Aureus Mining Inc. - Financial Results for Year Ended December 31, 2015 and 2015 Operational Review

TSX : AUE
AIM : AUE

TORONTO, March 30, 2016 /CNW/ - Aureus Mining Inc. ("Aureus" or the "Company"), the TSX and AIM listed West African gold producer, is pleased to announce its audited annual financial results for the year ended December 31, 2015 and to provide an operational review for 2015.

During the 2015 financial year under review, the Company has continued to build on the work of previous years and completed the construction and commissioning of the New Liberty Gold Mine, the first commercial gold mine in the Republic of Liberia, with Commercial Production declared from March 1, 2016. Aureus would like to thank its shareholders for their support and loyalty during this difficult period in both the Company's history and wider gold mining industry. 

Financial Highlights

  • Year-end cash of US$ 7.1 million;
  • Revenues of US$ 19.2 million from gold sales of 17,172 ounces capitalised as pre-production revenue;
  • Capital additions of US$ 77 million to New Liberty offset by an impairment charge of US$ 50.4 million based on reduced gold price assumption;
  • Carrying value of New Liberty US$ 221 million;
  • Equity of US$ 28.1 million raised and US$ 30 million of debt drawn during the financial year; and
  • Post year end, negotiations continue with the Company's lenders with regards to the Company's future debt repayment schedule.

Operational Highlights

  • Mining operations at New Liberty commenced in January 2015, with a successful completion of the first blast of 25,000 tonnes of waste rock;
  • Cold and Hot Plant Commissioning commenced in April 2015 and completed in June 2015;
  • First gold was poured at the New Liberty Gold Mine during May 2015 in line with the Project schedule and budget;
  • New Liberty Process Plant achieved name plate capacity and gold shipments commenced in July 2015;
  • Commercial Production declared effective March 1, 2016 with operating recovery levels exceeding 90%.
  • Bea Mountain Class A Mining Licence extended to 478km2 to include the Leopard Rock gold target; and
  • Consolidation of 281km2 of highly prospective exploration ground contiguous to the Bea Mountain Class A Mining Licence during November 2015.

2015 Operational Review

During early 2015, the Republic of Liberia made significant progress in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease ("EVD"), with the World Health Organisation ("WHO") declaring Liberia Ebola Free on May 9, 2015 following a period of 42 continuous days elapsing without a confirmed case of the Ebola virus in the country. During this period, civil construction and mining operations progressed at New Liberty with blasting operations commencing during January 2015.

During April 2015, cold and hot plant commissioning activities commenced at New Liberty focusing on the front end infrastructure of the processing plant, whilst piping and electrical installation was completed in the remainder of the process plant.

During this period, the Company also successfully extended its Bea Mountain Mining Licence in accordance with the Minerals and Mining Law for Liberia to include the entire 13 kilometre gold bearing structural corridor that stretches from the Gondoja target to the Leopard Rock South target.  This mineralised corridor includes eight prospective targets, including the Ndablama target and increased the Company's mining licence to a total of 478km2.

The granting of the enlargement of the licence gives the Company the right for the commercial development of the entire mineralised gold corridor under the same parameters as detailed in Aureus' Mineral Development Agreement ("MDA"), subject to the granting of an Environmental Permit.

During May 2015, all steel erection and civil works at the process plant were completed, whilst commissioning activities were completed on the Front End Comminution Circuit, including both the milling and gravity circuits, with commissioning work commencing on the extraction circuits of the process plant including the Carbon in Leach ("CIL"), elution and detox circuits. 

A significant milestone for the Project was achieved at the end of May 2015, with first gold being poured at the Project, in line with the Project schedule. Following the first gold pour, work continued on the commissioning of the process plant including the final commissioning of CIL tanks and the installation of the Vertimill.

During July 2015, the plant passed a 24-hour performance test and reached its name-plate capacity, with the first shipment of gold doré being transported from New Liberty to MKS PAMP in Switzerland for refining. During the period between the plant reaching nameplate capacity in mid-July 2015 and the end of August 2015, there were a further three gold doré shipments from New Liberty, whilst plant commissioning activities continued to progress towards commercial production levels.

Following Liberia being declared free of Ebola by the WHO for the second time on September 3, 2015, there was a small resurgence of cases of EVD within Monrovia during November 2015. On December 3, 2015, the last two Ebola patients in Liberia were discharged from hospital following a second consecutive negative test for EVD. Human-to-human transmission of Ebola was declared over in Liberia 42 days after this test on January 14, 2016.

During November 2015, in accordance with the Company's strategy of building a long term and sustainable gold district in Liberia, the Company entered into an agreement to acquire three highly prospective exploration licences totalling 281km2 from Sarama Resources Ltd. ("Sarama"). The licences were located contiguous to the Company's Bea Mountain Mining Licence and close to the New Liberty Gold Mine. Prior to the acquisition agreement, Sarama had conducted a US$ 1.8 million exploration programme over the licences including an airborne magnetic survey and regional soil sampling programme, which lead to the identification of a 15 km gold in soil anomaly that straddles the Cape Mount and Cape Mount East licences and corresponds to the westerly extension of the Bea Mountain Greenstone Belt. Sarama also undertook a 15 hole 1,600 metre drill programme with gold mineralisation being intercepted in all but one of the 15 drill holes.

The Company experienced unexpected commissioning issues and equipment failures within the process plant during the latter stages of 2015, resulting in gold production of 17,172 during 2015.  Optimisation activities continued to focus upon improving plant performance, in particular within the gravity and CIL circuits of the process plant, to within its original design specifications during late 2015 and early 2016, and resulted in improvements in overall gold recovery levels throughout January and February 2016. As a direct result of the operational improvements made within the process plant, gold recovery levels steadily increased from approximately 73% in mid-January 2016 to reach a stable level of 90% by the end of February 2016.

Commercial Production was declared at New Liberty, effective March 1, 2016, with gold production in excess of 9,000 ounces during the month of February 2016, and gold recovery levels continuing to remain in excess of 90% throughout operations during March.

Commenting on 2015 operations, David Reading, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aureus Mining, said:

"2015 was a difficult period for the mining industry and the Company, however it was also a transformational period for the Company as we made a successful transition from gold developer to producer. Although the commissioning stage of the Project brought some unexpected challenges, I am proud that we were able to successfully navigate through them, and declare commercial production at New Liberty. 

"The near term focus of the Company is to complete the new mine plan and finalise a debt repayment schedule with our lenders, whilst ensuring that mining progresses to schedule throughout the wet season to facilitate the availability of sufficient ore stock for continued plant operations.

"I would like to extend my thanks to our shareholders and lenders for their continuing support as we now look forward to delivering profitable ounces from the New Liberty Gold Mine in accordance with our longer term business plan."

Financial Statements and Management's Discussion and Analysis

The Financial Statements and the accompanying Management's Discussion and Analysis ("MD&A") for the year ended December 31, 2015 are available for review at the Company's website, www.aureus-mining.com, and on www.sedar.com, and should be read in conjunction with this press release.

About Aureus Mining Inc.

The Company's assets include the New Liberty Gold Mine in Liberia (the "New Liberty Gold Mine," "New Liberty" or the "mine") which has an estimated proven and probable mineral reserve of 8.5 Mt with 924,000 ounces of gold grading 3.4 g/t and an estimated measured and indicated mineral resource of 9,796 Kt with 1,143,000 ounces of gold grading 3.63 g/t and an estimated inferred mineral resource of 5,730 Kt with 593,000 ounces of gold grading 3.2 g/t. A Definitive Feasibility Study ("DFS") has been completed, the first gold pour has taken place and work continues on commissioning the plant for full scale commercial production. The mine is expected to have an 8 year life and annual production of 119,000 ounces for the first 6 years of production. The foregoing mineral reserve and mineral resource estimates and additional information in connection therewith are set out in the Company's technical report dated March 25, 2015 and entitled "New Liberty Gold Project, Bea Mountain Mining Licence Southern Block, Liberia, West Africa, Definitive Project Plan."

The New Liberty Gold Mine is located within the Southern Block of the 100% owned Bea Mountain mining licence. This licence covers 478 km² and has a 25 year, renewable, mineral development agreement. The Bea Mountain mining license also hosts additional gold projects of Ndablama, Gondoja, Weaju and Leopard Rock which are the focus of exploration programs during 2016. Ndablama has an indicated mineral resource of 386,000 ounces of gold grading 1.6 g/t and inferred mineral resource of 515,000 ounces of gold grading 1.7 g/t and Weaju has an inferred mineral resource of 178,000 ounces of gold grading 2.1 g/t.  The Yambesei (759 km2), Archaen West (112.6 km2), Mabong (36.6 km2) and Mafa West (15.6 km2) licences will also be subject to preliminary reconnaissance geological work. The foregoing mineral resource estimates and additional information in connection therewith are set out in the Company's technical report dated December 1, 2014 and entitled "Ndablama and Weaju Gold Projects, Bea Mountain Mining Licence, Northern Block, Technical Report on Mineral Resources" ("Ndablama and Weaju Technical Report 2014").

The Company also has a gold exploration permit in Cameroon.

Qualified Persons

The Company's Qualified Person is David Reading, who holds a MSc in Economic Geology from University of Waterloo, Canada and is a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. David Reading is the President and CEO of Aureus Mining Inc. and has reviewed and approves this press release.

Forward Looking Statements

Certain information contained in this Announcement constitutes forward looking information. This information may relate to future events or the Company's future performance. All information other than information of historical fact is forward looking information. The use of any of the words "anticipate", "plan", "continue", "estimate", "expect", "may", "will", "project", "should", "believe", "predict" and "potential" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward looking information. This information involves known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated in such forward looking information. No assurance can be given that this information will prove to be correct and such forward looking information included in this Announcement should not be unduly relied upon. This information speaks only as of the date of this Announcement. Such forward looking information includes, among other things, statements or information relating to: the application of proposed financing proceeds to strengthening the Company's balance sheet and reduction of accounts payable, the Company's ability to meet future debt repayment obligations and to obtain waivers and amendments in respect thereof, the Company's New Liberty Gold Mine in Liberia (the "New Liberty Gold Mine"), the continuation of commercial production at the New Liberty Gold Mine and the proposed plans relating thereto regarding operations, the provision of additional mining equipment and explosives and their impact on the mining rate, estimates relating to tonnage, grades, waste ratios, recovery rates and future gold production, life-of-mine estimates, expectations regarding throughput gold production, mill treatment and plant feed, estimates of capital and operating costs and start-up costs, anticipated sources of funding, expectations regarding the engagement of external contractors, estimates of revenues and pay-back periods, expectations regarding operating parameters, as well as the other forecasts, estimates and expectations relating to the New Liberty Gold Mine included in this Announcement; the future market price of commodities; production targets; timetables; the continued listing of the common shares of the Company on the TSX and AIM.

With respect to forward looking information contained in this Announcement, assumptions have been made regarding, among other things: general business, economic and mining industry conditions; interest rates and foreign exchange rates; the impact of proposed provision of additional equipment and explosives on the mining rate; the parameters and assumptions employed in the New Liberty Technical Report, (including but not limited to, those relating to future mining and operating costs, processing and recovery rates, net present values and internal rates of return, timing for the commencement of production, tax and royalty rates, future gold prices, metallurgical rates, operations and management, grades); the supply and demand for commodities and precious and base metals and the level and volatility of the prices of gold; the ability of the Company to raise sufficient funds from capital markets and/or debt to meet its future obligations and planned activities; the obtaining of waivers and amendments from the Company's creditors in respect of its debt repayment obligations; the business of the Company including the political environments and legal and regulatory frameworks in Liberia with respect to, among other things, the ability of the Company to obtain, maintain, renew and/or extend required permits, licences, authorizations and/or approvals from the appropriate regulatory authorities and the ability of the Company to continue to obtain qualified staff and equipment in a timely and cost-efficient manner to meet its demand.

Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward looking information contained in this Announcement as a result of the risk factors, including: risks normally incidental to exploration and development of mineral properties; the inability of the Company to obtain required financing, when needed and/or on acceptable terms or at all; the inability to obtain required waivers and amendments from the Company's creditors in respect of its debt repayment obligations and consequential risks of default thereon; risks related to operating in West Africa; health risks associated with the mining workforce in West Africa; risks related to the Company's title to its mineral properties; adverse changes in commodity prices; risks related to current global financial conditions; risks that the Company's exploration for and development of mineral deposits may not be successful; the inability of the Company to obtain, maintain, renew and/or extend required licences, permits, authorizations and/or approvals from the appropriate regulatory authorities and other risks relating to the legal and regulatory frameworks in Liberia, including adverse changes in applicable laws; competitive conditions in the mineral exploration and mining industry; risks related to obtaining insurance or adequate levels of insurance for the Company's operations; uncertainty of mineral resource and reserve estimates; the inability of the Company to delineate additional mineral resources; risks related to environmental regulations; uncertainties in the interpretation of results from drilling; uncertainties in the estimates and assumptions used, and risks in the methodologies employed, in the New Liberty Technical Report and that the completion of additional work at the New Liberty Gold Mine could result in changes to the forecasts, estimates and expectations contained in the New Liberty Technical Report; risks related to the legal systems in Liberia; risks related to the tax residency of the Company; the possibility that future exploration, development or mining results will not be consistent with expectations; inflation; changes in exchange and interest rates; risks related to the activities of artisanal miners; actions of third parties that the Company is reliant upon; lack of availability at a reasonable cost or at all, of plants, equipment or labour, including required equipment, explosives and other necessary material not being delivered in the expected time frame, or at all; the inability to attract and retain key management and personnel; political risks; the inability to enforce judgments against the Company's directors and officers; and future unforeseen liabilities and other factors.

The forward looking information included in this Announcement is expressly qualified by this cautionary statement and is made as of the date of this Announcement. The Company does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward looking information except as required by applicable securities laws.

SOURCE Aureus Mining Inc.

For further information: Aureus Mining Inc., David Reading / Paul Thomson, Tel: +44(0) 20 7010 7690; Buchanan, Bobby Morse / Anna Michniewicz, Tel: +44(0) 20 7466 5000; Numis Securities Limited, (Nominated Adviser), John Prior / James Black / Paul Gillam, Tel: +44(0) 20 7260 1000; RBC Capital Markets, (Financial Advisor), Richard Horrocks-Taylor / Richard Hughes, Tel: +44(0) 20 7653 4000

RELATED LINKS
www.aureus-mining.com

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