Karora Resources Inc. (TSX: KRR) ("Karora" or the “Corporation" – https://www.commodity-tv.com/ondemand/companies/profil/karora-resources-inc/) is pleased to announce its financial results and review of activities for the three and six months ended June 30, 2021. All amounts are expressed in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise noted. For additional information please refer to Karora’s Management’s Discussion & Analysis ("MD&A") and unaudited condensed interim financial statements for the three and six months ended June 30, 2021 and 2020.
- Record second quarter 2021 consolidated gold production of 29,831 ounces and gold sales of 30,412 ounces was ahead of budget, positioning the Corporation well to deliver 2021 guidance. Full year consolidated 2021 gold production guidance of 105,000 to 115,000 ounces is maintained (assumes no significant interruption to operations as a result of the COVID-19 virus).
- Second quarter 2021 consolidated all-in-sustaining-costs (“AISC”)1 of US$996 per ounce was on track with the full year 2021 guided range of US$985-$1,085 per ounce and a 5% reduction, or US$53 per ounce, compared to first quarter AISC of US$1,049 per ounce.
- Adjusted earnings1 of $14.3 million, or $0.10 per share for the second quarter of 2021, up $11.6 million from $2.7 million in the second quarter of 2020 and up $6.2 million (or $0.04 per share) compared to the first quarter of 2021.
- Adjusted EBITDA1 was $29.5 million or $0.20 per share for the second quarter of 2021, up $9.2 million from $20.3 million in the second quarter of 2020 and up $8.3 million from $21.2 million in the first quarter of 2021.
- Cash flow from operating activities of $26.4 million, an 18% increase compared to $22.3 million for the second quarter of 2020 and up $7.7 million (or $0.05 per share) compared to the first quarter of 2021.
- Karora ended the second quarter of 2021 with a strong cash position of $82.2 million and working capital of $64.8 million, higher by $5.5 million and $1.6 million, respectively, from March 31, 2021.
- On June 28, 2021 the Corporation announced a multi-year growth plan funded through operating cash flows and current cash balance. Three-year production and cost guidance will approximately double consolidated gold production to 185,000 – 205,000 ounces by 2024 at an AISC of US$885-US$985 per ounce. The growth plan includes a significant expansion of Beta Hunt to increase underground production to 2.0 million tonnes per annum (“Mtpa”) by 2024 through the addition of a second decline.
- The three year growth plan includes a Phase II expansion of the Higginsville processing plant, increasing throughput to 2.5 Mtpa by 2024. A Phase I expansion to 1.6 Mtpa from 1.4 Mtpa is currently underway.
- Karora announced a new high grade nickel discovery at Beta Hunt, the second in the last six months, known as the Gamma Zone – 50C, where 11.6% nickel over 4.6 metres, including 18.4% nickel over 2.2 metres was intersected in hole G50-22-005E. Drilling also intersected gold mineralization above and below the 50C trough and indicates the Beta Hunt gold mineralized system extends for over 3.5 kilometres of strike from the northern end of the A Zone (See Karora news release dated April 6, 2021). Follow up drilling is ongoing as part of a new dedicated nickel exploration unit established at Beta Hunt during the second quarter.
Paul Andre Huet, Chairman & CEO, commented: “Karora’s second quarter performance was very impressive with record gold production of 29,831 ounces, record gold sales of 30,412 ounces and AISC of US$996 per ounce sold. The strong second quarter production was driven primarily by strong grade performance across both operations and marked a 20% improvement over the prior seven quarters, which averaged approximately 25,000 ounces per quarter.
Our operations delivered an outstanding quarter despite difficult weather conditions towards the end of the period which have extended into the first part of the third quarter. The Kalgoorlie area has seen record rainfall which has challenged mining operations and ore haulage across the district. I am extremely proud of our team’s ability to prepare and adapt for these conditions, as we did when faced with multiple obstacles during 2020.
For the first six months of 2021 gold production was 54,524 ounces and AISC1 was US$1,020 per ounce sold, placing us in excellent position to achieve our full year 2021 gold production guidance of between 105,000 and 115,000 ounces and AISC1 of US$985-$1,085 per ounce sold.
Karora delivered another solid financial performance in the second quarter of 2021 with Adjusted EBITDA1 of $29.5 million or $0.20 per share, operating cash flow of $26.4 million or $0.18 per share and consolidated AISC1 of US$996 per ounce sold, US$53 per ounce lower than the prior quarter.
Net earnings of $5.4 million, or $0.04 per share, were impacted by an unrealized non-cash foreign exchange loss of $4.5 million, or $0.03 per share, and a non-cash derivatives loss of $2.9 million, or $0.02 per share, primarily related to intercompany loans and derivatives, respectively, which are subject to valuation changes due to quarter over quarter currency fluctuations. We reiterate that these are unrealized intercompany loans as we do not transfer cash out of the Australian business unit. Adjusted for these items among others, our Adjusted earnings1 were $14.3 million or $0.10 per share.
Overall, with Karora’s strong cash balance of $82.2 million at the end of the second quarter we are in a strong financial position to fully fund our recently announced organic growth plan. As with the first quarter, we continued to deploy capital into the preparatory work for this expanded production base during the second quarter with new equipment delivered to Beta Hunt and earthworks across Higginsville. Over the coming months, using the growth plan as a basis to provide additional financial flexibility, we also intend to refinance our existing $30 million debt facility to materially lower our interest costs."
- Non-IFRS: the definition and reconciliation of these measures are included in the Non-IFRS Measures section 17 of Karora’s MD&A dated August 9, 2021.
In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Karora’s protocols and contingency plans have mitigated impacts of the pandemic. Karora’s operations continued to be consistent with the Corporation’s full year 2021 guidance for the second quarter of 2021. Karora’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to prioritize the safety of its workforce and host communities while mitigating potential operational impacts.
Results of Operations
For the second quarter of 2021, Karora’s gold operations milled 345,000 tonnes of material at an average grade of 2.72 g/t to produce 29,831 ounces of gold. Tonnes milled were 7% lower than the first quarter due to a planned maintenance shut down and the impact of above average seasonal rains during the latter part of the second quarter. Lower tonnes milled were more than offset by higher gold milled grades which were 26% higher in the second quarter compared to the first quarter primarily due to higher stope grades mined at Beta Hunt.
The previously announced Phase I mill expansion is proceeding ahead of schedule. Once completed, the Phase I expansion will increase production capacity at our Higginsville mill by approximately 15%, or 550 tonnes per day, to 1.6 million tonnes per annum from the prior capacity. During the second quarter, the mill feed was made up of approximately 64% material from the Beta Hunt underground and 36% material from Higginsville Central open pit, which was in line with the prior quarter.
Production for the second quarter of 2021 was 221,000 tonnes milled at a grade of 3.35 g/t, a 5% decrease and 27% increase, respectively, compared to the first quarter of 2021.
Beta Hunt’s ongoing ramp up in production is a direct reflection of improved mining techniques and a staged fleet replacement and upgrade program. Two CAT R2900 underground loaders and two CAT AD60 trucks are planned for 2021. The first of these two new trucks recently hauled its first load of ore at Beta Hunt while both CAT R2900 loaders arrived in June 2021.
Nickel production is currently limited to remnant nickel resources south of the Alpha Fault. Recent drilling has identified a number of new areas including the 30C Nickel Trough where production can potentially be increased as well as the new Gamma Zone 50C discovery.
Higginsville (“HGO”) Central
HGO material milled during the second quarter of 2021 was 124,000 tonnes at a grade of 1.99 g/t, a 10% decrease and 27% increase, respectively, compared to the first quarter of 2021. The second quarter saw an increase in mined tonnes from Hidden Secret as two underground operations were prepared to come online in the second half of 2021.
At Hidden Secret, 156,700 tonnes were mined compared to 141,078 tonnes for the first quarter. Metallurgical recoveries were aligned with test work at 92-95%. At the nearby Mousehollow deposit, grade control work continued during the quarter which will provide Karora additional operational flexibility and mill feed optimization once mining of the pit commences.
Pre-production works for the Aquarius underground mine commenced in the second quarter of 2021 with the final box cut, portal establishment, and commencement of decline development expected in the third quarter of 2021. The box cut has been positioned to intersect supergene ore close to the surface, which will be mined as the box cut advances and will help offset overall development costs. Development of the decline will continue throughout the third and fourth quarter with initial level development ore expected late in the fourth quarter of 2021 and stope production starting shortly
thereafter. The Aquarius deposit remains open along strike and at depth with follow up drilling to be carried out from lateral underground development which will provide optimal drill bay locations.
Karora began mine re-entry works at the Two Boys underground in the second quarter of 2021 following dewatering of the historical operations. Rehabilitation will continue throughout the third quarter of 2021 in conjunction with development to access remnant and new ore blocks. A revised development and stope production plan is currently being updated to include recent face samples (5-10 g/t), surface drilling and re-mapping of historic workings. Drilling is also underway into surface mineralization adjacent to Two Boys which could extend into the upper levels of Two Boys underground, currently not considered in the mine plan.
Spargos Reward Gold Mine
Preparation of site infrastructure and mobilization of equipment at Spargos progressed well during the second quarter and pre-strip of the open pit commenced in June. Mining of lower grade ore in the first bench at Spargos is underway, with higher grades from the open pit anticipated to feed the HGO mill by mid fourth quarter.
On June 28, 2021, Karora announced its initial Spargos Mineral Resource. The new Mineral Resource presents a 15% increase in ounces and also a higher confidence basis from which to commence mining activities compared to the historic Corona Resources Mineral Resource estimate (Corona Resources news release “Resource Estimate Update for Spargos Reward Project Eastern Goldfields Western Australia’ dated on February 26, 2020”). The infill and resource definition drilling efforts completed by Karora as part of the new estimate, totaling 13,377 metres, were focused on delineating the near-term open pit mining opportunity now underway.
An extensive geological review completed by Karora exposed that little drill testing exists for underground mineralization below the 300mRL (150 metres below surface) outside of the Mineral Resource. The northern margin is constrained by just three historic holes (including two wedges). These holes are considered to have missed the high grade plunging shoot positions which remain open at depth down plunge. The southern margin of the Mineral Resource is limited by a single historic hole and is considered virtually untested. The northern and southern strike extensions of the Spargos Mineral Resource are also poorly tested by historic drilling and represent a significant underground growth opportunity. As such, the Mineral Resource remains open in both directions.
The next stage of exploration drilling will be focused on extending high grade gold mineralization outside the margins of the current Mineral Resource and at depth to further define the potential for a high grade underground operation at Spargos.
Cash Operating Costs and AISC1
For the second quarter, consolidated cash operating costs1 and AISC1 were US$874 and US$996 per ounce sold, respectively, which represents reductions of 8% and 5% compared to the first quarter of 2021, primarily due to higher ounces sold and productivity improvements. The second quarter cost performance is in line with full year 2021 AISC1 guidance range of US$985-$1,085 per ounce.
Karora is maintaining its previously announced full year consolidated 2021 production guidance of between 105,000 – 115,000 ounces of gold at an AISC1 range of US$985 to US$1,085 per ounce.
On June 28, 2021, the Corporation announced three-year consolidated production guidance as part of a multi-year growth plan that is expected to see gold production double from 99,249 ounces in 2020 to a range of 185,000 – 205,000 ounces in 2024, at an AISC1 of US$885 to US$985 per ounce sold. Table 3 below outlines production, cost and capital investment guidance for 2021-2024.
The growth plan will be driven by an expansion of Beta Hunt underground mine production to 2.0 Mtpa by 2024, from 0.8 Mtpa recorded in 2020. Increased production from Beta Hunt will be complemented by ore from HGO Central and Spargos. The increased tonnage will be processed by the Higginsville mill, which will be expanded to a capacity of 2.5 Mtpa by 2024 (Phase II). This Phase II expansion will follow the current Phase I expansion to 1.6 Mtpa from 1.4 Mtpa. Advanced internal study work and detailed engineering is progressing ahead of a formal construction decision by the Board of Directors.
Further details on the growth plan can be found in Karora’s news release dated June 28, 2021, and the second quarter MD&A.
Exploration and Resource Definition Drilling
Karora has identified multiple high priority exploration targets for 2021 as part of its significantly expanded A$20 million exploration budget across its +1,900 km2 land package.
At Beta Hunt, underground drilling continues to extend and upgrade both the Western Flanks and A Zone Mineral Resources. In addition, the gold drilling program is scheduled to test parallel mineralized zones to the Larkin Zone. June 2021 marked the commencement of a surface RC and diamond drilling program targeting the northern extensions of the A Zone and Western Flanks. A nickel drilling program has commenced and is supported by a newly expanded nickel exploration team that will be focused on extending both the 30C and 50C nickel troughs.
At Higginsville, stage 2 aircore infill drilling of the Lake Cowan Project area continued with 129 holes for 4,821 metres completed. Incoming results from the program will be evaluated with the aim of developing a follow-up drill program. Laboratory turn-around of samples remains a regional issue with a substantial back log across third party laboratories. Karora is mitigating the impact through the use of multiple laboratories within the region, including sending some samples to Perth for assays.
Exploration work at HGO for the remainder of the third quarter of 2021 includes interpreting and ranking the results from the approximate 36,000 metres of aircore drilling over Lake Cowan and evaluating the results and drill targets from a new geological and mineralization model completed over the highly prospective and underexplored Sleuth Trend. This work is being completed by CSA Global and is scheduled for completion in the third quarter.
Resource definition drilling re-commenced following completion of the Model Earth 3D geological model used to assist in targeting mineralized positions in the Higginsville Central area. Initial targets to be tested include extensions to the Two Boys, Aquarius and Spargos deposits. Currently, there are four drill rigs on site with a fifth rig scheduled to commence on site before the end of the third quarter.
Revenue for the second quarter of 2021 was $69.6 million, a 24% increase over the comparable period in 2020. The increase in revenue in 2021 was the result of a combination of higher gold ounces sold and higher realized prices which increased by 31% and 13%, respectively.
Adjusted net earnings for the second quarter were $14.3 million (or $0.10 per share), an $11.5 million improvement over the same period in 2020. Net earnings for the second quarter of 2021 were $5.4 million (or $0.04 per share) compared to net earnings of $9.8 million (or $0.07 per share) for the comparable period in 2020. Second quarter net earnings were negatively impacted by a non-cash unrealized foreign exchange loss of $4.5 million (or $0.03 per share) and a non-cash loss on derivatives of $2.9 million (or $0.02 per share) related to the valuation of the Morgan Stanley participation payment arrangement.
Adjusted EBITDA1 for the second quarter of 2021 was $29.5 million (or $0.20 per share) compared to $20.3 million (or $0.15 per share) in the second quarter of 2020.
Karora’s cash position increased to $82.2 million as at June 30, 2021, an increase of $5.5 million compared to March 31, 2021 and $2.5 million higher than December 31, 2020. Karora had a working capital surplus of $64.8 million as of June 30, 2021.
For a complete discussion of financial results, refer to Karora’s MD&A and unaudited condensed interim financial statements for the three and six months ended June 30, 2021 and 2020.
Conference Call / Webcast
Karora will be hosting a conference call and webcast today beginning at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern time). A copy of the accompanying presentation can be found on Karora’s website at www.karoraresources.com.
Live Conference Call and Webcast Access Information:
North American callers please dial: 1-888-664-6392
Local and international callers please dial: 647-764-8659
A live webcast of the call will be available through Cision’s website at:
A recording of the conference call will be available for replay through the webcast link, or for a one-week period beginning at approximately 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on August 9, 2021, through the following dial in numbers:
North American callers please dial: 1-888-390-0541; Pass Code: 855682
Local and international callers please dial: 416-764-8677; Pass Code: 855682
Compliance Statement (JORC 2012 and NI 43-101)
The disclosure of scientific and technical information contained in this news release has been reviewed and approved by Stephen Devlin, FAusIMM, Group Geologist, Karora Resources Inc., a Qualified Person for the purposes of NI 43-101.
About Karora Resources
Karora is focused on doubling gold production to 200,000 ounces by 2024 compared to 2020 and reducing costs at its integrated Beta Hunt Gold Mine and Higginsville Gold Operations ("HGO") in Western Australia. The Higginsville treatment facility is a low-cost 1.6 Mtpa processing plant, expanding to a planned 2.5 Mtpa by 2024, which is fed at capacity from Karora’s underground Beta Hunt mine and Higginsville mines. At Beta Hunt, a robust gold Mineral Resource and Reserve is hosted in multiple gold shears, with gold intersections along a 4 km strike length remaining open in multiple directions. HGO has a substantial Mineral gold Resource and Reserve and prospective land package totaling approximately 1,800 square kilometers. The Company also owns the high grade Spargos Reward project which is anticipated to begin mining in 2021. Karora has a strong Board and management team focused on delivering shareholder value and responsible mining, as demonstrated by Karora’s commitment to reducing emissions across its operations. Karora’s common shares trade on the TSX under the symbol KRR and also trade on the OTCQX market under the symbol KRRGF.
Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains "forward-looking information" including without limitation statements relating to the liquidity and capital resources of Karora, production guidance and the potential of the Beta Hunt Mine, Higginsville Gold Operation, the Aquarius Project and the Spargos Gold Project, the commencement of mining at the Spargos Gold Project and the completion of the resource estimate.
Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Karora to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Factors that could affect the outcome include, among others: future prices and the supply of metals; the results of drilling; inability to raise the money necessary to incur the expenditures required to retain and advance the properties; environmental liabilities (known and unknown); general business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties; results of exploration programs; accidents, labour disputes and other risks of the mining industry; political instability, terrorism, insurrection or war; or delays in obtaining governmental approvals, projected cash operating costs, failure to obtain regulatory or shareholder approvals. For a more detailed discussion of such risks and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, refer to Karora ‘s filings with Canadian securities regulators, including the most recent Annual Information Form, available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
Although Karora has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results to differ from those anticipated, estimated or intended. Forward-looking statements contained herein are made as of the date of this news release and Karora disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or results or otherwise, except as required by applicable securities laws.
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