these promising results through additional metallurgical test work in 2024.

 

For additional details, please see press releases dated February 22, 2024 (Orla Mining Discovers New Style of Sulphide Mineralization at Camino Rojo Extending 0.5km Beyond Current Resources), and June 22, 2023 (Orla Mining Provides Update on Successful Drilling Program in Mexico).

 

Near mine oxide layback drilling seeking to confirm mineralization with targeted mineral resource addition

 

The Company completed drilling in the oxide pit layback to confirm and delineate mineralization on the Fresnillo property, located immediately north of and adjacent to the Camino Rojo Oxide Mine open pit. Results from the 2,503-metre layback drill program were positive and as expected and are included in the 2023 year-end mineral resource and mineral reserve estimate update set forth in the Company’s annual information form for the year ended December 31, 2023. Additionally, 4,000 metres of drilling was performed, with encouraging results, targeting the extension of oxide gold mineralization hosted by key structures controlling oxide mineralization within and beyond the currently designed oxide open pit.

 

South Railroad Exploration Update (Nevada, US)

 

Orla completed 14,695 metres of drilling in the first full year of exploration at South Railroad, following the acquisition of the project in August 2022. The exploration objectives at South Railroad are to upgrade and grow resources at satellite deposits and drill test multiple targets for new discovery. During the second half of 2023, exploration focused on infill drilling to support upgrading resources at the North Bullion deposit, testing the pit extension potential of the Dark Star and Pinion deposits, and testing exploration targets across the South Railroad Project.

 

Initial results released on March 7, 2024 demonstrated that the Company has extended oxide gold mineralization at the Pinion and Dark Star deposits outside of the current projected open pits. Meanwhile, infill drill results met expectations, confirming robust oxide mineralization within projected pits, while supplying material for new metallurgical column test work to further optimize the planned development project.

 

Subsequent to quarter end, the Company announced on February 26, 2024, the acquisition of Contact Gold Corp. Contact’s key asset is the 100%-owned Pony Creek property, a 4,500 hectare exploration land package, strategically located adjacent to Orla’s South Railroad property in the southern part of the Carlin trend in Nevada. Contact also owns the Green Springs property located in the southern end of the Cortez trend. Under the terms of the proposed transaction, each holder of Contact shares will receive, for each Contact share held, 0.0063 of an Orla common share, representing a total purchase price of approximately US$8.1 million. It is anticipated that the transaction with Contact will close in the second quarter of 2024.

 

An additional release of results related to the North Bullion deposit and other regional targets, as well as exploration plans for 2024, will be released in the coming weeks.

 

Full drill results are available at www.orlamining.com.

 

Panama Update

 

In November 2023, the National Assembly of Panama passed Law 407 that included a moratorium on granting, renewing, or extending concessions for the exploration, extraction, or exploitation of metal mining in Panama. On December 15, 2023, Minera Cerro Quema, S.A. the Company’s subsidiary that holds the Cerro Quema Project, received three resolutions from MICI. The resolutions rejected the request for extension for the three mining concessions comprising the Cerro Quema Project, retroactively declared the concessions canceled, and declared the area comprising the concessions to be a reserve area under the Panamanian mining code. Under the Panamanian mining code, MICI is prohibited from granting mining concessions for exploration or extraction on a reserve area. On December 26, 2023, MCQSA filed requests for reconsideration of MICI’s decisions. On March 11, 2024, MICI rejected the requests for reconsideration. For further details, please see the Orla’s press release dated December 18, 2023, Orla Mining Provides Update on Panama and the Cerro Quema Project.

 

The Company is exploring all legal remedies available to protect its historical investments and potentially unlock additional value for its stakeholders in respect of the Cerro Quema Project. The Company intends to file a Notice of Intent to Arbitrate under the FTA. The Notice of Intent facilitates consultations between the Government of Panama and the Company. In the event that such consultations are unsuccessful, the Company expects to proceed to file a Request for Arbitration. Although the Company intends to pursue these legal remedies, the Company’s preference is an amicable resolution with the Government of Panama that results in a positive outcome for all stakeholders.

 

In light of these events, the Company has evaluated the facts, circumstances, and the significant uncertainties associated with mining in Panama. Orla took a prudent approach and did not include any estimated future cash flows from activities involving the exploration, extraction, or exploitation of metal mining since these activities were legally prohibited as at December 31, 2023. As a result, the Company recognized an impairment charge of $72.4 million at the Cerro Quema Project during the year ended December 31, 2023. The estimated recoverable amount of $10.0 million relates to the value of land ownership and possession rights in Panama, which the Company acquired with a view to developing the project. This impairment has been taken without prejudice to, or without at present attributing any specific value to, the legal remedies that may be obtained through any arbitration proceedings or otherwise.

 

2024 Guidance

 

As set forth in the Company’s January 16, 2024 news release, gold production from the Camino Rojo Oxide Mine is expected to be 110,000 to 120,000 ounces in 2024. The Company is planning to mine approximately 8.3 million tonnes of ore and 9.9 million tonnes of waste for a total of 18.2 million tonnes mined resulting in a waste to ore strip ratio of 1.20. The increased strip ratio in 2024 is a result of increased waste mining planned for the east-west pit expansion following the receipt of applicable permits.

 

Gold Production Oz 110,000 – 120,000
Total Cash Cost (net of by-product) $/oz au sold $625 – $725
All-in sustaining cost (“AISC”) $/oz au sold $875 – $975
Capital Expenditures $m $31.0
    Sustaining capital expenditures $m $18.0
      PP&E / Leases $17.5
      Exploration – capitalized $0.5
    Non-sustaining capital expenditures $m $13.0
      Projects $2.0
      Exploration – capitalized

 

$11.0

 

Exploration Expenses & Project Development (expensed) $m $31.0
Corporate G&A (inclusive of share-based compensation) $m $19.0
1.  AISC is a non-GAAP measure. See the “Non-GAAP Measures” section of this news release for additional information.
2.  Exchange rates used to forecast cost metrics include MXN/USD of 18.0 and CAD/USD of 1.33. A +/-1.0 change to the MXN/USD exchange rate would have an impact of +/-$10/oz on AISC.

 

Camino Rojo’s 2024 total cash cost is expected to be in a range of $625 to $725 per ounce of gold sold, including royalties and net of changes in inventory, while sustaining capital expenditures are expected to total $18.0 million, of which $12.5 million is for the planned heap leach pad expansion (phase 2) which is scheduled for the first half of 2024 and $0.5 million is for capitalized exploration on the Camino Rojo oxide layback. About half of the annual sustaining capital is expected to be spent in the first quarter 2024, which will result in a higher AISC for the period. Non-sustaining capital is expected to total $13.0 million in 2024 with $11.0 million related to the Camino Rojo Extension exploration. AISC for 2024 is expected to be in the range of $875 to $975 per ounce of gold sold. The higher AISC guidance range in 2024 versus 2023 is predominantly a result of increased waste stripping at Camino Rojo (~$85/oz) and sustaining capital related to the heap leach pad expansion (~$110/oz).

 

Income tax expense during 2024, including Mexican Special Mining Duty, is expected to range between $35.0 and $40.0 million. The Company pays income tax in monthly instalments, with a final annual true-up in March upon filing its year-end tax returns. The Special Mining Duty related to 2023 totals $9.1 million and is expected to be paid in March of this year.

 

Financial Statements

 

Orla’s audited financial statements and management’s discussion and analysis for the year ended December 31, 2023, are available on the Company’s website at www.orlamining.com, and under the Company’s profiles on SEDAR+ and EDGAR.

 

Qualified Persons Statement

 

The scientific and technical information in this news release was reviewed and approved by Mr. J. Andrew Cormier, P. Eng., Chief Operating Officer of the Company, and Mr. Sylvain Guerard, P. Geo., Senior Vice President, Exploration of the Company, who are the Qualified Persons as defined under NI 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.

 

About Orla Mining Ltd.

 

Orla’s corporate strategy is to acquire, develop, and operate mineral properties where the Company’s expertise can substantially increase stakeholder value. The Company has two material gold projects: (1) Camino Rojo, located in Zacatecas State, Mexico and (2) South Railroad, located in Nevada, United States. Orla is operating the Camino Rojo Oxide Gold Mine, a gold and silver open-pit and heap leach mine. Orla is also developing the South Railroad Project, a feasibility-stage, open pit, heap leach gold project located on the Carlin trend in Nevada. The property is 100% owned by Orla and covers over 160,000 hectares which contains a large oxide and sulphide mineral resource. Orla also owns 100% of Cerro Quema located in Panama which includes a pre-feasibility-stage, open-pit, heap leach gold project and a copper-gold sulphide resource. The technical reports for the Company’s material projects are available on Orla’s website at www.orlamining.com, and on SEDAR+ and EDGAR under the Company’s profile at www.sedarplus.ca and www.sec.gov, respectively.

 

Posted March 20, 2024

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