Monsters of Rock: Another million gold miners post December numbers
We’re almost at the finish line of reporting season, where the positives have outweighed the negatives for most companies not in the Australian nickel and lithium space.
Except of course Nickel Industries (ASX:NIC), which is on an absolute tear today after pulling an Oprah with over $250 million of cash set to be thrown at shareholders in a new dividend and US$100 million share buyback.
More on that here.
Down the rungs of the sector there was plenty of news today as well.
Today’s list of reporters in the heavily stocked Aussie gold industry have given both good and bad, with a handful up and a couple on a down note.
Mark Clark’s Capricorn Metals (ASX:CMM) continues to shine, with another solid quarter at its Karlawinda gold mine placing it on the right track to hit FY24 guidance.
The project churned out 30,399oz for the quarter and 60,099 ounces for the half, with low second half all in sustaining costs of $1333/oz ($1315/oz in September), which puts the company on track to deliver to forecasts of 115,000-125,000oz at $1270-1370/oz in 2023-24.
Another $26.5m flew into the miner’s bank account even after dropping over $9.5m on exploration and feasibility studies at Karlawinda and Mt Gibson, the next development planned by the ASX 200 goldie.
That left the company with $160.1m in the bank as of December 31.
Joining Capricorn in investors’ good books today was Silver Lake Resources (ASX:SLR), which delivered 56,629oz of gold and 236t of copper at its Deflector and Mt Monger operations in WA.
That translated to sales of 57,360oz of gold at an AISC of $1868/oz and prices of $3025/oz, along with 239t of copper metal sales.
Deflector was as is often the case the standout, selling 33,099oz and 236t at $1449/oz. The Sugar Zone mine in Canada meanwhile remains on care and maintenance after high costs plagued the operation last year, with five rigs drilling over 27,000m to underpin a rewiring of the site.
SLR will maintain sales guidance of 210,000-230,000oz at $1850-2050/oz in FY24 including a $168/oz hit on treating stockpiles at Mt Monger, with cash and bullion on hand of $284.1m and $143.5m in listed investments (largely its stake in Red 5 (ASX:RED)) after generating $44.9m in underlying free cash flow.
Also escaping the wrath of the market was Aurelia Metals (ASX:AMI), which ran higher despite revealing it would reduce copper guidance for its Peak and Dargues mines in New South Wales from 2800-3100t to 2000-2300t for FY24.
Its gold, lead and zinc guidance remains unchanged at 60-65,000oz, 19-22,000t and 17,500-20,000t respectively, with all in sustaining costs still expected to be in the range of $1850-2050/oz.
Aurelia, which was forced into a change of strategy in 2022 after investors protested plans for a dilutive cap raise to finance its new Federation development, delivered 14,900oz of gold, 400t copper, 4000t lead and 3300t zinc in the December quarter at $2081/oz.
A 35% fall in gold output at Peak, where the access of high grade stopes was delayed, was offset by a 14% lift in gold production and complementary 27% fall in costs at Dargues.
Dargues is nearing the end of its commercial life, but AMI anticipates mining its first stope at Federation in the September quarter though wet weather will impact decline development this quarter.
On the other side of the coin Aeris Resources (ASX:AIS) remains in the doghouse after a torturous 2023, which saw it revoke EBITDA guidance and shut the Jaguar mine in WA.
The copper and gold producer said it rolled out 9700t of copper equivalent production in the three months to December 31 at costs of $5.40/lb.
But at its mainstay Tritton mine in NSW, Aeris saw skilled labour and mining equipment shortages hit production and the ramp up of its Avoca Tank orebody despite saying it had kept a lid on operating costs.
Tritton produced 4800t of copper, 1200oz gold and 39,200oz of silver in the December quarter, on track for the lower end of its 19-24,000t guidance range after producing 10,000t of the red metal in the first half of the year.
All in sustaining costs at Tritton were down from $5.68/t to $5.37/t QoQ.
Copper output fell from 2400t to 1600t at the Mt Colin mine at AISC of $5.38/t in North Queensland due to a delayed processing run, with offtaker Glencore delivering partial payments now to ensure Mt Colin has working capital.
Meanwhile the Cracow gold mine remains on track to hit its guidance of 38-48,000oz in FY24, after producing 11,100oz at $2407/oz in the December quarter and 23,900oz at $2402/oz for the half.
Down in the dumps today despite a seemingly strong set of numbers was Emerald Resources (ASX:EMR), though after a 46% lift in the past six months the $2 billion capped Cambodian producer may have been due a breather.
It produced 29,200oz at an all in sustaining cost of US$799/oz, towards the upper end of its 25,000-30,000oz guidance range.
That turned into sales of 30,400oz at an average price of US$1983/oz, putting the company on track to hit its full year guidance of 100,000-120,000oz at US$780-850/oz.
EMR saw operating cash flows for the quarter at Okvau of $56.7m, bolstering its cash and bullion on hand to $137.8m.
“We are pleased with the operational performance of the Okvau Gold Mine, which resulted in another impressive Quarter in the upper end of production guidance with 29,184 ounces of gold produced. The operational performance at the Okvau Gold Mine has generated US$38.8m in operating cash flows for the Quarter which continues to underpin the Company’s ability to advance its growth opportunities with the aim of becoming a multi mine, diversified gold mining company,” MD Morgan Hart said.
“This Quarter also saw the completion of the maiden Memot Gold Project resource statement. The Stage 1 resource at Memot has given Emerald the confidence to ramp up drilling activities commencing early 2024 with the view to increasing resources and positioning the project for development in 2025.
“With the strong performance and potential of the Okvau Gold Mine along with our continued exploration success at Memot in Cambodia and North Laverton Gold Project in Western Australia, we are on track to increase our resources and reserves in FY24.”
Emerald owns around 78% of North Laverton’s public unlisted owner Bullseye Mining but has faced opposition from minorities to plans for a full takeover.