Alexis Minerals Corporation
TSX : AMC
OTCQX : AXSMF

Alexis Minerals Corporation

March 31, 2011 17:00 ET

Alexis Minerals Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2010 Results

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 31, 2011) -

[Note: All figures are reported in Canadian dollars, unless otherwise noted].

ALEXIS MINERALS CORPORATION (TSX:AMC)(OTCQX:AXSMF) ("Alexis" or the "Company") today released fourth quarter results, annual financial statements and management's discussion and analysis for the year ended December 31, 2010. These documents can be reviewed in full on SEDAR (www.sedar.com) or on the Company's website at www.alexisminerals.com.

2010 Year End and Fourth Quarter Financial Summary:

During the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2010 the following occurred at Alexis:

  • The Company reported revenue of $3.86 million for the fourth quarter and $25.73 million for the year ended December 31, 2010.
  • The Company sold 2,912 ounces of gold at an average realized price of $ 1,387/oz (USD $1,368/oz.) during the fourth quarter and 22,026 ounces at an average realized price of $1,215(USD $1,184) during the year.
  • Cash cost (see non-GAAP measures) of sales per ounce of the Lac Herbin gold sold increased to $2,020/oz for the fourth quarter.
  • The Company wrote down assets of $41.65 million at the Lac Herbin mine and the Lac Pelletier project.
  • Alexis recorded a net loss for the fourth quarter of $44.46 million and for the year ended December 31, 2010 of $48.45 million.

Annual Operations Summary:

  • The Company completed the acquisition with Garson Gold Corp. by plan of arrangement, thereby acquiring the Snow Lake property and has positioned itself towards its target of becoming a mid- tier status mining company.
  • The feasibility study conducted on the Snow Lake property projects over 80,000 ounces of annual gold production and a total of 415,000 ounces of gold production over a five year operating life. In the fourth quarter of 2010, additional mineral claims in the vicinity of Snow Lake were acquired, almost doubling the size of the Company's property holding.
  • Revision of the mineral resource estimate at Lac Herbin Resource was carried out as a result of operating experience encountered in the year. See press release dated March 22, 2011.

Corporate Summary:

  • The Company announced the appointment of Mr. François Perron as the new President and Chief Executive Officer and a director of the Company; and
  • The Company appointed Mr. David Rigg as Co-Chairman of the Company.

François Perron, President & Chief Executive Officer, commented: "This fiscal year has been disappointing for management and shareholders primarily due to under performance at our Lac Herbin gold mine and Lac Pelletier project. Lac Herbin had met production targets in 2009; however gold production declined throughout 2010 straining the cost ratio, as inconsistent gold grades and challenging ground conditions continued into the fourth quarter. While operating costs were reduced by 29% in the fourth quarter, compared to the third quarter; the continued lower than expected grade of gold, the lower than expected production tonnage and the lower than targeted mill recoveries, caused the cost per ounce to increase significantly. Accordingly, we are currently reviewing the operations for Lac Herbin. Unfortunately, Lac Herbin performance has overshadowed other developments in Alexis."

"The potential at the Snow Lake Mine is clear with the completion of the feasibility study in Q4 (see Feasibility Study NI43-101 Report dated December 10, 2010). The study projects over 80,000 ounces of annual gold production over a five year operating period, for total anticipated gold production of over 415,000 ounces of gold at a cash cost of $640 per oz gold. Mineral Resources for Snow Lake increased significantly during 2010. Total Measured and Indicated Resources now total 5.47 million tonnes (MT) grading 4.14 gram gold per tonne (g Au/t) for 728,000 ounces of gold, an increase of 279,000 ounces in 2010. Inferred Resources now total 2.37 MT grading 4.34 g Au/t for 336,700 ounces, an increase of 19,700 ounces gold. The feasibility study identifies new Proven and Probable gold reserves within these Mineral Resources of 3.47 MT grading 4.04 g Au/t for 451,900 ounces of gold. The snow lake results are significant and total Proven and Probable Reserves in Alexis quadrupled during 2010.

"I have high expectations for Alexis' potential and will be working aggressively in my new role to create a positive impact on shareholder value. Currently we have four drills on surface in the Abitibi exploring a variety of gold targets near the Lac Herbin Mine; newly recognized kilometer-long gold trends on Noralex; and, a variety of gold and base metal targets across our extensive properties. In Manitoba, at our Snow Lake project, we have two active drills which are delineating the new East Zone, a potential near- surface extension of the principal mine; and testing several gold occurrences. Drilling will continue here throughout 2011 and examine depth extensions and new discovery in the Snow lake basin." concluded Mr. Perron.

Operating and Financial Results For the year ended December 31, 2010

The Company sold 22,026 ounces of gold and generated $25.73 million in revenue from mining operations during the year ended December 31, 2010. Alexis' average gold sales price was $1,215 (USD $1,184) per ounce during the twelve month period. During the year ended December 31, 2009, 30,400 ounces of gold were sold generating $32.03 million in revenue. The average sales price realized during the year ended December 31, 2009 was $1,106 (USD $982). Mine operating expenses were $27.78 million (2009: $23.54 million) and amortization and depletion amounted to $7.14 million (2009: $6.87 million). The gross loss during the year ended December 31, 2010 was $9.20 million, compared to gross profit of $1.62 million during the year ended December 31, 2009.

Revenue from mining operations includes $26.99 million from gold sales reduced by $1.26 million in refining and royalty charges. The Company is subject to an NSR of 4.5% on Lac Herbin gold sales. The cost of sales per ounce sold during the current period, excluding amortization and depletion, was $1,261 per ounce compared to $774 per ounce during the comparative period (see Non GAAP Measures). The increase in costs was the result of lower overall mine grades, lower than expected mined tonnage, lower recoveries and higher than expected costs incurred as a result of continued custom milling and related transportation during the first and second quarter of 2010. Custom milling continued throughout the first half of the year as the Company redirected its higher grade material to the custom milling facility it used during 2009. The Company also experienced a two month delay in the Aurbel mill start-up. The mill startup was delayed in part due to permitting delays of the tailings area and in part due to the unexpected replacement of older parts as the mill began operating. Cash cost per tonne mined for the year ended December 31, 2010 was $191/tonne, compared to $145/tonne during the same period last year.

Gold production for 2010 totaled 24,930 ounces, slightly higher than the revised guidance for the year. Lac Herbin produced 22,637 ounces of gold, and Lac Pelletier produced 2,293 ounces of gold from bulk sampling. Our first gold mine, Lac Herbin, has continued to produce gold since late 2008; however there have been challenges throughout 2010 with lower than expected gold grades being mined. Difficult ground conditions have also impacted both mining dilution and mine sequencing. Development during Q3 and Q4-2010 focused on several of the narrow vein structures in the deposit and continued to deliver less than the predicted grade of gold. Therefore development was reduced in Q4 to minimize the impact of the resultant lower than expected revenue stream. The net effect has been an increase in the cash cost (see "non-GAAP" measures) of sales to $2,020/oz Au. Management is focused on reviewing the potential of the Lac Herbin resources with the purpose of re-establishing a balanced base of operations. It is anticipated this process will also impact Q1 performance.

Alexis recorded a net loss for the year ended December 31, 2010 of $48.45 million compared to a net loss of $4.37 million for the same period ended December 31, 2009. The Company wrote down the Lac Herbin property, a significant portion of the Lac Pelletier property and the mill and various mining equipment; for a total write-down of $41.65 million. Expenses excluding the write down of mineral properties were $4.22 million during the year ended December 31, 2010 (2009: $5.09 million). The Company also recognized a future income tax recovery of $6.62 million during the current period (2009: an expense of $0.90 million).

Selected Financial and Other Highlights
Unless otherwise noted all amounts are recorded in Canadian dollars.
 
  Three   Three   Twelve   Twelve  
  months   months   months   months  
  ended   ended   ended   ended  
Alexis Minerals Corporation 31-Dec-10   31-Dec-09   31-Dec-10   31-Dec-09  
                 
Tonnes of ore mined   26,335     47,742     133,059     170,657  
Grade per tonne mined   4.11     5.84     5.04     6.01  
Total gold ounces mined   3,478     8,960     21,558     32,999  
Tonnes of ore milled   26,237     44,327     154,343     156,159  
Grade per tonne milled   4.54     6.35     5.15     6.16  
Total gold ounces milled   3,832     9,054     25,568     30,925  
Average recovery rate   79.4 %   97.6 %   88.5 %   97.5 %
Gold ounces recovered   3,044     8,836     22,637     30,150  
Gold ounces sold   2,912     11,075     22,026     30,400  
Average realized gold price (per oz CAD) $ 1,387   $ 1,144   $ 1,215   $ 1,106  
Revenue from mining operations (net of Royalties and refining charges (CAD 000s) $ 3,856   $ 12,107   $ 25,730   $ 32,027  
Mine operating expenses (excludes depletion and amortization) (CAD 000s) $ 5,883   $ 8,382   $ 27,781   $ 23,539  
Amortization and depletion (CAD 000s) $ 1,073   $ 2,475   $ 7,145   $ 6,867  
Gross (loss)/profit (CAD 000s) $ (3,101 ) $ 1,250   $ (9,196 ) $ 1,621  
Net (loss) (CAD 000s) $ (44,458 ) $ (2,160 ) $ (48,449 ) $ (4,370 )
Basic and diluted earnings (loss) per share (CAD) $ (0.13 ) $ (0.01 ) $ (0.19 ) $ (0.03 )
Cash flow from operating activities (CAD 000s)  $ (2,041 ) $ 716   $ 1,173   $ 4,851  
*Cost of sales per ounces sold (CAD) $ 2,020   $ 757   $ 1,261   $ 774  
                         
*see Non GAAP Measures  

Non-GAAP Measures

The Company has included certain Non-GAAP performance measures, namely cash costs per gold ounce sold and working capital, throughout this document. In the gold mining industry, these are common performance measures but do not have any standardized meaning, and are Non-GAAP measures. The Company believes that, in addition to conventional measures prepared in accordance with GAAP, we and certain investors use this information to evaluate the Company's performance and ability to generate cash, profits and meet financial commitments. These Non-GAAP measures are intended to provide additional information and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures of performance prepared in accordance with GAAP. The following tables provide a reconciliation of cash costs per gold ounce sold for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2010 and 2009, and a reconciliation of working capital to the financial statements for the twelve months ended December 31, 2010 and December 31, 2009.

Working Capital

     
(CAD 000's)    
Current assets: December 31, 2010 December 31, 2009
  Cash and cash equivalents $ 9,411 $ 6,106
  Amounts receivable   658   2,083
  Tax credits receivable   6,728   7,465
  Inventory   1,822   6,168
  Prepaid expenses   463   273
  Investments   641   122
    19,723   22,217
Current liabilities        
  Accounts payable and accrued liabilities $ 9,348 $ 13,687
  Current portion of capital lease obligations   137   412
  Current portion of long-term debt   51   99
  Liability component of convertible debenture   -   6,143
    9,536   20,341
  Working capital/(deficit)        
  (current assets less current liabilities) $ 10,187 $ 1,876

Cash cost per ounces sold

  Q4-2010 Q4-2009 2010 2009
 
Revenue        
From commercial production ounces (CAD 000's) $ 3,856 $ 12,107 $ 25,730 $ 32,027
Ounces sold   2,912   11,075   22,026   30,400
Mine operating expenses (CAD 000's) $ 5,883 $ 8,382 $ 27,781 $ 23,539
 
Cash cost per ounce sold (CAD) $ 2,020 $ 757 $ 1,261 $ 774
(mining operating expenses divided by ounces sold)                

Fourth Quarter December 31, 2010 Results of Operations

The Company sold 2,912 ounces of gold and generated $3.86 million in revenue from mining operations during the fourth quarter of 2010. Alexis averaged a gold sale price of $1,387 per ounce during Q4-2010. During Q4-2009, 11,075 ounces of gold were sold generating $12.11 million in revenue. The average sale price realized during Q4-2009 was $1,144. Mine operating expenses were $5.88 million (Q4-2009: $8.38 million) and amortization and depletion amounted to $1.07 million (Q4-2009: $2.47 million). The gross loss was $3.10 million during Q4-2010 compared to a gross profit of $1.25 million during Q4-2009. Revenue from mining operations includes $4.04 million from gold sales reduced by $0.18 million in refining and royalty charges. The Company is subject to an NSR of 4.5% on Lac Herbin gold sales. The cost of sales per ounce sold during the current quarter, excluding amortization and depletion, was $2,020 per ounce compared to $757 per ounce during the comparative quarter. This increase in costs resulted from lower overall mine grades during the quarter, less mined tonnes as well as lower recovery rates. The deposit continues to pose challenges and the Company is focusing on reducing absolute costs. The costs were reduced by 29.6% as compared to Q3 2010. Cash cost per tonne mined for Q4-2010 was $207/tonne, compared to $141/tonne during the same period last year.

Lac Herbin Mine, in Val-d'Or, Quebec, the Company's initial gold operation, mined 3,478 ounces of gold, a 26% reduction compared to 4,677 ounces mined in Q3-2010. The grades realized continued to be lower than expected through this quarter. In addition, ground stability problems in its principal S3 zone resulted in the production of less ore tonnage than scheduled. Management is reassessing the nature of the deposit and has initiated additional exploration in the immediate area of the mine to strengthen the resource base.

The Company's wholly-owned Aurbel Gold Mill performed inconsistently during the fourth quarter with an average recovery rate of 79.4%, down from 91.6% in Q3-2010. The mill continues to improve recoveries and the ramp up curve is progressing more slowly than was anticipated. Recoveries in the quarter were also adversely affected by a revision of the estimated work in progress inventories. The reduction in mill circuit inventory is applied against Q4 production but is in respect to milling throughout 2010. Current recoveries in March 2011 had risen to over 90% as continuing mill improvements take effect.

Cash cost of sales per ounce of the Lac Herbin gold sold increased to $2,020/oz Au for the fourth quarter. This is due to a combination of lower than anticipated grades mined versus milled; restricted tonnage availability from S3; and, lower than expected recoveries at the Aurbel Mill, in part attributed to the revised mill inventories.

Recognition that the deposit continued to pose significant operating challenges, operating costs were reduced during the quarter in an effort to offset lower revenues. Costs were successfully lowered by 30% compared to Q3-2010.

Alexis recorded a net loss for the quarter ended December 31, 2010 of $44.46 million compared to a loss of $2.16 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2009. The primary reason for the significant increase in the loss was the Company's decision to write down the carrying values of Lac Herbin and a significant portion of Lac Pelletier, as well as the mill and certain mining equipment at the Lac Herbin mining site. The Company has gained a better understanding of Lac Herbin during the year and given the revised resource estimates, the Company determined the carrying value of the property was impaired and wrote it down by $21.1 million. Also, given the feasibility study results on Lac Pelletier the Company has also determined that the carrying value should be written down by $12.82 million to $4.6 million. The mill and equipment was assessed by an independent valuator, and consequently, the Company wrote down their value also by $7.71 million. Expenses excluding the write down of mineral properties were $1.13 million during Q4-2010 (Q4-2009: $2.30 million). The Company recognized a future income tax recovery during Q4-2010 of $1.42 million compared to an expense of $1.11 million during Q4-2009.

Q4 Development and Exploration

  • The Feasibility Study for the Snow Lake mine was completed during the quarter. Results confirm the project is economic, with the projected annual production of over 80,000 ounces of gold for and estimated five years, and a pre-tax Net Present Value of approximately $100.8 million. The Feasibility Study included an estimate of proven and probable reserves of 3,477,000 tonnes at 4.04 g/t totaling 451,900 ounces of gold.

  • Exploration and delineation drilling in Q4 totaling 24,565 metres occurred primarily at Snow Lake, the Val d'Or camp and Lac Herbin. Drilling in 2010 totaled 91,058 metres.

  • Exploration drilling at Snow Lake confirmed the potential for mineralization from surface to 520 foot depth within the East Extension of the Main Mine which supports the potential discovery of a major new ore zone on strike of the known deposit. Mineralized gold intersections, often very high grade, were also encountered in the Footwall of the Main Mine Horizon, including for example 2.99 g Au/t over 15.12 metres; 51.46 g Au/t over 1.73 metres and 22.43 g Au/t over 4.21 metres.

  • Visible gold was found as exploration drilling commenced on the Noralex property, 12 km east of Rouyn-Noranda and approximately 10km northwest of the Doyon Mine. The program targets gold mineralization within rocks considered to be stratigraphically equivalent to those of the Doyon-Laronde trend. Results from the Q4-2010/ Q1-2011 program indicates the presence of two broad zones of gold mineralization, 30 to 70 metres wide that extend over distances of up to 1.0 kilometre. The zones are characterized by numerous gold values in a range of 0.5 to 1.5 g Au/t associated with distinct zones of shearing and widespread disseminated sulphides. Late quartz veins, often carrying visible gold, occur dispersed throughout the zones and are associated with short, high-grade gold intersections within several rock types. The Company entered into an option agreement to purchase a 100% interest in 33 mineral claims covering approximately 38 km² in the Herblet Lake area of Manitoba. This property is contiguous to the north of the currently wholly-owned Snow Lake Mine property and brings the total area owned by Alexis in Manitoba to 92 km².

  • The Company announced the potential spin-off of its Abitibi properties as a way to unlock the potential shareholder value associated with these properties. This was subsequently determined not to be the most efficient transaction structure and the spin-off strategy was abandoned.

  • Alexis announced the engagement of Legend Securities in 2010 with the objective of financing Snow Lake into production. Discussions are continuing.

Technical programs and information included in this release have been supervised, compiled and reviewed and approved by David Rigg, P.Geo., Qualified Person as defined under NI 43-101.

About Alexis Minerals

Alexis Minerals Corporation is a Canadian publicly traded mining company concentrating on exploration and mine development. The Company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange ("TSX") under the symbol "AMC", and trades in the United States on the Over the Counter QX International ("OTCQX") platform under the symbol "AXSMF". The Company's focus is to grow through exploration, development and acquisition of mineral properties and directly and indirectly, through joint ventures. Alexis is now in its second full year as a junior gold-producing company. The Company holds a dominant property position (over 1,104 km²) in three of Canada's richest mining camps: Val-d'Or and Rouyn-Noranda, in the Abitibi District of Québec, Canada, historically the third richest gold producing region in the world; and Snow Lake, Manitoba, Canada. Alexis undertakes exploration across these properties searching for new world class discoveries, while maintaining a focus on growing Alexis to become a mid-tier gold producer. For more information, please visit the company's website at www.alexisminerals.com.

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

Except for statements of historical fact, certain information contained herein constitutes "forward-looking information" under Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to, statements with respect to the outcome of these financial results on the future of the Company, development potential of the Company's properties; the future price of gold and other minerals; the estimation of mineral reserves and mineral resources; conclusions of economic evaluation; the realization of mineral reserve estimates; the timing and amount of estimated future production; future costs of production; future capital expenditures; success of exploration activities; mining or processing issues; currency exchange rates; government regulation of mining operations; and environmental risks. Generally, forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "plans", "expects" or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates" or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will be taken", "occur" or "be achieved". Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management as of the date such statements are made. Estimates regarding the anticipated timing, amount and cost of mining at the Lac Herbin, Lac Pelletier and Snow Lake Projects are based on assumptions underlying mineral reserve and mineral resource estimates, the results of feasibility studies on the properties and the realization of such estimates are set out herein. Capital and operating cost estimates are based on extensive research of the Company, costs incurred at the projects to date, purchase orders placed by the Company to date, recent estimates of construction and mining costs and other factors that are set out herein. Production estimates are based on mine plans and production schedules, which have been developed by the Company's personnel and independent consultants.
Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to risks outlined in the annual information form of the Company. Although management of the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.

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