New Gold Inc. (TSX and NYSE American: NGD) reports that production at both the Rainy River and New Afton mines declined in Q1 2020. The Company is also announcing that due to the rapidly changing and unpredictable environment caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Company is withdrawing its 2020 operational guidance until any impact is better understood.
During this unprecedented period, the health and safety of our workforce and Indigenous and other communities remains our number one concern. We will support all initiatives that align with that objective and will remain vigilant in providing a safe working environment for our workforce.
Consolidated First Quarter and Recent Highlights
- Total production for the first quarter was 103,435 gold equivalent (gold eq.) ounces (66,790 ounces of gold, 131,417 ounces of silver and 18.5 million pounds of copper).
- The Rainy River Mine produced 51,106 gold eq. ounces (50,381 ounces of gold and 61,265 ounces of silver) for the quarter, including 12 days of the temporary 14-day suspension of operations announced on March 20, 2020. Operations resumed on April 3, 2020 and will gradually be ramped up over the coming weeks. (refer to the Company’s April 3, 2020 news release for further information)
- The New Afton Mine produced 52,329 gold eq. ounces (16,409 ounces of gold and 18.5 million pounds of copper) for the quarter.
- The Company’s available liquidity has increased to approximately $600 million following the completion of a strategic partnership with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (“OTPP”) whereby OTPP has acquired a 46.0% free cash flow interest in the New Afton mine for proceeds of $300 million. (refer to the Company’s February 25 and March 31, 2020 news releases for further information)
- Given the rapidly changing and unpredictable environment caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Company is withdrawing its guidance for 2020.
- National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-101”) Technical Reports for the Rainy River and New Afton mines were filed on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) on March 27, 2020.
Consolidated First Quarter Operational Results
|Gold eq. production (ounces)1||103,435|
|Gold production (ounces)||66,790|
|Copper production (Mlbs)||18.5|
|Average realized gold price, per ounce2||1,458|
|Average realized copper price, per pound2||2.56|
|Total gold equivalent ounces include silver and copper produced (excluding production from the Cerro San Pedro Mine) converted to a gold equivalent based on a ratio of $1,500 per gold ounce, $17.75 per silver ounce and $2.85 per copper pound. Throughout the year the company will report gold equivalent ounces using a constant ratio of those prices. All copper is produced by the New Afton Mine.Refer to the “Non-GAAP Financial Performance Measures” section of this press release.|
“We are pleased to report New Gold’s operational results for the quarter, which are very encouraging when considering the 2-week suspension at Rainy River in the latter part of March as well as the enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols put in place at both operations. At the end of the quarter, we closed a strategic $300 million transaction with the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, which strengthens our balance sheet and provides additional financial flexibility and enhanced liquidity.” stated Renaud Adams, CEO. “Throughout this challenging time, New Gold will continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of our employees and local communities and we will continue to work with our Indigenous and community leaders to implement and coordinate actions to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19.”
Rainy River Mine Highlights
|Rainy River Mine||Q1 2020|
|Gold eq. production (ounces)1||51,106|
|Gold eq. sold (ounces)||53,538|
|Gold production (ounces)||50,381|
|Gold sold (ounces)||52,782|
|Average realized gold price, per ounce2||1,455|
|Gold equivalent ounces for Rainy River in Q1 2020 includes 61265 ounces of silver converted to a gold equivalent based on a ratio of $1,500 per gold ounce and $17.75 per silver ounce.Refer to the “Non-GAAP Financial Performance Measures” section of this press release.|
Rainy River Operating KPI’s
|Rainy River Mine||FY 2018||Q1 19||Q2 19||Q3 19||Q4 19||Q1 2020|
|Tonnes mined per day (ore and waste)||108,392||111,679||114,544||111,078||136,124||127,684|
|Ore tonnes mined per day||33,687||15,739||21,368||18,220||19,485||26,012|
|Operating waste tonnes per day||47,128||62,955||82,488||75,206||74,020||75,596|
|Capitalized waste tonnes per day||25,576||32,986||10,688||17,652||42,619||26,077|
|Total waste tonnes per day||74,705||95,941||93,176||92,858||116,639||101,673|
|Strip ratio (waste: ore)||2.22||6.10||4.36||5.10||5.99||3.91|
|Tonnes milled per calendar day||17,934||19,725||21,117||24,500||22,521||18,441|
|Gold grade milled (g/t)||1.25||1.19||1.15||1.14||0.85||1.03|
|Gold recovery (%)||86||90||93||91||91||90|
|Mill availability (%)||77||89||88||88||89||91|
|Gold production (oz)||227,284||61,557||66,013||75,080||51,122||50,381|
|Gold eq. production1 (oz)||230,349||62,278||66,765||76,092||51,915||51,106|
|Gold equivalent ounces for Rainy River in Q1 2020 includes 61,265 ounces of silver converted to a gold equivalent based on a ratio of $1,500 per gold ounce and $17.75 per silver ounce.|
- The Rainy River mine completed a temporary two-week shutdown from March 20 to April 2 that allowed the local workforce to follow a 14-day period of self-isolation relating to travel outside of Canada. On April 3, operations resumed with operations gradually ramping up over the coming weeks. (refer to the Company’s April 3, 2020 press release for further information)
- The mine is primarily utilizing its local workforce and will steadily ramp-up operations over the coming weeks as we continue to assess different scenarios to safely reintroduce the non-local workforce into the daily operations to enhance our drilling and maintenance capacity. The mine is currently averaging approximately 100,000 tonnes per day, which is approximately 70% of the productivity achieved in the first quarter prior to the shutdown.
- The mill facility is currently processing ore directly supplied by the open pit mine combined with ore from the medium grade stockpile and is operating at full capacity.
- For the first quarter, the mine reported gold eq. production of 51,106 ounces (50,381 ounces of gold and 61,265 ounces of silver), including 12-days of downtime related to the suspension of operations.
- During the quarter, approximately 2.4 million ore tonnes and 9.3 million waste tonnes (including 2.4 million capitalized waste tonnes) were mined from the open pit at an average strip ratio of 3.91:1. Prior to the suspension of operations, the open pit was mining an average of approximately 140,000 tonnes per day in the first quarter.
- Mill throughput for the quarter averaged 18,441 tonnes per day, including the 12-days of downtime related to the suspension of operations in the quarter, as well as completion of maintenance projects and adjustments related to the grinding circuit early in the quarter. Adjustments to the grinding circuit, including the commissioning of the pebble crusher, were required to process harder ore feed, which contributed to lower run rates in January. Mill productivity achieved first quarter target levels of 24,000 tonnes per day in February and early March (prior to the suspension).
- Mill availability for the quarter averaged 91%, excluding the 12-days of downtime, in-line with plan.
- Gold recovery averaged 90% for the quarter, slightly above planned levels.
- Exploration activities included exploration reconnaissance target definition and drill campaign planning, aimed to commence upon the receipt of the required permits.
New Afton Mine Operational Highlights
|New Afton Mine||Q1 2020|
|Gold eq. production (ounces) 1||52,329|
|Gold eq. sold (ounces)||50,398|
|Gold production (ounces)||16,409|
|Gold sold (ounces)||15,991|
|Copper production (Mlbs)||18.5|
|Copper sold (Mlbs)||17.7|
|Average realized gold price, per ounce2||1,464|
|Average realized copper price, per pound2||2.56|
|Gold equivalent ounces for New Afton in Q1 2020 includes 18.5 pounds of copper and 70,152 ounces of silver converted to a gold equivalent based on a ratio of $1,500 per gold ounce, $2.85 per copper pound and $17.75 per silver ounce.Refer to the “Non-GAAP Financial Performance Measures” section of this press release.|
New Afton Operating KPI’s
|New Afton Mine||FY 2018||Q1 19||Q2 19||Q3 19||Q4 19||Q1 2020|
|Tonnes mined per day (ore and waste)||16,156||15,824||16,357||15,773||14,539||16,727|
|Tonnes milled per calendar day||14,668||14,759||14,992||15,572||15,861||15,377|
|Gold grade milled (g/t)||0.53||0.50||0.53||0.43||0.42||0.45|
|Gold recovery (%)||85||83||83||80||79||81|
|Gold production (oz)||77,329||17,841||19,203||16,007||15,734||16,409|
|Copper grade milled (%)||0.87||0.80||0.86||0.76||0.70||0.73|
|Copper recovery (%)||83||83||83||84||81||82|
|Copper production (Mlbs)||85.1||19.5||21.6||20.1||18.3||18.5|
|Gold eq. production1 (oz)||279,755||60,986||65,791||52,807||49,507||52,329|
|Gold equivalent ounces for New Afton in Q1 2020 includes 18.5 pounds of copper and 70,152 ounces of silver converted to a gold equivalent based on a ratio of $1,500 per gold ounce, $2.85 per copper pound and $17.75 per silver ounce.|
- The mine produced 52,329 gold eq. ounces for the quarter (16,409 ounces of gold, and 18.5 million pounds of copper), gold production is above plan, while copper production is below plan.
- During the quarter, total development towards the B3 and C-zone advanced by approximately 1,231 metres, in-line with plan. B3 and C-zone development may be reduced in the coming weeks due to the implementation of COVID-19 protocols, which will temporarily impact productivity levels.
- The underground mine averaged 16,727 tonnes per day for the quarter, in-line with plan.
- The mill averaged 15,377 tonnes per day for the quarter, at an average gold and copper grade of 0.45 g/t gold and 0.73% copper, respectively, with copper grade lower than plan, at gold and copper recoveries of 81% and 82%, respectively. During the quarter, lower than planned copper grades were mined in a portion of the Lift 1 east cave, primarily due to higher than expected dilution rates that were encountered.
- Exploration activities in the quarter included underground delineation drilling on the East Extension zone and refinement of exploration targets for the planned drilling campaign within the Cherry Creek Trend area.
2020 Guidance and Financial Liquidity
The Company continues to assess the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on its 2020 production and cost structure during this unprecedented period. While operations continue at both mines, the Company believes it is prudent to temporarily withdraw our 2020 guidance as the global COVID-19 crisis continues to develop, particularly given the significant risk related to the potential for government laws, regulations or other measures that might be required that could impact our ability to operate, business disruptions in our supply chain, disruptions in the markets for our products, commodity prices generally as well as global health and economic impacts.
The Company has a strong liquidity position of approximately $600 million, which management feels is more than adequate to fund our business during this period. Additionally, as approximately 90-95% of our costs are denominated in Canadian dollars, the Company benefits from favourable Canadian / U.S. foreign exchange rates.
About New Gold Inc.
New Gold is a Canadian-focused intermediate gold mining company with a portfolio of two core producing assets in Canada, the Rainy River and New Afton Mines as well as the 100% owned Blackwater development project. The Company also operates the Cerro San Pedro Mine in Mexico (in reclamation). New Gold’s vision is to build a leading diversified intermediate gold company based in Canada that is committed to environment and social responsibility. For further information on the Company, visit www.newgold.com.