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Argonaut Gold survived a Challenging 2022

Feb 27, 2023

Argonaut Gold Inc. announced today its operating and financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2022. All dollar amounts are expressed in United States dollars, unless otherwise specified (CA$ refers to Canadian dollars).

Argonaut Gold achieved it’s 2022 annual guidance for gold equivalent ounce production,
by producing 203,155 GEOs and selling 207,158 GEOs, that’s a 17% decline, but a 5% increase in average realized gold price per ounce to $1,877.

Argonaut experienced an 11% decrease in revenue to $388.3 million as a result of lower gold ounces sold. On a per ounce sold basis, cash cost  and all-in sustaining cost ("AISC") were higher due to inventory write-downs, lower year-over-year production, and higher costs.

Argonaut reported it had generated cash flow from operating activities before changes in non-cash operating working capital and other items totaling $70.6 million was a reduction of 43% due to lower sales and higher costs. It experienced a $135.5 million non-cash impairment of mineral properties, plant and equipment, largely due to the inflationary pressures on the company's low-grade heap leach operations combined with land access and permitting issues at two of its Mexican mines, San Agustin and La Colorada.

"Last year was a challenging year for the Company on two fronts. First, the increase in construction costs at the Magino project required a large capital raise, including debt, equity and the sale of a royalty. Second, the inflationary pressures had a significant impact on operating results of our low-grade heap leach operations, resulting in an impairment of our Mexican assets and Florida Canyon mine," stated David Ponczoch, Chief Financial Officer.

Argonaut also had a $22.9 million non-cash write-downs of inventories to net realizable values for a net loss of $152.2 million compared to net income of $26.5 million; adjusted net loss1 of $22.4 million compared to adjusted net income1 of $57.1 million; and Cash and cash equivalents of $73.3 million.

"As part of the Company's effort to focus on prioritizing core assets, we have sold and optioned two non-core Mexican assets and revised mine plans of our three operating mines in Mexico to focus on free cash flow generation.  As a result, we suspended mining activities at our El Castillo mine at the end of last year and we expect mining activities at San Agustin and La Colorada will temporarily pause by the end of this year, until land access and permits are received to complete mining of the remaining reserves and resources," stated Marc Leduc, Chief Operating Officer.

"Looking ahead, management is laser focused on completing the Magino project, with first pour planned for mid-May followed by commercial production in the third quarter. The commissioning of Magino will be the first step in transforming the Company as it enters a pivotal growth stage. We believe Magino has the potential to be one of the 10 largest and lowest cost gold mines in Canada, combining a large open pit operation with the potential of higher-grade underground material to feed an expandable mill. In addition, management will be focused on exploring the large sulfide resource at Florida Canyon, located just below the oxide deposits," said Richard Young, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Argonaut gold’s undrawn debt capacity at year end stands at $170 million.

Quarter ended December 31, 2022 compared to quarter ended December 31, 2021

In fourth quarter 2022, Argonaut produced 42,510 GEOs, a 31% decline and sales of 51,615 GEOs, a 9% decline, accompanied by a 3% increase in average realized gold price per ounce to $1,860.

Revenues decreased by 7% to $95.9 million due to lower gold ounces sold partially offset by higher average realized gold price per ounce.

On a per ounce basis, cash cost and AISC were higher due to the write-down of inventories to net realizable value at four mines. Additionally, lower production and inflationary pressures increased operating costs.

Management Changes

The Company is pleased to announce two new appointments to its senior leadership team: David Savarie, Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, and Nancy Lee, Vice President, Human Resources. Mr. Savarie brings over 20 years of professional experience to the Company, the last 15 of which have been exclusively within mining. Ms. Lee brings more than 25 years of experience to the Company, the last 10 of which have been exclusively within mining.

The Company sold more ounces than it produced in the fourth quarter 2022 due to timing of gold sales. Ounces remaining in finished goods inventory at the end of the third quarter were sold in October 2022. The average realized gold price was $1,860 per gold ounce in fourth quarter 2022 as compared with the average price of $1,799 for the prior year period. This higher price was realized by delivering into the gold forward pricing contracts for the quarter and into future forward contracts. 

Magino Project Update

By the end of 2022, the Company had incurred approximately $583 million on Magino construction, and estimated the project was 80% complete.

The Magino project's estimated EAC was increased from $730 million (CA$920 million) to $755 million (CA$980 million). The increase in costs were largely attributed to: (i) an anticipated 45-day delay to first pour, which results in higher capitalized overheads; (ii) higher earthworks costs related to higher fuel prices and scope changes; (iii) higher power costs; and iv) changes to reduce risks in the mine plan, partially offset by the weakening of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar. 

Those activities under the Company's scope include earthworks, on-site infrastructure, and site power, and are all proceeding on schedule for completion in time for the anticipated first pour in mid-May 2023. Ausenco Engineering Canada Inc., the engineering firm contracted by the Company to complete the mineral processing plant and related infrastructure, is on schedule for the same timing as well. The site team is in the process of ramping up the operations team for full operations. Ore mining commenced ahead of schedule in January 2023 to allow for the buildup of an ore stockpile to de-risk operations. The commissioning team is arriving on site and the site team is focused on operations readiness.

Ramp up to commercial production is expected to take three months following first pour in mid-May 2023, thereby placing the project on schedule for commercial production, estimated in the third quarter 2023.

2022 Guidance (Amended) vs 2022 Actual and 2023 Guidance

Argonaut achieved its 2022 guidance for GEO production. The Company exceeded 2022 cost guidance for cash cost1 and AISC1 per gold ounce sold due to write-downs of inventories to net realizable values at El Castillo, Florida Canyon, San Agustin, and La Colorada, which increased cash cost1 and AISC1 by $114 per ounce. The higher cost per ounce guidance for 2023 reflects the higher non-cash amortization of inventories at the Company's three Mexican mines. The 2023 per ounce cost guidance for Magino is largely in line with the last technical report issued. As Magino ramps up production and becomes the Company's largest producing mine, the Company expects overall AISC per ounce of gold to decline.

About Argonaut Gold

Argonaut Gold Inc. is a Canadian gold company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and engaged in exploration, mine development and production.  The Company is in the final stages of construction of the Magino mine, located in Ontario, Canada. The Company also has three operating mines including the Florida Canyon mine in Nevada, USA, the San Agustin mine in Durango, Mexico, and the La Colorada mine in Sonora, Mexico. In Q4 2022, the El Castillo mine ceased mining operations and is now in residual leaching. In addition, the Company holds the advanced exploration stage Cerro del Gallo project and several other exploration stage projects, all of which are located in North America. On July 1, 2020, the Company completed the acquisition of Alio Gold Inc. which held the Florida Canyon mine and Ana Paula project.

For more information, contact:     

Argonaut Gold Inc.
Joanna Longo
Investor Relations
Phone:  416-575-6965
Email: info@argonautgold.com 

Image Aerial view of Magino Mine Site

Tags: Northern Ontario / Operational Updates / Gold / All Articles