TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 06/10/13 -- McEwen Mining Inc. (NYSE: MUX)(TSX: MUX) announces a reduction to its forecasted production growth from 290,000 to 225,000 gold equivalent oz in 2016. Consequently, our capital requirements have been significantly reduced to a point that our cash reserves and cash flow from operations could be sufficient to fund the majority of our revised production growth.
How we have changed our production growth:
El Gallo 1 is being expanded for an estimated capex of $5 million with an expectation of producing 75,000 oz gold in 2016; we expect Gold Bar to be permitted in late 2014/early 2015, built in 2015 and up and running in 2016 at a rate of 50,000 oz gold per year; and our 49% owned San Jose contributing 100,000 oz gold equivalent for total Company production of 225,000 oz gold equivalent in 2016.
We have begun to re-evaluate El Gallo 2 as a heap leach operation rather than a conventional milling situation. Preliminary column testing results on ore recovery are encouraging and if further test work and bulk sampling are conclusive, then El Gallo 2 will be developed as a heap leach operation. The resultant capital cost reduction for El Gallo 2 would be considerable, from an estimated $180 million for a milling process, to $20-$30 million for a heap leach. The impact on IRR is dramatic because we would use less than 20% of the original capital to generate 60% of former forecasted production.
If the El Gallo 2 heap leach process works, then its projected production could add an additional 60,000 gold equivalent oz, and thus increase total Company production to 285,000 in 2016. This revised total production number would be very close to our original forecast of 290,000 oz in 2015. The metallurgical testing of El Gallo 2 ore should be completed by the 4th Quarter of this year and should coincide with the expected receipt of our permits to mine from the Mexican government.
As a result of our lower capital requirements, the rationale for selling Los Azules has effectively been eliminated. As a result, Los Azules has been removed from the sale process, which began in January. Los Azules is a significant copper deposit that we believe will command a better price in the future.
"Lower gold and silver prices have reduced our cash flow and the projected IRRs on our development projects and increased the cost of capital. As a consequence, we had to re-assess our development plans and look at alternatives to avoid excessive dilution at current market prices. Fortunately, we have developed alternatives that our cash reserves and cash flow from operations would allow us to develop and fund largely from internal sources with limited use of very expensive outside capital. Another very positive aspect of this alternative course is the potential for a significant increase in the IRR of El Gallo 2. Clearly, adversity is the mother of invention," said Rob McEwen, Chairman & Chief Owner.
About McEwen Mining (www.mcewenmining.com)
The goal of McEwen Mining is to qualify for inclusion in the S&P 500 by creating a profitable, mid-tier gold producer focused in the Americas. McEwen Mining's principal assets consist of the San Jose Mine in Santa Cruz, Argentina (49% interest); the El Gallo Complex in Sinaloa, Mexico; the Gold Bar Project in Nevada, US and the Los Azules Project in San Juan, Argentina.
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