TSX : AUE
AIM : AUE
TORONTO, March 12, 2012 /CNW/ - Aureus Mining Inc. (TSX: AUE / AIM: AUE) ("Aureus Mining" or the "Company") is pleased to announce its annual financial results for the period ended December 31, 2011 and to provide an operational update.
- Cash and cash equivalents of US$ 31.0 million;
- Total assets of US$ 82.4 million; and
- The Company is debt free.
New Liberty Project Highlights
- The Mineral Resource Estimate ("MRE") shows a Reserve of 873,000 ounces of gold grading 3.1 g/t. Planned production to average 123,000 ounces per annum in first four years with an average head grade of 3.7 g/t gold, with operating cash costs of US$ 632 / oz.;
- Pre-tax net present value ("NPV") of US$ 260 million and internal rate of return ("IRR") of 62% based on an average gold price of US$ 1,350 / oz and an 8% discount rate. Projected initial capex of $113 million, with payback in under two years;
- Ore body remains open to the west and at depth (>200m); and
- Additional 42 holes (7,815 metres) of diamond drilling undertaken since the Reserve announcement for New Liberty. Reserve and Resource to be updated in the Company's forthcoming Definitive Feasibility Study ("DFS"), now due early Q2 2012 to accommodate this updated Reserve.
- Successful generative exploration programmes completed around New Liberty, with ten targets identified for follow-up drilling programmes;
- Encouraging results from the first nine diamond drill holes of the 24 hole programme (3,691 metres) at Leopard Rock, returning multiple gold intercepts including 17.6 g/t over 4 metres and 9.4 g/t over 6 metres;
- Regional exploration programmes have outlined a +13km gold corridor, which is defined by gold in soil anomalies, reconnaissance trenching and drilling, and includes the Gondoja, Ndablama and Leopard Rock gold targets; and
- Exploration work has commenced in Cameroon, with trenching and soil sampling in progress along a 22km gold-bearing structure trending North-South within the Batouri licence.
- Aureus Mining was listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the AIM Market of the London Stock Exchange on 13 April 2011;
- C$40.4 million raised from a public equity offering in May 2011 to finance a DFS on the New Liberty Gold Project and further exploration programmes;
- Acquisition of the contiguous Archaen Gold exploration license covering 89 km2, located south of the Company's Bea Mountain mining license, and hosting the Leopard Rock gold prospect; and
- Successful recruitment of the Company's corporate, feasibility and exploration teams.
Looking Forward - Key Targets for 2012
- An Environmental Social and Impact Assessment ("ESIA") will be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia in Q2 2012;
- Completion of DFS early Q2 2012, Board approval for project development, ordering of long-lead plant items and commencement of civil construction;
- Complete financing for the construction of the New Liberty mine; and
- Continue with multi-phased exploration programmes, including c.25,000 metres of diamond drilling on priority gold targets.
Commenting on the results for Aureus Mining, David Reading, [President and] Chief Executive Officer of Aureus Mining, said:
"Since Aureus was created in April 2011, the Company has completed approximately 40,000m of exploration and development drilling in Liberia, adding an 873,000 ounce gold reserve at New Liberty, which will be Liberia's first ever commercial gold mine. The Company has now de-risked the New Liberty Project, which is only the beginning of our long term ambitions in the region. In addition, we have grown our licence base with the acquisition of the Archaean Gold licence, discovered significant exploration targets in our Liberian licences and built strong management and operational teams to continue the Company's fast growth trajectory."
Though 2011 was a momentous year for Aureus Mining, 2012 will see even greater progress with commencement of construction of the New Liberty Project and continuance of our aggressive exploration programmes. The definitive feasibility study, including an updated Reserve and Resource statement, will be published in the second quarter of this year and our funding negotiations for the building of the New Liberty mine continue apace."
To have achieved so much in such a short time period demonstrates the commitment, endeavour and support the Company receives from its shareholders, board, management and staff. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work and I look forward to another exciting year in the growth of Aureus Mining as one of west Africa's newest gold producers."
The financial statements and the accompanying Management's Discussion and Analysis are available for review at the Company's website, www.aureus-mining.com, as well as being available on www.sedar.com, and should be read in conjunction with this press release.
Aureus Mining will host a conference call on Monday March 12, 2012 at 09:30am (London, UK time) to update investors and analysts on its annual results. Participants may join the call by dialling one of the following numbers approximately 10 minutes before the start of the call.
|From UK: (toll free) 0800 368 1895||From US: (toll free) 1866 928 6049|
|From Canada: (toll free) 1866 561 8617||From rest of world: + 44 20 3140 0693|
|The Participant pass code is 918862#|
There will be a live audio webcast of the call which will be available at: http://mediaserve.buchanan.uk.com/2012/aureus120312/registration.asp
Aureus Mining was formed following the successful completion of a Plan of Arrangement with African Aura Mining Inc. ("African Aura"), upon which all of African Aura's gold and diamond interests were transferred to Aureus Mining and African Aura was renamed Afferro Mining Inc.
Immediately following the listing of Aureus Mining, a public offering was completed raising gross proceeds of C$40.4 million, further strengthening the balance sheet and leaving the Company fully funded for its mid-term objectives of completing the DFS and exploration drilling programmes.
RBC Capital Markets has been appointed as the Company's Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker with GMP Securities appointed as Joint Broker in February 2012.
The Company is progressing discussions with a shortlist of commercial banks, development banks and equipment suppliers regarding debt financing. The Company expects to be in the position to complete financing of the project during the second half of 2012.
FINANCIAL SUMMARY FOR 2011
The Company ended 2011 with US$31.0 million of cash, providing it with a strong balance sheet. The loss for the year predominantly relates to non-cash share based payment charges, legal fees relating to the public offering and unrealised foreign exchange losses, which are non-recurring charges. The current cash position of the Company is US$ 27.3 million as at 12 March 2012.
The following table presents a summary of selected financial data:
|(in US$'000 except per share amounts)|
|Statement of financial position|| December 31,
|Available for sale investments||1,428|
|Total assets (including cash and available for sale investments)|
||- Sierra Leone||3,274|
||- Corporate and other||32,251|
|Statement of comprehensive loss|| Period ended
December 31, 2011
|Loss for the period||7,499|
|Comprehensive loss for the period||9,822|
|Loss per share (US$)||0.066|
NEW LIBERTY FEASIBILITY STUDY
DFS due early in Q2 2012. The Company expects to complete and announce the results of its DFS in the second quarter of 2012. The DFS will include the detailed financial requirements for the development and production phases of the New Liberty Project.
Resource upgrade to 1.6 million ounces. Based on the completion of an additional 28,397 metres of drilling (190 holes drilled) the New Liberty Mineral Resource was upgraded to 1.6 million ounces grading 3.6 g/t Au, which includes 1.1 million ounces in the Measured and Indicated categories. The updated Mineral Resource Estimate was undertaken by Australian Mining Consultants (UK) Ltd ("AMC") in accordance with the requirements of NI 43-101. It incorporates all of the results from drilling as at 9 December 2011, being 375 holes for 57,830 meters and was calculated on the basis of a 1.0 g/t cut-off grade. The drilling results confirm high grades and continuity of the main zone over two kilometres and the presence of a footwall zone in the Eastern half of the orebody. Please refer to the company press release of 2 February 2012 for details of the resource estimation and www.aureus-mining.com for full assay results, plans and sections.
Reserves and Mining Design. The geotechnical and hydrology test work and the mine planning and optimisation work for the open pit designs have been conducted by AMC. A life of mine study by AMC is outlined below which assumes a mine production plan cut-off grade of 0.64 g/t and a gold price of US$ 1,250 / oz.
The key technical, operational and financial information has been summarised in the following table:
|Fresh Ore Mined||Mt||8.4|
|Oxide Ore Mined||Mt||0.3|
|Waste Mined (including pre-strip)||Mt||129.5|
|Total Material Mined||Mt||138.2|
|Total Mill Feed Processed||Mt||8.7|
|Open Pit Mining Life||Years||8|
|Contained Gold||Koz Au||873|
|Recovered Gold||Koz Au||812|
|Average Strip ratio||Waste/Ore||14.9:1|
|Average Head Grade||g/t||3.1|
|Average Gold Recovery||%||93|
|Average Annual Tonnes Processed||Mtpa||1.1|
|Average Annual Production Y1-Y4||oz Au / yr||123,000|
|Average Annual Production Y5-Y8||oz Au / yr||80,000|
The New Liberty Project will be an open pit mining operation, extracting ore at a nominal rate of 1.1 Mtpa with an operating life of eight years. The open pit will comprise two adjacent and interconnecting pits.
The mine design aspects were completed by AMC and comprised pit optimisation using Whittle-4X based on the Measured and Indicated Resources. A staged mining sequence was developed for production scheduling.
The mining schedule sees the operation produce a total of 8.7 Mt of ore grading 3.1 g/t with an associated 129.5 Mt of waste with an average life of mine stripping ratio of 14.9:1 over a life of eight years. The pit optimisations were undertaken at a gold price of US$ 1,250 / oz and a metallurgical recovery of 93%.
A steady state mining rate is planned after the initial period of waste pre-stripping at an annualised plant feed rate of 1.1 Mt. The annual waste mining rate is 21.5 Mt for the first five years followed by 6.9 Mt and then 4.3 Mt for the last year, which results in an average waste mining rate of 16.9 Mt. It is planned to pre-strip an estimated 11.0 Mt of waste at a cost of US$ 24.3 million, which is included in the initial mine capital cost budget.
Updated Resources and Reserves. Since the completion of the Updated Resource and the maiden Reserve, announced on 2 February 2012, a further 42 holes have been drilled into the orebody for 7,815 metres. The results of these holes will be incorporated into final wireframe model and new resource and reserve estimates will be published with the final DFS. The final optimization study for the mining plan will incorporate all of the latest drilling data with a view to maximizing profitability as well as the total quantity of ounces produced.
Metallurgical Design. DRA Mineral Projects (Pty) Ltd of South Africa ("DRA") is undertaking the metallurgical test work and process design studies. The metallurgical design of the process plant has been based on a review of the test work undertaken by the previous owners, African Aura, and new metallurgical test work undertaken by Mintek of South Africa, supervised by DRA to validate recovery and operating results. Detailed metallurgical test work has been conducted in both gravity / carbon in leach ("CIL") and floatation gold recovery methods.
A gravity / CIL recovery circuit has been recommended by DRA. The ore is non-refractory and is free milling. A process design is planned on a conventional CIL process with a minimum gold extraction recovery rate of 93%. The plant design will have a nominal milling capacity of 1.1 Mtpa based on fresh rock hardness factors and will allow for higher throughput when treating soft oxide material. The process plant will be located proximal to the eastern end of the open pit with a maximum haul distance of some 2.5 kilometres from the western end of the pit. Metallurgical studies are nearing completion and include optimization of the CIL design in an effort to achieve more than 93% gold recovery from the processing of the New Liberty ore.
Final design drawings for the 1.1 Mtpa plant have been completed.
Long-lead items. Ordering for long lead capital items will commence in Q3 2012. The critical long lead-items are the 1.1 Mtpa ball mill and the circuit crushing facility within the plant area and the mining fleet.
Infrastructure. Golders Associates Africa Ltd ("GAA") was appointed to assist with the design aspects of the tailings dam facility, Marvoe Creek diversion and process plant geotechnics. The general site geotechnical investigations for the infrastructure development design for the DFS are complete. GAA is preparing a final design for the Tailings Storage Facility ("TSF") with a capacity requirement of 8.7 Mt. GAA also completed a technical review for the Marvoe Creek diversion and is preparing a final design and materials estimate for the proposed 3.2 kilometres route diversion.
Sterilisation Drilling. As part of the mine infrastructure planning, a sterilisation drilling programme of 4,300 metres of diamond drill core has been completed covering the TSF and mine waste rock dump.
Power Supply. The DFS study is considering options for power supply using heavy fuel oil and / or diesel. In addition, a run of river hydroelectric power scheme is being evaluated based on discharge flow and hydraulic head created by the diverted Marvoe Creek. An opportunity exists for creating low-cost power for a portion of the year through the utilization of run of river hydroelectric installations.
Capital Costs. The initial capital cost of US$ 113 million includes the design and development of the processing plant, mining establishment and pre-strip, general mine infrastructure and power supply, tailings dam construction, creek diversion and general infrastructure. The capital costs are summarised as follows:
|Mine Establishment and pre-strip||28|
|Infrastructure and power supply||15|
|Tailings dam construction||3|
|Total Initial Capital||113|
Sustaining capital includes the sequential development of the tailings dam facility. The mine closure costs cover environmental aspects at the mine and process plant sites. Mining operations will be undertaken on a contract basis.
|Sustaining capital and mine closure||11|
|Mining Fleet over LOM||38|
Operating costs. The operating costs are summarised as follows:
|US$ M|| US$ / oz
|General and Administration||34||42|
The increased cost of diesel is the key driver behind the cash cost increase since the Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA").
Economic analysis. The economic analysis was undertaken on a pre-tax basis and pre Government free and carried interest and utilises an average gold price of US$ 1,350/oz over the eight year life.
|NPV pre-tax @ 8%||US$M||260|
|IRR pre tax||%||62|
Environmental and Social Impact Assessment ("ESIA"). The Company appointed Golders Associates (Ghana) Ltd ("GAGL") to undertake the ESIA with assistance provided by local Liberian consultants and environmental specialists. The ESIA is being completed to meet Liberian legislative requirements and international standards, including IFC Performance Standards and Equator Principles.
Baseline data collection for the ESIA was initiated in Q4 2010 and is now substantially complete. As required by Liberian environmental legislation, a Project Brief was submitted to and approved by the Liberian Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") during 2011. The draft terms of reference for the ESIA was submitted to the Liberian EPA in February 2012.
A public consultation process is also being conducted as part of the ESIA and which is anticipated to be completed in April 2012.
Digby Wells & Associates (Pty) Ltd of South Africa and Earthcons Ltd, a Liberian environmental consultancy firm, have been appointed to develop and finalise the Resettlement Action Plan ("RAP") for the Kinjor and Larjor villages. The RAP process is planned to be completed in August 2012.
Exploration focus designed to achieve three strategic objectives. Exploration programmes in Liberia have been designed to complete three strategic objectives: 1) add ounces to the New Liberty project through completion of exploration activities around the deposit; 2) target exploration involving drilling programmes at Leopard Rock, Ndablama, Gondoja and Weaju with the objective of increasing the Resource base; and finally 3) provide generative exploration work to outline new gold targets within the Company's license portfolio in Liberia. All three exploration programmes have been progressed in 2011 and continue in 2012.
Exploration around the New Liberty deposit. Induced polarization ("IP") and magnetic surveys have been completed over the New Liberty deposit and surrounding areas covering 35km2. This work demonstrates that the sulphide mineralisation has a distinctive IP signature and the ultramafic host rock has a definite magnetic signature. These signatures have been mapped using ground geophysical programmes and ten targets have been defined for follow up drill testing. To date, only two of these target zones have been drilled and these are referred to as the East and Far East targets. The eastern target effectively extended the ore body another one hundred metres eastwards and this work was incorporated in the last Resource model. The Far East target intersected up to thirty metres of sulphide mineralisation but no significant gold values were reported. Follow-up drilling is now in progress on the other eight targets and this includes a potential western extension to the orezone where previous drilling gave encouraging gold intercepts of 10 metres grading 5.25 g/t in KGD 177 and 9 metres grading 1.3 g/t in KGD177. The follow-up drilling programmes around New Liberty are designed to drill some 50 holes for approximately 8,000 metres.
Ndablama Prospect, multiple mineralised zones outlined. The Ndablama prospect is located approximately 40 kilometres north-east of the New Liberty project within the Bea Mountain Mining Licence. Over one kilometre of intensive artisanal activity has been worked over which includes associated gold in soil anomalies with values of between 150 and 3,000 ppb. Previously, the Company reported trench and diamond drill hole results, which defined an area of 150 metres east - west by 900 metres north - south. This zone is referred to as the Central zone. Further trenching to the north and south-east of the Central zone has highlighted additional mineralised zones, which are referred to as the North and East zones. The North and East zones both have approximate dimensions of 200 metres in a north - south direction. In all cases gold bearing rocks are associated with sheared, folded and altered amphibolites and talc-tremolite schists close to their contacts with granite dykes and pegmatites.
To date a total of 63 trenches and 15 drill holes have been completed at Ndablama. A full summary of the all the borehole and trench results are reported in the company's press releases of April 19 and July 12, 2011 (please refer to www.aureus-mining.com).
Interpretation of all available information indicates both vertical and shallow dipping orientations to the zones of gold mineralisation. A ground magnetics survey has been completed and a phase two diamond drilling programme of 3,450 metres (22 holes) has just commenced at Ndablama.
Leopard Rock gold target. Soil geochemistry, reconnaissance trenching and diamond drilling programmes have outlined a +1.5km shear zone target which is still open to the NW and SE around the Leopard Rock gold target.
The Leopard Rock gold target locates approximately 40 kilometres ENE of the New Liberty deposit within the Archaean gold exploration license. Exploration work has been in progress on this target area over the last five months and includes programmes of soil geochemistry, geological mapping, rock chip channel sampling, trenching and diamond drilling. This work has outlined a +1.5km, NW-SE trending gold in soil anomaly which is associated with sheared ultramafic and meta-basalt rocks.
A trenching and channel programme within the shear zone has confirmed bedrock gold mineralisation over a least 1.2 kilometres of the soil anomaly and further trenching results are pending to the south-west. All of the trench and channel sample results are given in Table 1 below:
Table 1: Leopard Rock trench and channel sample results
|Trench ID||From (m)||To (m)||Length (m)||Au Grade g/t||Including g/t|
|LT02||15||28||13||1.0||4m @ 0.6|
|LT09||18||45||27||1.3||13m @ 2.0|
|LT010||6||31||25||1.8||4m @ 6.9|
|64||82||18||0.7||7m @ 1.0|
|Assay grade data is un-cut.|
The trenching and surface channel sampling work has outlined multiple gold zones over widths of 2 to 27 metres which have returned grades ranging from 0.5 g/t to 7 g/t. All trenches were excavated to a depth of two metres and channel sampled at continuous one metre intervals along the base of the trench.
A diamond drilling programme designed to test 800m strike of the target zone commenced in December 2011. To date, 24 holes have been completed for 3,691 metres. Results have been received for the first nine holes and are tabulated as follows:
Table 2: Leopard Rock Diamond drill hole results
|Borehole ID||From (m)||To (m)|| Core Length
| Au Grade
|52||61||9||1.9||3m @ 5.0|
|LDD009||107||113||6||9.4||4m @ 13.9|
| Assay grade data is un-cut.
NSV - No Significant Value
The diamond drilling cores demonstrate that the gold mineralisation is associated with disseminated pyrite, pyrhotite and arsenopyrite locating within sheared and altered ultramafic and metabasalt rocks which have been intruded by granitic dykes. Gold zones vary from thin (1-4 metres) higher grade (+5 g/t) bodies to wider intercepts (8-20 metres) grading 0.7 to 2.0 g/t. Further diamond drilling is planned along the north-west extension of the mineralised system as defined by gold in soil anomalies and trenching.
Exploration programmes highlight a +13km gold corridor extending from Leopard rock to Gondoja.
Regional exploration work has been undertaken within the Leopard Rock, Ndablama and Gondoja areas involving soil geochemistry, channel sampling, trenching and diamond drilling. The gold in soil anomalies define a zone of continuous anomalism over thirteen kilometres in length and widths of over one kilometre. The gold in soil anomalies have been drill tested and trenched at the Ndablama, Leopard Rock and Gondoja targets and in all cases this work as returned gold mineralisation within the bedrock confirming the source of the soil anomalies. To date only 15 % of the gold corridor has been drill tested. Now that the Leopard Rock drilling has been completed, the Company has moved the diamond rigs to Ndablama to complete another 3,500 metres of drilling and they will then be moved on to the Gondoja targets to complete a further 4000 metres of drilling.
The estimates of mineral Resources were calculated in accordance with NI 43-101 and carried out by Chris G Arnold BSc (Hons), MSc, MAusIMM (CP) of independent consultants AMC. The Reserve Study was prepared by Mr M Staples of AMC, a Qualified Person, for the purposes of the study, under the standards set forth by National Instrument 43-101 "Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Project", of the Canadian Securities Administrators ("NI 43-101"), and he has also reviewed and approved the contents of this news release, as applicable
About Aureus Mining
The Company's assets include the New Liberty gold deposit in Liberia (the "New Liberty Gold Project"), which has an estimated Reserve of 873,000 ounces of gold grading 3.1 g/t and an estimated Measured and Indicated Mineral Resource of 1,086,000 ounces of gold grading 3.6 g/t and an estimated Inferred Mineral Resource of 483,000 ounces of gold grading 3.5 g/t. A technical update for the New Liberty gold project was released in February 2012, derisking and building on the robust PEA, filed in December 2010. This update outlined an improved pre-tax NPV of US$260 million based on a US$ 1,350 / oz. gold price and a discount rate of 8 %, with an eight year mine life and annual production of 123,000 ounces for the first four years.
The New Liberty Gold Project is located within the Bea Mountain mining license which covers 457 km² and has a 25 year, renewable, mineral development agreement. The Bea Mountain mining license also hosts the proximal gold targets of Ndablama, Weaju, Silver Hills and Gondoja, which are the focus of exploration programs during 2012.
The Company also has gold assets within exploration properties in Cameroon.
This press release contains certain forward-looking information. All information, other than information regarding historical fact, that addresses activities, events or developments that Aureus Mining believes, expects or anticipates will or may occur in the future is forward-looking information. Forward-looking information contained in this press release includes, but may not be limited to, the future plans and objectives of Aureus Mining and their anticipated future growth, mineral resource estimates and the anticipated exploration and development activities of Aureus Mining. The foregoing and any other forward-looking information contained in this press release reflects the current expectations, assumptions or beliefs of Aureus Mining based on information currently available to Aureus Mining. With respect to the forward-looking information contained in this press release, Aureus Mining has made assumptions regarding, among other things: general business, economic and mining industry conditions; and it has also been assumed that no material adverse change in the price of precious and/or base metals occurs, no unusual geological or technical problems occur and no significant events occur outside of the normal course of Aureus Mining's respective business.
Such forward-looking information is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations, including: risks normally incidental to exploration and development of mineral properties; uncertainties in the interpretation of results from drilling and test work; the possibility that future exploration, development or mining results will not be consistent with expectations; uncertainty of mineral resources estimates; adverse changes in precious and/or base metal prices; and future unforeseen liabilities and other factors including, but not limited to, those listed under "Risk Factors" in the Preliminary Prospectus of Aureus Mining Inc. dated April 20, 2011, a copy of which is available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com, and in the Aureus Mining Admission Document, a copy of which is available at www.aureus-mining.com.
Any mineral resource figures referred to in this press release are estimates and no assurances can be given that the indicated levels of minerals will be produced. Such estimates are expressions of judgment based on knowledge, mining experience, analysis of drilling results and industry practices. Valid estimates made at a given time may significantly change when new information becomes available. While Aureus Mining believes that the mineral resource estimates in respect of their respective properties are well established, by their nature mineral resource estimates are imprecise and depend, to a certain extent, upon statistical inferences which may ultimately prove unreliable. If such mineral resource estimates are inaccurate or are reduced in the future, this could have a material adverse impact on Aureus Mining, as applicable. Due to the uncertainty that may be attached to inferred mineral resources, it cannot be assumed that all or any part of an inferred mineral resource will be upgraded to an indicated or measured mineral resource as a result of continued exploration.
Forward-looking information speaks only as of the date on which it is made and, except as may be required by applicable law, Aureus Mining disclaims any obligation to update or modify such forward-looking information, either as a result of new information, future events or for any other reason.
For further information:
Aureus Mining Inc.
David Reading / Jeremy Cave
Tel: +44(0) 20 7257 2930
Bobby Morse / James Strong
Tel: +44(0) 20 7466 5000
RBC Capital Markets (Nominated Advisor and Joint Broker)
Martin Eales / Richard Hughes
Tel: +44(0) 20 7653 4000
GMP Securities Europe LLP (Joint Broker)
Richard Greenfield / Alexandra Carse
Tel: +44(0) 20 7647 2800