Nevsun Resources Ltd. (TSX:NSU / NYSE Amex:NSU) is pleased to report its financial and operating results for the first quarter of 2013. Unless otherwise noted, with the exception of earnings per share and cash cost per ounce figures, all results are in thousands of US dollars.
This release should be read in conjunction with Nevsun Resources Ltd.’s (Nevsun or the Company) condensed consolidated interim financial statements for the three months ended March 31, 2013, and associated Management Discussion and Analysis (MD&A), which are available on the Company’s website, on SEDAR and on EDGAR .
FIRST QUARTER 2013 HIGHLIGHTS
- Produced 42,300 ounces of gold
- Revenues of $71.1 million
- Cash cost of $563 per ounce of gold sold(1)
- Net income attributable to Nevsun shareholders was $10.6 million, $0.05 per share
- More gold and silver bearing ore identified in the Bisha Main pit
- Copper flotation plant on schedule, on budget and nearly complete
- Paid $0.05 dividend per share on January 15, 2013
- Maintained strong balance sheet with over $400 million in working capital
- Subsequent to quarter-end, the Company published its 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility Report
(1) Cash cost per ounce sold includes royalties and is a non-GAAP measure; see cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measure in the MD&A.
“The Company’s performance for the first quarter of 2013 was strong, particularly when considering that we are in the process of winding down the gold phase and completing construction of the Bisha copper plant” stated Cliff Davis, President and CEO of Nevsun.
“While we had higher cash costs than 2012, the Bisha Mine is still among the lowest cost mines in the industry and the positive cash margins have continued to fund the copper phase expansion, which is nearly complete. We maintained a very strong balance sheet at quarter-end with $400.7 million in working capital, including $335.2 million in cash, and no debt.
At year-end, we reported 40,000 to 60,000 tonnes of material termed “pyrite sands“, at the base of the oxide gold in the Bisha Main pit. The Company now estimates there are approximately 250,000 tonnes of pyrite sand ore varying from 3 to 10 grams per tonne gold and exceeding 100 grams per tonne silver, with some pockets at even higher grades. Because the ore is pyritic, it cannot be processed in the carbon-in-leach (CIL) gold plant. Pending ongoing test work and economic analysis, the Company will likely concentrate some of this material through the new copper flotation plant, prior to starting supergene copper production. The resultant precious metals concentrate will then either be sold directly, blended with copper concentrate or a combination thereof.
We estimate processing pyrite sands could take six to seven weeks, possibly pushing the start of supergene copper production into late Q3 2013, with completion of ramp up to commercial production in Q1 2014. We see this likely delay as a positive trade-off for the value expected to be gained from the pyrite sands.”
Key operating information – Bisha Mine:
|For the three months ended March 31,|
|Ore mined, tonnes||475,000||349,000|
|Waste mined, tonnes(1)||1,925,000||1,826,000|
|Strip ratio, (using BCMs)||5.1||6.2|
|Copper phase prestrip, tonnes||–||739,000|
|Gold grade (g/t)||4.14||6.58|
|Recovery, % of gold||79%||86%|
|Gold in doré, ounces produced||42,300||82,000|
|Gold ounces sold||41,500||83,100|
|Gold price realized per ounce||$ 1,592||$ 1,712|
|Cash cost per ounce sold(2)||$ 563||$ 277|
(1) All waste tonnes mined reflect updated rock density estimates.
(2) Cash cost per ounce sold includes royalties and is a non-GAAP measure; see cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measure in the MD&A.
Approximately half of the ore mined in Q1 2013 came from the Harena satellite deposit, which is lower grade than Bisha, hence the drop in feed grade from Q1 2012 of 6.58 g/t to 4.14 g/t in Q1 2013.
Mining of the oxide material at the Harena deposit is nearing completion. The strip ratio was expected to be higher in Q1 2013 as compared to Q1 2012, as the plan was to move more waste in Q1 2013 than was actually achieved. The lower than planned waste mined resulted from a combination of equipment availabilities, which negatively impacted the mining schedule, coupled with subgrade mineralized waste being reclassified as ore as it was required to blend with the high grade Bisha acid ores.
Gold recovery of 79% for Q1 2013, which was less than the 86% experienced in Q1 2012, was as expected and was attributable to changes in ore mineralogy. The reduction of gold ounces sold to 41,500 in Q1 2013 from the 83,100 ounces sold in Q1 2012 is due to the lower level of gold produced in Q1 2013, which was a result of the lower grades and mill recoveries. The decrease in physical ounces produced was within the Company’s expectations and guidance.
Gold cash costs per ounce for Q1 2013 were $563 on 41,500 ounces sold, which included $124 per ounce in silver by-product credits, an increase in cash cost per ounce as compared with $277 in Q1 2012, including $86 per ounce in silver by-product credits. The increase in cash operating costs in Q1 2013 compared to Q1 2012 is primarily attributable to a reduction in gold ounces sold and the accompanying increase in mining and milling costs per ounce produced, partly offset by higher silver by-product credits.
Summary of financial results:
|In US $000s (except per share data)||For the three months ended March 31,|
|Revenues||$ 71,130||$ 149,390|
|Net income attributable to Nevsun shareholders||10,625||41,238|
|Earnings per share attributable to Nevsun shareholders||0.05||0.21|
|Total assets||$ 854,121||$ 747,148|
Details of revenue breakdown for gold and silver, operating expenses, depreciation and depletion, and other expenses are discussed in the Company’s first quarter 2013 MD&A.
Working capital at March 31, 2013, including cash and cash equivalents, was just over $400,000, approximately the same as at December 31, 2012. The Company’s cash and cash equivalents at March 31, 2013, of $335,168, was down from $396,404 as a result of paying dividends ($9,949), income taxes ($44,484) and investing in copper plant and other capital ($28,422). Details of sources and uses of cash are presented in the first quarter financial statements and discussed in the MD&A.