Edited Transcript of ELD.TO earnings conference call or presentation 21-Feb-20 4:30pm GMT – Yahoo Finance

Posted: February 24, 2020 at 5:43 am

VANCOUVER Feb 23, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Eldorado Gold Corp earnings conference call or presentation Friday, February 21, 2020 at 4:30:00pm GMT

* Tanya M. Jakusconek

Thank you for standing by. This is the conference operator. Welcome to the Eldorado Gold Corporation Fourth Quarter and 2019 Year-End Results Conference Call. (Operator Instructions)

I would now like to turn the conference over to Peter Lekich, Manager, Investor Relations. Go ahead, Mr. Lekich.

Thank you, operator, and thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for taking the time to dial into our conference call today. With me in Vancouver this morning are George Burns, President and CEO; Phil Yee, Executive Vice President and CFO; Joe Dick, Executive Vice President and COO; Paul Skayman, Special Adviser to the COO; and Jason Cho, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer.

Our release yesterday details our 2019 fourth quarter and year-end financial and operating results. This should be read in conjunction with our fourth quarter and year-end financial statements and management's discussion and analysis, both of which are available on our website. They have also been filed on SEDAR and EDGAR. All dollar figures discussed today are in U.S. dollars, unless otherwise stated. We will be speaking to the slides that accompany this webcast. You can download a copy of these slides from our website.

Before we begin, I would like to remind you that any projections included in our discussion today are likely to involve risks, which are detailed in our 2018 AIF and in the cautionary note on Slide 1. I will now turn the call over to George.

Thanks, Peter, and good morning, everyone. It's fantastic to see the response to our release this morning. Here is the format for today's call. I'll give an overview of the highlights along with some comments, then I'll pass it over to Phil to go through the financials. Paul will follow by reviewing operational performance, and Joe will say a few words on 2020 plans. Then we'll open it up for questions.

Before we get into things, I want to say a warm welcome to Joe, our new COO. Joe has been with us for a few months and has had the opportunity to spend some time at our sites. He joins us from Newmont, where he was SVP for Latin America. He also has experience with Barrick and Rio Tinto. Welcome, Joe.

Moving on to the highlights on the next slide. It was another solid quarter for -- both operationally and financially. We produced a record 118,955 ounces of gold, our highest quarterly production in nearly 4 years. This was a result of increased production at Lamaque and Kisladag. Consolidated annual gold production came in on plan, and we ended the year with over 395,000 ounces, our highest total production in 3 years. Cash operating cost remained steady.

Looking back, 2019 was a pivotal year in Eldorado's 25-year history. We put our first Canadian mine into commercial production, we restructured the balance sheet and reduced our total debt by USD 100 million, and we received long-awaited permits in Greece. On top of these accomplishments, our cornerstone asset, Kisladag, is now back on track. We are confident that the results of recent test support and extended mine life of 15 years.

I'm proud of the benefit that will come to local communities and the Greeks. Kisladag will once again provide long-term value for Eldorado stakeholders. Over to Greece, our team is working with ministry officials to advance our investment. To recap, we have received the Skouries construction permits that held us up since 2017.

However, an updated investment agreement and permits for dry stack tailings are essential for the advancement of the investment and restart of the project. The revised investment agreement would not only provide a stable platform irrespective of future governing parties, it would also help in demonstrating Greece's commitment to working with foreign investors in order to attract capital needed to grow its economy.

Just to remind everyone, we view Skouries as a world-class asset that will create approximately 1,000 well-paying jobs over its current 23-year mine life and generate significant tax and export revenues for the benefit of local communities and the Greek state. Before I hand it over, you may have noticed that our logo is slightly different throughout this presentation. This refreshed logo is reflective of the evolution of our business and the new path forward.

The new green color highlights the company's continuing commitment to put sustainability at the core of our business. As evidence of this, we are currently building a global sustainability management system that outlines the common set of performance standards by which we will operate. This will allow us to simplify our existing systems through harmonizing the way we do things. It will also improve efficiencies and consistencies across our business that will drive productivity. That's it for me. Over to you, Phil.


Philip Chow Yee, Eldorado Gold Corporation - Executive VP & CFO [4]


Thank you, George. Good morning, everyone. Starting on Slide 4, we provide an overview of Eldorado Gold's financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2019. Eldorado generated $191.9 million in total metal revenue in the fourth quarter. This includes $176.1 million in gold revenue and is an increase of 107% over the comparative quarter in 2018. The increase resulted from higher gold sales volumes of 118,900 ounces versus 58,860 in Q4 of 2018 and a higher realized average gold price in the fourth quarter of $1,475 an ounce versus $1,245 per ounce in Q4 of 2018.

For the full year 2019, Eldorado generated total metal revenue of $617.8 million, of which $530.9 million was gold revenue. This represents a 35% increase over 2018 and also resulted from higher gold sales volumes and a higher average gold price in 2019. Net earnings to shareholders in the fourth quarter was $91.2 million or $0.57 per share compared to a net loss to shareholders of $218.2 million or $1.38 loss per share in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Net earnings in the fourth quarter reflect an impairment reversal of $85.2 million or $68.2 million net of deferred tax for the Kisladag leach pad and related assets, reflecting the Kisladag mine life extension to 15 years. There was also an increase in depreciation in the fourth quarter, in line with increased sales volumes.

Net loss in the fourth quarter of 2018 included an impairment adjustment of $330.2 million or $247.7 million net of deferred tax, which is related to Olympias. For the full year of 2019, net earnings to shareholders was $80.6 million or $0.51 per share, reflecting essentially the same drivers as outlined for the fourth quarter. This represents a significant improvement over the full year 2018 net loss of $361.9 million or $2.28 loss per share.

Adjusted net earnings for the fourth quarter was $20.3 million or $0.13 per share, which was a significant improvement over the fourth quarter 2018 adjusted net loss of $18.9 million or $0.11 loss per share. In both periods, net earnings were adjusted primarily to remove the impairments and the impairment reversal.

For the full year 2019, adjusted net earnings were $5.6 million or $0.04 per share, adjusted to adjusted net loss of $28.6 million or $0.17 loss per share for 2018. The strong sales in the fourth quarter resulted in EBITDA of $158.7 million and adjusted EBITDA of $80.3 million, an improvement over the loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $327.9 million and adjusted EBITDA of $9 million in the fourth quarter of 2018.

For 2019, EBITDA amounted to $311.3 million, and adjusted EBITDA was $235.6 million. This is compared to a loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $361.8 million and adjusted EBITDA of $99.6 million for 2018. Again, adjustments were primarily the impairment items discussed earlier.

Fourth quarter also represented a third consecutive quarter of positive free cash flow after achieving commercial production at Lamaque at the end of March of 2019. Finance costs were $8 million in the fourth quarter and $45.3 million for the year compared to $5.6 million for the full year of 2018. The significant increase in 2019 over 2018 primarily reflects interest no longer capitalized, following the commencement of commercial operations at Lamaque in the second quarter of 2019 and the transfer of Skouries to care and maintenance at the end of 2018.

Income tax expense amounted to $39.8 million for 2019 compared to a tax recovery of $86.5 million in 2018. The tax expense in 2019 primarily relates to income tax on operations in Turkey and mining duties for Lamaque. Deferred tax recoveries in 2019, relating to fixed asset movements, currency movements and a corporate tax rate reduction in Greece were almost fully offset by a $17 million deferred tax expense as a result of the impairment reversal for Kisladag. The tax recovery in 2018 primarily resulted from the impairment charges in that year.

Depreciation and amortization increased to $153.1 million in 2019 from $105.7 million in 2018. Reflecting the increase in sales volumes in 2019 as well as the commencement of commercial operations at Lamaque during the year.

Eldorado reported $64.2 million in net cash generated from operating activities in the fourth quarter and $165.8 million for the full year 2019. This was also a significant increase from the fourth quarter of 2018 of $4.9 million and $67.5 million for the full year 2018. We finished the year with approximately $366 million in available liquidity. Of this, $181 million was in cash, cash equivalents and term deposits as at December 31, 2019, and approximately $185 million remained available under the $250 million revolving credit facility, which remains undrawn. Approximately $65 million of this facility is allocated to secure certain reclamation obligations in connection with our operations.

I will now turn it over to Paul for a recap of operations.


Paul James Skayman, Eldorado Gold Corporation - Special Advisor to the COO [5]


Thanks, Phil. I'd like to echo George's comments and welcome Joe onboard as well. Here's a quick summary of our quarterly and year-to-date operating results. As George mentioned, we produced 118,955 ounces of gold in the quarter, a cash operating cost of $621 per ounce sold. And all-in sustaining costs of $1,110 per ounce sold. This was more or less in line with expectations.

Similarly, production for the year was also in line with expectations. We produced 395,331 ounces at a cash cost of $608 per ounce, and an all-in sustaining cost of $1,034 per ounce. This was our highest total production rate in 3 years.

Looking forward, our 2020 production is expected to grow approximately 35%. Forecasting annual production of between 520,000 and 550,000 ounces of gold at cash cost of $550 to $600 per ounce and all-in sustaining cost of $850 to $950 per ounce in 2020. We expect lower all-in sustaining cost in 2019 actuals as production is expected to increase this year.

That's it for me, a short section this time around. Over to Joe.


Joseph Dennis Dick, Eldorado Gold Corporation - Executive VP & COO [6]


Thanks, Paul, and good morning, everyone. It's a pleasure to be part of the Eldorado team, especially at such an exciting time in our business.

I'm going to Slide 6, we'll get a look at our 5-year outlook. Full year production figures remain the same for 2020, as what you saw in January 2019. And as we've talked before, production will decrease in 2021 as we mine lower grade at Kisladag. What I want to highlight is our sustained annual gold production beyond 2020. This is a sizable improvement over what you saw last year. In addition to the mine life extension at Kisladag, we are forecasting a step-up in production at Lamaque to 150,000 ounces per year through accelerated development. This does require an expansion to the existing permit for triangle underground extraction rates. We are also forecasting an increase in production from Olympias, and we'll discuss that a bit further later in this call.

Post-2020, we are now forecasting an annual average of over 450,000 ounces of gold per year from our base operations, and our key development projects provide potential growth to this production profile.

Over to Kisladag on Slide 7. The headline at Kisladag is an average of 160,000 ounces of gold per year for 15 years. The project is self-funding and reestablishes Kisladag as a cornerstone of our company. As you may remember, the company announced in January 2019 that it would suspend work on the mill in favor of resuming mining, crushing and heap leaching. The company also announced that it would continue test work on deeper material at Kisladag to see how it responded to longer leach cycles with the aim of extending mine life.

Later in 2019, the company announced that given the test work to date, it did expect to extend the mine life at Kisladag.

Additionally, the company conducted a high-pressure grinding roll, or HPGR, test work on several bulk samples. These samples were then tested to see how they would perform under a 250-day leach cycle. The results of the test work indicate that a combination of HPGR and longer leach cycles will yield recoveries of approximately 56%. This test work now complete and coupled with extensive test work covering the remaining reserve, we have a comprehensive understanding of how the ore body will behave going forward.

As a result, we collectively are confident -- very confident in our new mine plan. A 43-101 compliant report confirming our new reserves of over 4 million ounces of gold will be published before the end of this quarter.

Looking at Slide 8. We have an outline showing the scale of the new pit booking to the north. The darker yellow is the existing pit mine to date, and the shaded yellow is the new reserve pit. This new pit contains 173 million tonnes of ore, resulting in a 15-year mine life.

Slide 9 takes us to Lamaque. Our guidance for Lamaque increases to approximately 150,000 ounces per year by 2022. We will achieve this by increasing our mining rates to roughly 2,200 tonnes per day, which is the current capacity of the Sigma Mill.

This expansion requires no incremental capital and it simply accelerates underground development. Eldorado will continue to study ways to optimize the triangle deposit. Initially, we will focus on the decline from triangle to the Sigma Mill. Following that, we will look at debottlenecking the mill and a long-term tailings solution to enable us to go beyond 2,200 tonnes per day.

With the recent discovery of the Ormaque zone and continued exploration success at Triangle, the company has deferred release of a PEA. We feel that incorporation of new information into the study will allow us to better scope the full potential of Lamaque.

On to Olympias at Slide 10. 2019 was disappointing. Olympias finished the year with lower production and higher costs than planned. However, we did establish a positive trend in the second half of the year by improving the underground development and backfill cycles. During 2020, we will continue to focus on development and include additional initiatives aimed at further enhancing our productivity. The guidance we have issued shows continued positive trend and shows we are expecting to achieve higher production at lower costs than 2019.

We expect continued progress beyond 2020, resulting in improved cost performance over time. We still have a ways to go at Olympias. But we are making progress, and we expect the necessary step change in productivities over the next 2 years. On that basis, our 5-year plan includes an expansion at Olympias to 650,000 tonnes per year. Further details on the expansion will be outlined in a technical study that will also be published by the end of this quarter. With that, I'll turn it back to George for closing remarks.


George Raymond Burns, Eldorado Gold Corporation - President, CEO & Director [7]


Thanks, Joe. Before wrapping up, I want to take a moment to thank our global teams for their collaboration and drive in 2019, particularly the Kisladag team for putting the mine back on track and Lamaque team for an excellent first year.

Together, we achieved multiple significant milestones, making it a pivotal year for Eldorado. I'm very proud that we delivered our highest annual production in 3 years, while maintaining steady operating costs. We expect this positive momentum to continue with 2020 production forecasted to grow to between 520,000 and 550,000 ounces. The expected increased cash flow will give us options to invest in our growth projects and pay down our debt. We will continue to put safety, sustainability and governance at the core of our business as we seek ever better ways to operate.

Thank you, everyone. I will now turn it over to the operator for questions.


Questions and Answers


Operator [1]


(Operator Instructions) The first question comes from Mike Parkin with National Bank.


Michael Parkin, National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division - Mining Analyst [2]


With the Olympias expansion study coming out, should we be looking for that largely to be the addition of the ball mill that you've spoken to in the past?


Paul James Skayman, Eldorado Gold Corporation - Special Advisor to the COO [3]


Yes, that's correct. There's some subtle changes elsewhere in the plant, but the major changes that addition of a ball mill.


Michael Parkin, National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division - Mining Analyst [4]


So are we still thinking on CapEx somewhere around like $20 million, $25 million?


Paul James Skayman, Eldorado Gold Corporation - Special Advisor to the COO [5]


Yes, a little bit more than that, Mike, but not significant.


Michael Parkin, National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division - Mining Analyst [6]


Okay. Where do you see OpEx per tonne on an overall basis, kind of trending as whatever percent drop from where it's kind of been or however you want to kind of communicate it with that expansion?


Joseph Dennis Dick, Eldorado Gold Corporation - Executive VP & COO [7]


I see that we've been looking in the plus 30% improvements in OpEx roughly and perhaps more.


Paul James Skayman, Eldorado Gold Corporation - Special Advisor to the COO [8]


I guess, you've got a double whammy. You're increasing your lead and zinc as well. So that makes a big difference to cash operating costs, yes.


Michael Parkin, National Bank Financial, Inc., Research Division - Mining Analyst [9]


Okay. And then with Kisladag, can you just give us an update on the fleet there? Is it owner operated? And if it is, what's the condition of it, now that you're looking at such a massive mine life extension there? Will there be a need to replace the fleet in the next few years?


Joseph Dennis Dick, Eldorado Gold Corporation - Executive VP & COO [10]


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Edited Transcript of ELD.TO earnings conference call or presentation 21-Feb-20 4:30pm GMT - Yahoo Finance

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