2012 Brazilian Gold Production B&A Mineraçao’s Acquisition of Rio Verde Q&A: John Blake, Luna Gold Exploration News
BRAZIL EXPLORATION BRIEFING
Vol 2 • April 2013
HIGHS & LOWS Brazilian producers saw stagnant production in 2012, after a spike in gold prices led to a production bonanza in 2011. Brazil is now depending on newly producing mines to hold up annual production results as output drops. It seems explorers aren’t the only firms struggling in the current gold space. Producers are also looking for answers. Brazil’s production numbers in 2012 underscore a hostile market, as year-end results revealed waning production and rising costs across the country. Cash costs per ounce inflated markedly, increasing an average of 16% from 2011 to 2012 across Brazil’s five largest mines, according to Mining Leaders research. That spike led to a $499 increase in cost-per-ounce production at the five operations, where soaring extraction costs have stifled new development. Gold production stagnated at Brazil’s 11 largest mines, showing 0% growth on the year, and falling slightly from 1.547Moz to 1.53Moz. Brazil’s lackluster results can largely be laid on falling production at Jaguar Mining’s Paciência and Turmalina mines. The two projects’ output fell 75% and 38%, respectively, due to long-term shutdowns starting in May 2012. In a press release, Jaguar attributed the delays to maintenance and the implementation of new mining methods: “2012 was a challenging year for Jaguar and these results reflect the magnitude of the challenges,” said Jaguar President and CEO David Petroff after the release. Of Brazil’s top 11 producing mines, five saw falling production, and two showed no noteworthy increase.* Production at AngloGold Ashanti’s Serra Grande mine also * Mining Leaders assumed 2012 production at Sossego to be equal to 2011 figures, as current results had not yet been released at time of publication.
Yamana’s Jacobina project produced 116,000oz in 2012 trended down, dropping 26% on the year. The mine, which consists of three underground mines (Mina III, Mina Nova, and Mina Palmeiras) as well as an open-pit section, had produced 3.4Moz as of mid-2012 and produced 133,166oz in 2011. According to AngloGold’s midyear projections, the firm had expected higher production—a total of 540,000oz from its Brazil operations. Instead it extracted 486,000oz. In May 2012, AngloGold initiated a takeover of Serra Grande, worth $220 million, from
Cash costs per ounce inflated markedly, increasing an average of 16% from 2011 to 2012 across Brazil’s five largest mines
Kinross, who also had a trying year. Kinross sold the remaining 50% of the project following a $2.5 billion write-down in February that saw its share price drop nearly $2.00 in two weeks. The buyout mirrored a global flood of divestiture deals in 2012, as major companies continue to shed assets and remain solvent. Kinross then weathered a significant drop in its production results across all operations, which fell 6% in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the year prior. Costs on the rise Meanwhile, cash costs per ounce at Serra Grande, Brazil’s fifth largest mine, increased 6% to $816 in 2012, making it Brazil’s second most expensive operation to run. AngloGold’s flagship AGA Mineração project saw the largest increase in cash costs per ounce, rising 33% from 2011 to $696. Kinross’s Paracatu mine, Brazil’s largest, was the costliest at $881
BRAZIL EXPLORATION BRIEFING Vol 2 • April 2013
The Kinross buyout mirrored a global flood of divestiture deals in 2012, as major companies continue to shed assets in order to remain solvent per ounce. Production increased at Paracatu, albeit marginally, by 3%.
2012 growth in Brazil’s cash costs per ounce
The trend in Brazil is no different from production figures in other parts of the world. While Brazil’s gold mines generally achieve lower production costs than mines elsewhere—like large-scale African mines for example—there is concern that the current gold price simply doesn’t match up with global production forecasts. Many analysts pin that on a surging gold price in the summer of 2011 up to $1,900, which caused skyrocketing global supply. Since then gold miners have struggled to operate under inflating costs while production settles back to normal levels. Some analysts believe 2012 offers an early glimpse at continuing production shortages. Too few large-scale discoveries have been made to keep production at its current level (a trend that looks unlikely to change as many explorers also put projects on hold). National Bank Financial, a Toronto-based firm, recently stated a “production cliff” could vastly decrease production in 2017, causing investors to flock to low-capex projects and stifle overall production. Some argue that such investment fallout is almost necessary to bring margins in line.
Gold’s Chapada mine in Goiás state, which posted the country’s lowest rate of inflation (4%) in 2011. Production at Yamana fell 5% in 2012, and is expected to fall further in 2013 from 128,000oz to 105,000– 115,000oz. In 2014 Yamana expects its overall output to pick up again as its Suruca and Corpo Sul mines come online.
Forward, always forward Regardless, a number of Brazilian mines have managed to keep costs well below the industry average. With production costs at $333 per ounce, the highest-margin gold mine within the top five was easily Yamana
Jacobina, Yamana’s second project (pictured), saw a decrease of 4% in production but is expected to ramp up in 2013 to 125,000oz from 116,000oz. The company focused on increasing its reserve base in 2012 and managed to boost it 21% to 2.1Moz measured and indicated.
Brazil gold production comparison 2011-2012 COMPANY
2011 Prod (oz)
2012 Prod (oz)
Prod Change (%)
By far the largest growth in 2012 was at Luna Gold’s Aurizona project, located in the state of Maranhão. In 2012 the company increased production 77% to 74,000oz, and reduced its average cost per ounce by roughly $300. Without this boost from Luna Gold, overall production at Brazil’s top 11 mines would have dropped fully 12%. Aurizona, with a measured and indicated resource of 78Mt at an average 1.26g/t Au, is expected to process 100,000oz in 2013 and 125,000oz in 2014 from its nearby plant. But although the majority of producing mines in Brazil have seen stagnant or negative production in 2012, one project in the north could restart output growth in 2013. Beadell Resources Ltd. expects to dig up 200,000oz of gold in 2013 from its Tucano mine in Amapá, which would make it the third largest mine in Brazil. Data gathered by Bloomberg predicts its cost-per-ounce ratio will be 32% below the global average; these high margins were attributed to low taxes and cheap labor at the site. In coming years, Brazil will depend on young projects like Tucano coming online to keep production growing. The current leading producers can’t seem to hold the pace.
BRAZIL EXPLORATION BRIEFING Vol 2 • April 2013
DASH TO POTASH
With its acquisition of Rio Verde, B&A Mineração announces itself as a new player in Brazilian fertilizers On March 19, Toronto-based junior Rio Verde Minerals announced that it had been acquired by B&A Mineração. The Brazilian firm had held 29% in Rio Verde and purchased the remaining shares for $34.5 million. Established in July 2012 by Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual and former Vale CEO Roger Agnelli, B&A has over half a billion dollars to invest in mining projects and the ambitions to match. During his ten years at Vale, Agnelli sought to expand the Brazilian giant’s global footprint; many believe his eventual removal from the post stemmed from his incompatability with the states’s wish for a more Brazil-focused Vale.
His new role does not seem bound by nationalist limitations. In addition to the Rio Verde takeover, B&A Mineração has a partnership to develop a Chilean copper project with Cuprum Resources and in December 2012 was named as the preferred bidder for BHP Billiton’s stake in the Mount Nimba project in Guinea, at an estimated cost of $500 million. Since its inception, Agnelli has insisted that B&A ‘is not being born to be small.’ Eduardo Ledsham, the firm’s executive director and another Vale alumnus, has said that Peru, Colombia and Argentina are medium-term targets.
Brazil Potash Consumption
Given its global vision, it is significant that B&A Mineração’s first Brazilian acquisition is a fertilizer project. With Brazilian agribusiness booming and the vast majority of the country’s potash and phosphate imported, many mining firms are looking to develop projects in-country, undercutting the major Canadian and Russian producers on transport costs. In 2012 Brazil consumed a record 8.1 million tons of potash, a 9.3% increase from 2011. In an effort to boost domestic fertilizer production, the Brazilian state has introduced incentives including reduced royalty rates to stimulate exploration and development of potash and phosphate projects. At present Vale operates Brazil’s only potash mine in the northeastern state of Sergipe. Rio Verde’s potash project is located nearby. Having completed initial drilling and seismic studies, the firm has targeted an NI 43101–compliant resource estimate by July 2013. The firm also has a wide portfolio of phosphate targets, of which its Bonito project, in the state of Pará, is scheduled to enter production in 2013.
BRAZIL EXPLORATION BRIEFING Vol 2 • April 2013
A Quick Turnaround You came to the company as CEO in September 2010, just as Luna Gold began production at the Aurizona mine. What was your original take on the project? I really liked the geology in the northeast of Brazil. It’s a orogenic greenstone shearhosted deposit, with plenty of room to grow in the area. The project was struggling when I came onboard, so I pulled together a new team—a team that has since turned the project around. Our vice president now handles most aspects of the technical operations at Aurizona. Since 2010 you’ve reduced your production costs from $1,031 to $734 per ounce. How were you able to achieve those cost cuts?
points in the mill improved both our output tons and our recoveries. When we started out we had low recovery rates of about 78%, which we increased to 90%. These improving recoveries have proved a great advantage as well. You’re now entering a prefeasibility study that will boost your ounces at the plant significantly. How will you reach your targets? We were fortunate to have an existing plant with a great deal of excess milling capacity upfront. In Phase 1 we took advantage of this extra crushing power, and added more retention time in the CIL [carbon-inleach] portion of the plant, where we target increasing production from 74,000oz last year to 125,000oz in 2014. This year
We’re in the northern tip of Brazil and employ many fly-in, fly-out professionals. It is therefore in our best interest to spread those fixed costs over more ounces of gold; the secret to our cost reduction is that we’ve managed to do just that We’re in the northern tip of Brazil and employ many fly-in, fly-out professionals. It is therefore in our best interest to spread those fixed costs over more ounces of gold; the secret to our cost reduction is that we’ve managed to do just that. But the economizing includes other components as well: as we started processing more ore in our plant, we came to know it better, and due to a series of de-bottlenecking strategies we were able to identify areas that slowed production. How did you go about removing the bottlenecks at the plant? As an example, the original plant was built with six-inch steel piping, and we had some calcification occurring in those pipes. The buildup had restricted the flow, so one by one we went about replacing those pipes with eight-inch HDPE material that doesn’t calcify. Identifying those choking
John Blake President & CEO Luna Gold
we’re completing the required production to get us there. In Phase 2, after we complete the prefeasibility study in the fourth quarter of 2013, we will identify ways to increase production one level further, to between 200,000oz and 300,000oz per year. Your Aurizona mine was by far Brazil’s fastest-growing in 2012, with production up 77%. Yet output slowed at many other mines across the country. Is Brazil depending too heavily on newly producing mines like Aurizona? I can’t speak for mines in other locations in Brazil, but we’ve been very fortunate to have what I believe to be great geological asset. We started at Aurizona with a resource of 1.3Moz and a reserve of 730,000oz. Since 2010, through some leading exploration techniques and a talented team on-site, we’ve increased that resource to 4.6Moz in the measured and indicated category. By
mid-April 2013 we will report an increase in our reserve. Having those ounces has given us the planning capability needed to transfer our resource into production. That’s the unique advantage we have here at the Aurizona project; however, there are many new projects coming online that should prop up production overall. Has the government of supported your operations?
The Brazilian government has proven a really good partner in our business. When the company first started production, the government delivered a power line of (approximately) 50-kilometers and 69kV to our mine site in very little time. They’ve built a new access road, and have also given us what’s called a Sudene tax consideration, quite an agreeable corporate tax benefit. We are the first precious metals mine in Maranhão state, and the government has been excellent to work with as a result. In return we employ local people at Aurizona (roughly 730), making our project a win-win situation for both parties.
BRAZIL EXPLORATION BRIEFING Vol 2 • April 2013
Orinoco Gold Ltd. (ASX: OGX) identified an additional high-grade gold anomaly within the Faina Greenstone Belt in central Brazil. The promising first-pass results of the Eliseo prospect, located 25km northwest of the the company’s flagship Cascavel target within its 70%-owned Curral de Pedra project in Goiás state, identified a gold-bearing structure over an area of 1,600m x 620m with the three identified mineralized zones ranging in width from 4—25m. 24 rock chip samples returned gold grades ranging from 0.7 to 22.8gpt. Two additional scout holes unexpectedly returned visible gold in 0.5m sections of ore where the angled holes intercepted the mineralized unit at 58m down hole.
from Tetra Tech, one of the world’s leading mining consulting companies, is a milestone for the Company. We are currently reviewing all options to fully exploit the potential of the asset, including the possibility of developing multiple pits in addition to further exploration of the surrounding areas. The current drill spacing is approximately 60m, therefore the Company will embark on further tighter drilling with minimal cost to upgrade much of the inferred resource to the indicated resource category.” In addition to capped and uncapped gold grades, the number of drill holes and composites used for each estimated value was recorded as well as the mean distance of those composites from the Brazil Resources Inc. (TSX-V: BRI) published centroid of the block. results of a recently completed NI 43-101 resource estimate, completed by Tetra Luna Gold Corp (TSX: LGC) announced Tech, on the company’s Cachoeira do results of a recently completed independent Piriá gold project in Pará state, Brazil, that mineral resource estimate at the company’s included indicated resources of 786,737oz Aurizona gold mine in Brazil that included Au contained in 17.4Mt @ 1.40 g/t Au indicated resources of 3.63Moz contained in and inferred resources of 628,035oz Au 82Mt @ 1.3g/t Au and inferred resources of contained in 15.7Mt @ 1.12g/t Au using 1.04Moz Au contained in 18.5Mt @ 1.74g/t a cutoff of 0.35g/t Au. The new estimate Au using a cutoff of 0.3g/t Au. This updated represents increases of 77% and 184% mineral resource estimate includes 6,933m of in the indicated and inferred categories, additional drilling at the Piaba deposit, and respectively, over the December 2010 figures 7,438m at the Boa Esperança, Ferradura, from Roscoe Postle Associates Inc. According and Conceição deposits throughout 2012, to Stephen Swatton, President and CEO of as well as a pit-optimization program at Brazil Resources Inc., “This resource estimate the Tatajuba deposit. 14 new diamond
holes were included in the updated Tatajuba deposit, six completed specifically to extend the depth of the Piaba mineralized structure beneath the limit of the 2011 resource estimate and identify high-grade gold targets at depth in the system. The most significant intersection that occurred was 13m @ 4.89 g/t Au, including 1.50m @ 25.10 g/t Au and 0.50m @ 10.45 g/t Au. Cleveland Mining Company Ltd. (ASX: CDG) has commenced its drilling program at its Premier gold project in the Crixás Hub, Goiás state, central Brazil. Multiple drilling programs include strategic downdip extension diamond drilling, near-surface strike extension, and resource definition drilling. Out of a planned 600m, 160m has already been completed—the first hole of the eight-hole program is located 3.5km north of the historic Premier pit. In the company’s statement Cleveland Mining announced the aim for this program is to define the downdip extension of the structure hosted by the Premier mineralization. At the Premier mine the diamond drilling program aims to infill the current resource and define the nearsurface eastern and western extensions of the mineralized structure; initial assay results are pending. For Premier South, the exploration and research of the soil anomaly has commenced 1km south of the Premier pit.
Magellan Minerals Ltd. (TSX-V: MNM) announced the commencement of drilling at its Coringa project located in Pará state, southern Brazil. As part of the Coringa project feasibility study, the drill program will aim to upgrade existing resources at the Serra, Como Quieto, and Mae de Leite zones to expand the overall resource estimate. An initial 2500m is targeted for the beginning of the program with plans to expand to 5000m for a total of 16 holes. Early results are expected for Q2 2013. Golden Gate Mining announced the confirmation of anomalies at its Goldfish Americano target following a magnetometry report. The Almas project is located in an area known for artisanal mining and lies adjacent to Rio Novo’s Almas project on the Archean greenstone belt. Carpathian Gold (CPN: CN) confirmed its Riacho dos Machados gold project remains on course to enter production in Q2 of 2013. It will mine 7,000 tons per day at an annualized rate of 100,000oz Au for up to eight years. The project is located in the state of Minas Gerais and as of late February was 70% complete. Carpathian was trading at $0.30 a share with a market cap of $166.6 million, with 555.4 million shares outstanding. The 52-week high and low were $0.55 and $0.24, respectively. Esperance Minerals (ASX: ESM) is advancing due-diligence drilling on exploration licenses covering 50,000 hectares of gold in Brazil. Earlier this year the company signed an options agreement to acquire Afro-Asian Resources, which is entitled to acquire 100% interest on the project owned by Minaraz Mineracão Participacões. The first borehole was drilled to 53.66m, twinning the third hole from a series of 7 stratigraphic holes. The second borehole reached a depth of 65.05m and was designed to twin the fourth hole of the 7 stratigraphic holes. The third hole has been drilled to 60m. The exploration license includes 15,000 additional hectares of applications for exploration licenses in Amazonas state. Esperance Minerals held $1.12 million in cash at the end of Q4 2012.
CORPORATE NEWS Aura Minerals Inc. (TSX: ORX) announced that as of December 31, 2012, gold production was 8% higher than the prior year. A major factor in improved production was the construction of a higher plant feed at the São Francisco project, which saw Q4 2012 gold production 67% higher than Q4 2011. Copper production at the Aranzazu plant also increased from 7,695,300lbs in 2011 to 10,980,100lbs, marking a 43% increase. However, share prices dropped $0.25 in 2012, reducing company value by $56.8 million compared to 2011, where share prices dropped $0.19, reducing company value by $41.8 million. The company’s end of year 2012 revolving credit facility maturity was extended to June 2014, increasing available credit to $45 million.
BRAZIL EXPLORATION BRIEFING Vol 2 • April 2013
CORPORATE NEWS Beadell Resources (BDR:ASX) secured A$25 million in funding through an international placement to continue the development of its Tucano gold project in Brazil. An institutional bookbuild set the placement at 91c per share, which represented a 3.2% discount to the last closing price of Beadell Shares on March 27.
gold. Azimuth is valued at A$188 million and the proposed takeover of the company would see Azimuth shareholders own 45% of the combined company, to be led by Troy Gold CEO Paul Benson. Troy Gold has been actively looking to acquire new projects as its exisiting operations in Brazil and Argentina come nearer to the close-out phase.
El Dorado Gold (NYSE:EGO) announced it is increasing its number of common shares, which may be bought under its normal course issuer bid (NCIB), from 699,047 to 4,199,047 shares, representing 0.59% of 711,375,619 total company shares. Purchases will be made through the TSX at prevailing market prices and the NCIB will end on April 9, 2013. Since the commencement of the NCIB on April 10, 2012, until March 15, 2013, the company will have purchased 668,763 shares at an average price of $10.39 per share.
Crusader Resources (CAS: ASE) has secured A$20 million in funding from Macquarie Bank to develop its Brazilian assets. The company aims to bring its flagship gold Borborema project to production and further develop its Posse iron ore project. The Borborema project has a proven and probable resrve of 1.61Moz Au and a prefeasability study suggests it could reach 3Mt per year production at the plant. The Posse project holds a mineral resource of 36Mt at 43.5% Fe. The 1Mt per year operation has a mine life of six years and was granted an operational license in December 2012. The company also has strong exploration potential for major
Cosigo Resources (TSX-V: CG) made known its application to the Toronto Stock Exchange Venture (TSX-V) to extend the time available to purchase certain common share warrants, as well as to alter the pricing of these outstanding warrants. If granted, the expiry date of 1,008,366 warrants is to be extended until September 2015, from an initial date of September 2013. Another expiry date for 16.5 million shares dating from the reverse takeover (ROT) of Cosigo Resources by Horseshoe Gold Mining Inc. is to be extended from April 2013 to April 2015. Finally, just over 7 million shares issued to subscribers in connection with the ROT will be extended a further 2 years from April 2014 to April 2016. Jaguar Mining (NYSE:JAG) announced a net loss of $84.5 million or $1.00 per fully diluted share in 2012 compared to a net loss of $65.6 million or $0.78 per fully diluted share in 2011. The 2012 financial results include a $103 million impairment charge. Jaguar sold 103,676oz of Au at an average realized price of $1663 per ounce compared to sales of 155,525oz in 2011 at an average price of $1563 per ounce. Average operating costs in 2012 were $1,082 per ounce compared to $870 per ounce in 2011. Troy Brazilian Gold (TRY: ASE) is looking to expand its South America operations by bidding for Azimuth Resources Ltd. Troy already operates two producing mines (Andorinhas gold project in Brazil and Casposo gold-silver project in Argentina) while exploring Brazil’s Guyana jungle for
BRAZIL EXPLORATION BRIEFING Vol 2 • April 2013
gold discoveries in Brazil to complement its Borborema project. Colossus Minerals Inc (TSX: CSI) has provided a development update on its 75%-owned Serra Pelada gold-platinum-pallidium mine. The project is a joint venture agreement with Cooperativa de Mineraçao dos Garimpeiros de Serra Pelada in Pará state. Colossus remains on track to produce at a rate of 250 tons per day in early 2013 and expects this number to increase to 1,000 tons per day by Q1 of 2014. Process plant production is 70% complete and should begin operations in the second half of 2013, while power lines and supplies are on track to be commissioned in Q2 of 2013. Aurora Gold Corporation (Frankfurt: A4G) has engaged Haywood Securities as its sponsoring broker for the company’s proposed listing on the TSX-V. Aurora is a mineral exploration company focused on gold exploration in Tapajos province, Pará.
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BRAZIL EXPLORATION BRIEFING Vol 2 â€˘ April 2013