SSR Mining Inc. achieved its strongest gold production and cost performance of the year in the third quarter despite lower metal prices, breaking records at mines including the Marigold mine near Valmy, the company reported in its financial results.
“We more than doubled operating cash flow and increased attributable earnings compared to last quarter, having set new operating records at Marigold and Seabee, and achieved key milestones at Chinchillas [in Argentina],” said Paul Benson, SSR Mining president and CEO, in a statement Nov. 8. “This added confidence in the business led to improved 2018 guidance, as we deliver another year of value and growth for our shareholders.”
The intermediate precious metals producer based in Vancouver has three operations: the Marigold mine, Seabee gold operation in Canada and the 75 percent owned and operated Puna joint venture for silver and zinc in Argentina.
At the open pit heap leach Marigold mine, mining costs reached a low of $1.51 per ton. The company moved a record 21.3 million metric tons of material, a 33 percent quarterly increase, thanks to the addition of four haul trucks. Production totaled more than 58,000 ounces of gold, an 18 percent quarterly increase.
“It was great to see the trucks have an immediate impact on Marigold performance …” said Kevin O’Kane, senior vice president and chief operating officer, during a conference call to discuss third-quarter results.
Exploration results at Marigold have been focused on the Red Dot resource area and Mackay pit, and the company expects to upgrade Red Dot inferred resources by the end of the year with the goal of updating the mine plan by mid-2019.
SSR Mining expects a strong finish to the year at Marigold with the commissioning of a new leach pad.
Over all its operations, SSR Mining doubled cash generated from operating activities compared to the second quarter to $35.4 million
Adjusted basic attributable income per share was 9 cents.
Net income was similar to last quarter at $2.2 million, negatively impacted by an elevated tax rate for the Puna operations.
Revenue was up 11 percent over the second quarter despite a drop in metal prices.
Quarter-end cash balance was $475 million and total liquidity of about $550 million.
“While our sector is broadly struggling with lower metal prices and a lack of profitable growth opportunities, we are increasing cash flow and earnings per share and delivering on our robust growth profile for our shareholders,” Benson said in the conference call.
Year to date, however, the company experienced a 7 percent decrease in revenue for the first nine months of 2018 compared to 2017, and a decrease in gross margins.
Cash generated by operating activities also decreased over the first nine months of this year compared to last.
SSR Mining produced a record 27,831 ounces of gold at record low cash costs at its Seabee gold operation, and the Chinchillas project in the Puna operations remains on track to achieve commercial production by the end of the year.
Companywide production totaled 94,808 gold equivalent ounces produced, an 11 percent increase over the previous quarter.
The strong third-quarter performance allowed SSR Mining to adjust production and cost guidance for the remainder of 2018.
At Marigold, annual cash cost guidance is reduce for the second time in 2018, while annual production guidance narrows because of faster leaching in the third quarter.
At Seabee, annual production guidance increased to between 90,000 and 95,000 gold ounces, an approximate 4,000 gold ounce increase reflecting higher grades of ore milled. Annual cash cost guidance is also reduced for the second time this year.
Benson said in conclusion that the “positive guidance revisions are a testament” to operations continuing to outperform expectations in the third quarter.
He said he looks forward to meeting or exceeding cost guidance for the seventh consecutive year, beginning commercial production at Chinchillas, completing exploration programs and moving into the next phase of growth at each of the operations.