High River Gold Mines Ltd.
TSX : HRG

High River Gold Mines Ltd.

April 19, 2010 19:39 ET

High River Gold Reports 2009 Results

(All currency figures are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted)

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 19, 2010) - High River Gold Mines Ltd. (TSX:HRG)("High River" or the "Company") today reported its financial results and operational highlights for the year ended December 31, 2009. The Consolidated Financial Statements and related Notes along with the Management's Discussion and Analysis have been filed with SEDAR (www.sedar.com) and can be viewed on the Company's website at www.hrg.ca.

HIGHLIGHTS FOR 2009

Financial Results

  • Net gold revenue of $363.3 million, an increase of 100% from 2008
  • Net loss of $9.8 million ($0.02 per share) compared to a net loss of $57.4 million ($0.16 per share) in 2008
  • Cash flow from operations of $125.5 million, up from $25.6 million last year
  • Cash and cash equivalents increased to $82.1 million from $19.1 million last year
  • Working capital increased to $95.8 million from a deficit of $42.1 million last year
  • Current and long term debt levels decreased to $84.0 million from $188.1 million last year, due mainly to principal repayments and foreign exchange movements
  • Prognoz silver project written down by $58.9 million to its estimated fair value

Operations

  • Total gold production increased 52% to 336,366 (2008 – 220,324) ounces (100%). Total cash cost per ounce decreased 21% to US$505 (2008 – US$638 per ounce)
  • The Zun-Holba and Irokinda Gold Mines (including placer operations) produced 149,382 ounces (2008 – 145,763) (100%) at a total cash cost of US$494 per ounce
  • The Taparko-Bouroum Gold Mine produced 99,536 (2008 – 30,667) ounces (100%) at a total cash cost of US$469 per ounce
  • Gold production at Berezitovy was 87,488 ounces (2008 – 43,894 ounces (including volumes preceding commercial production)) (100%), and total cash costs were US$564
  • At the Bissa Gold Project, a significant amount of work was completed during the year, including an infill drilling and trenching programme, resource estimation and metallurgical sampling
  Production (100%) Cash Operating Costs Total Cash Costs
  Oz US$/Oz US$/Oz
Buryatzoloto 149,382 433 494
Berezitovy 87,448 505 564
Somita 99,536 441 469
Total 336,366 454 505

2009 total operating and non-operating cash costs reached US $560 per ounce. Non-operating cash costs per ounce mainly represent corporate administration, exploration, and other expenses such as realized foreign exchange losses.

  • Zun-Holba and Irokinda Underground Gold Mines:
    • Stable production with no material shortcomings
    • On September 11, 2009 the Company announced the death of two of its miners at the Irokinda mine
  • Berezitovy Open-pit Gold Mine:
    • Production increased from 2008 due to higher plant availability. Production levels continue to be constrained by maintenance shut-downs, disk filter plant under- performance as well as crusher problems
  • Taparko-Bouroum Open-pit Gold Mine:
    • Production increased compared to 2008 mainly because of better mill availability

Corporate

  • During the year, Terrence Lyons, John Crow, Roman Deniskin, Nikolai Zelenskiy and Stephen Polakoff resigned as Directors. Alexey Khudyakov, Karl Glackmeyer, Igor Klimanov, Andrei Maslov, Andrew Matthews and Richard Ogdon joined the Board. Mr. Khudyakov was also named Chairman. Steven Poad joined the Board and later resigned.
  • Steven Poad resigned as CFO, Nikolai Zelenskiy resigned as CEO, Driffield Cameron resigned as Vice President, Exploration and Dan Hrushewsky resigned as Vice President, Investor Relations. Igor Klimanov took on responsibility for investor relations and was also appointed CEO. Andrei Maslov was appointed CFO.
  • Standard Bank Plc ("Standard Bank") assigned the US$15,000,000 loan due from High River and the US$12,000,000 loan due from Somita to Severstal, a related party of High River. The loans were repaid in December.
  • Severstal acquired 59,019,367 additional shares at $0.18 per share in a non-brokered private placement.
  • Severstal announced an offer to acquire all the outstanding shares of the Company for $0.22 per share and subsequently increased its unconditional tender offer to $0.30 per share. Severstal acquired 28,897,135 additional shares as a result of the offer which expired on August 10, 2009.
  • On August 6, 2009, the Company announced that the Toronto Stock Exchange determined that High River satisfies the TSX's continued listing requirements.
  • On December 2, 2009, High River closed a private placement of 150,000,000 common shares of the Company with Polenica Investments Limited ("Polenica"), an affiliate of Troika Dialog Group ("Troika"). The proceeds of the private placement were used by High River to repay the approximately US$27 million plus accrued interest outstanding under the two credit agreements that were assigned by Standard Bank Plc to Severstal. The balance is being used to fund the exploration program at Buryatzoloto and for general corporate purposes. The private placement was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of High River.
  DISCUSSION OF FINANCIAL RESULTS
 
Selected Financial Results          
 
(in thousands of Canadian dollars except per share amounts)  
  2009   2008              2007
Gold revenue $ 363,259   $ 180,788   $ 115,641  
Net loss   9,764     57,447     11,991  
Net loss per share (basic)   0.02     0.16     0.05  
Cash provided by (used in) operating activities   126,236     25,605     (4,853 )
Total assets   706,962     753,109     666,055  
Loans and interest payable   84,031     188,145     175,263  
Weighted average number of shares outstanding (basic)   634,009,385     354,923,765     261,676,314  

The Company's consolidated net gold revenues for 2009 increased to $363.3 million from $180.8 million in 2008. Higher production by Taparko and Berezitovy increased the number of ounces sold. The average gold price realized on sales was US$976 per ounce during 2009, up from US$862 in 2008 and up from US$687 in 2007.

The Company had a net loss of $9.8 million in 2009, compared to a net loss of $57.4 million in 2008 and a net loss of $12.0 million in 2007. The loss largely reflects the write-down of the Prognoz Silver project of $58,6 million in Q2 2009.

Cash flow from operations of $125.5 million increased from $25.6 million in 2008. Cash flow from operations increased from last year largely due to the higher gold revenue as discussed above.

OVERVIEW OF OPERATIONS

Underground Mines

The Zun-Holba and Irokinda underground gold mines located in Russia and operated by Buryatzoloto reported no material changes or shortcomings in their operations during the year and continue to operate according to plan. Buryatzoloto continues to be profitable and achieved its production objectives for 2009 with 149,382 ounces (100%) of gold produced at an estimated total cash cost of US$494 per ounce as compared to 145,763 ounces at US$580 per ounce in 2008. The weakening of the Russian Rouble in comparison to the US$ in 2009 compared to 2008 has offset Rouble cost increases due to inflation and increases in output.

Replacing reserves at these mines is a priority of local management. A $23 million budget for mine-site exploration is planned for 2010 to replace mined-out reserves and extend the mine life at Irokinda and Zun-Holba. In addition, a substantial capital program will be allocated in the first half of 2010 for capital mining works to prepare the existing reserves for extraction.

Open Pit Mines

Berezitovy Mine (Russia)

Berezitovy continues to underperform. Production (100%) at Berezitovy in 2009 was 87,448 ounces of gold, compared to 43,894 ounces produced in 2008. Production increased from 2008, due to higher throughput. Production levels continue to be constrained by maintenance shut- downs and disk filter plant under-performance as well as crusher problems.

Taparko-Bouroum Mine (Burkina Faso)

In 2009, gold poured at Taparko (100%) totaled 99,536 ounces, up significantly from the 2008 level of 30,667 ounces. The production increased compared to the previous year mainly because of better mill availability.

High River believes that many of the technical start-up problems at the Taparko-Bouroum mill have been resolved. The mill vibration issue that was of concern has been reduced and will continue to be monitored.

Advanced Exploration Projects

Bissa Gold Project

A significant amount of work related to a feasibility study was completed during 2009. Infill drilling occurred along three kilometres immediately adjacent and along strike to the southwest of the Bissa Resource Area which hosts the current resource. Other work conducted for the bankable feasibility study included three dimensional modelling, resource estimation, geotechnical mapping, additional metallurgical sampling test work, topographical surveying and environmental work. In addition to activity related to the feasibility study at Bissa, exploration work occurred on other areas within the Bissa Group Permits and on other exploration concessions in Burkina Faso.

Approximately US$2 million is budgeted for completion of the Bissa feasibility study in 2010 and about US$2 million is recommended for additional exploration on the Bissa Group Permits. Work planned includes approximately 5,500 meters of reverse circulation drilling and about 2,600 meters of diamond drilling with the main drilling targets being Gougre and Bouly.

Novophirsovskoye Gold Project, Russia

The Company determined that the Novophirsovskoye project is no longer a key exploration property. A buyer was found for the property and the project was written down in the third quarter to the sales value of US$1.0 million. The sale closed in Q4 2009.

About High River

High River is unhedged gold company with interests in producing mines and advanced exploration projects in Russia and Burkina Faso. Two underground producing mines, Zun-Holba and Irokinda, are situated in the Lake Baikal region of Russia. Two open pit gold mines, Berezitovy in Russia and Taparko-Bouroum in Burkina Faso, are also in production. Finally, High River has two advanced exploration projects with NI 43-101 compliant resource estimates, the Bissa gold project in Burkina Faso and a 50% interest in the Prognoz silver project in Russia.

FORWARD LOOKING INFORMATION

This release and subsequent oral statements made by and on behalf of the Company may contain forward-looking statements. Wherever possible, words such as "intends", "expects", "scheduled", "estimates", "anticipates", "believes", and similar expressions or statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved, have been used to identify these forward-looking statements. Although the forward-looking statements contained in this release reflect management's current beliefs based upon information currently available to management and based upon what management believes to be reasonable assumptions, High River cannot be certain that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. A number of factors could cause events and achievements to differ materially from the results expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. These factors should be considered carefully and prospective investors should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements necessarily involve significant known and unknown risks, assumptions and uncertainties that may cause High River's actual results, event, prospects and opportunities to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Although High River has attempted to identify important risks and factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors and risks that cause actions, events or results not to be anticipated, estimated or intended, including those risk factors discussed in the Company's 2008 Annual Information Form. There can be no assurance that the forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, prospective investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this release, and High River assumes no obligation to update or revise them to reflect new events or circumstances, unless otherwise required by law.

High River Gold Mines Ltd.        
         
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS        
(Expressed in thousands of Canadian dollars)        
   
As at December 31, 2009   2008  
Assets            
Current Assets            
 Cash and cash equivalents $ 82,061   $ 19,123  
 Restricted cash   562      
 Accounts receivable   18,115     14,546  
 Inventory   81,090     79,369  
 Other assets   12,382     11,401  
    194,210     124,439  
Investments   64,810     22,724  
Property, plant and equipment   340,606     432,089  
Exploration properties and deferred exploration   105,061     170,522  
Other assets   697     3,335  
Future income taxes   1,578      
Total Assets $ 706,962   $ 753,109  
Liabilities            
Current Liabilities            
 Accounts payable $ 39,726   $ 29,842  
 Loans and interest payable   58,666     136,699  
    98,392     166,541  
Loans and interest payable   25,365     51,446  
Reclamation and closure costs   14,208     10,078  
Non-hedge derivatives   13,684     13,651  
Future income taxes   20,567     15,884  
    172,216     257,600  
Non-controlling interest   21,922     18,467  
Total Liabilities   194,128     276,067  
Shareholders' Equity            
Share capital   610,770     543,244  
Warrants   13,265     16,627  
Contributed surplus   15,907     12,876  
Debenture conversion option   538     538  
Deficit   (121,801 )   (112,037 )
Accumulated other comprehensive income   (5,855 )   15,794  
Total Shareholders' Equity   512,824     477,042  
Total Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity $ 706,962   $ 753,109  
   
High River Gold Mines Ltd.  
         
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS  
(Expressed in thousands of Canadian dollars except per share figures)
For the years ended December 31, 2009   2008  
Revenue            
Gold $ 363,259   $ 180,788  
Silver   6,090     383  
    369,349     181,171  
Expenses            
Mining costs   183,433     125,099  
Mine administrative costs   9,717     9,704  
Mine amortization and depletion   58,716     27,908  
Asset retirement obligation accretion   853     655  
Standby costs       8,707  
    252,719     172,073  
Income before the undernoted   116,630     9,098  
Administrative costs   (13,245 )   (17,057 )
Amortization   (46 )   (603 )
Exploration expense   (4,330 )   (10,012 )
  Financing costs and investment income, net   (21,699 )   (14,428 )
Other expenses   (80,026 )   (14,384 )
Income before tax and non-controlling interest   (2,716 )   (47,386 )
Income tax expense   (3,593 )   (9,424 )
Loss before non-controlling interest   (6,309 )   (56,810 )
Non-controlling interest in earnings of subsidiary   (3,455 )   (637 )
Net loss for the year $ (9,764 ) $ (57,447 )
  Net loss per share – basic and diluted $ (0.02 ) $ (0.16 )
 
           
High River Gold Mines Ltd.          
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS          
(Expressed in thousands of Canadian dollars)          
For the years ended December 31, 2009     2008  
Operating Activities              
Net loss for the year $ (9,764 )   $ (57,447 )
Non-cash items:              
  Non-controlling interest in earnings of subsidiary   3,455       637  
  Change in inventory   (4,482 )     3,315  
  Amortization and depletion   58,762       28,511  
  Asset retirement obligation accretion   853       655  
  Financial instrument accretion   835       (210 )
  Fair value adjustments to financial instruments   1,917       4,697  
  Stock based compensation   223       1,825  
  Write-down of exploration   70,764       5,450  
  Loss on disposal of assets   1,977       7,914  
  Future income taxes   (7,794 )     3,633  
  Unrealized foreign exchange   2,992       (3,904 )
  Other   2,278       (3,136 )
Subtotal   122,016       (8,060 )
Change in non-cash working capital   3,480       33,665  
Net cash provided by operating activities   125,496       25,605  
   
Investing Activities              
  Property, plant and equipment   (25,798 )     (25,233 )
  Proceeds on disposal   1,756       7  
  Exploration properties and deferred exploration   (8,484 )     (32,134 )
  Development properties         (28,352 )
  Purchase of investments         (10,802 )
  Proceeds from sale of investments         2,715  
  Allocation of restricted cash   (562 )     72  
  Purchase of other long-term assets   168       (204 )
Net cash used by investing activities   (32,920 )     (93,931 )
   
Financing Activities              
  Loans received   12,331       46,409  
  Loans repaid   (106,781 )     (98,666 )
  Common shares issued   67,511       86,491  
Net cash provided by (used by) financing activities   (26,939 )     34,234  
   
Effect of exchange rate changes on cash held in foreign currencies   (2,699 )     1,724  
   
Increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents during the year   62,938       (32,368 )
Cash and cash equivalents - Beginning of year   19,123       51,491  
Cash and cash equivalents - End of year $ 82,061     $ 19,123  

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