TORONTO, CANADA--(Marketwire - Nov. 7, 2012) - Gabriel Resources Ltd. ("Gabriel" or the "Company") (TSX:GBU) announces the publication of its Third Quarter Financial Statements and Management's Discussion and Analysis Report for the period ended September 30, 2012. Additionally, the Company has today filed a new National Instrument 43-101 compliant Technical Report on the Rosia Montana Gold and Silver Project, Transylvania, Romania, effective as at October 1, 2012 (the "Technical Report") on the SEDAR website (www.sedar.com).
- The political landscape of Romania has shifted significantly since the start of 2012. The current Prime Minister, Mr. Victor Ponta, is the third to have served Romania in this role in the last six months. Mr. Ponta, President of the Social Democrat Party ("PSD"), leads a coalition government ("USL"), predominantly formed by the PSD and the Liberal Party ("PNL"), which was formally sworn in by Parliament on May 7, 2012. At the beginning of September, 2012 the Government announced that the parliamentary elections will be held on December 9, 2012.
- Permitting for the Rosia Montana Project ("Project") remains the core focus of the Company, however Gabriel is still awaiting formal confirmation from the Technical Analysis Committee ("TAC"), through its review of the Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA"), that all technical aspects have been clarified to its satisfaction.
- With the uncertainty created by ongoing political change in 2012, and Government focused on internal domestic (as well as EU related) matters together with parliamentary elections in the short-term, the Company is of the view that there will be no material dialogue with the Government on the Project permitting for the remainder of the year and has scaled back expenditure in most areas. At this time Gabriel is unable to provide guidance on the time that it might take the TAC to vote on the EIA or to release its recommendation to the Government.
- An independent proposal has been put before the Alba County Council for the organization of a regional referendum on December 9, 2012 in respect of the recommencement of mining at Rosia Montana. The Company understands that Alba County Council has yet to consider the proposal fully and vote on this matter, however should such a referendum proceed, the Company would welcome the platform to illustrate the positive impact of the Project on environmental rehabilitation, job creation and heritage salvation for an area that has many years of mining tradition and no viable alternative to the significant economic benefits the Project can deliver. Should the referendum go ahead, the Company may have to resume certain activities including media and public relations and increase its previously reduced expenditure accordingly.
- The Company's 80.69% owned Romanian subsidiary, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation S.A. ("RMGC"), recently received the 17th positive court decision for the progress of the Project from 18 legal challenges to permitting, licencing and other Project matters since early 2010. However NGO's against the Project have continued to register new legal challenges in the quarter against local, regional and national Romanian authorities that grant licenses, permits, authorizations and approvals for many aspects of the Project. The Company will continue to work with local, county and federal authorities to ensure the Project receives a fair and timely evaluation in accordance with Romanian and EU laws.
- $89.7 million of cash and cash equivalents was held at September 30, 2012.
- SRK Consulting (UK) Ltd ("SRK") has provided a Technical Report commissioned to reflect the status of the Project as at October 1, 2012, and to present updated capital and operating costs and revenue projections from those last published by the Company in March 2009 (the "2009 Report") within the context of the current environment for commodity, capital equipment and consumable prices. Key highlights include:
- No material change to the Proven and Probable Mineral Reserve previously published as there has been no material change to the mine plan.
- Annual production of the Project estimated at an average of approximately 610,000 ounces of gold and 2.6 million ounces of silver (years 1-5) and 485,000 ounces of gold and 1.8 million ounces of silver over the 16 year life-of-mine ("LoM").
- Initial capital cost of US$1.4 billion and LoM sustaining capital costs of US$571 million.
- Operating cash costs of US$16.97 per tonne of ore processed, equivalent to US$399 per ounce of gold produced over the LoM (including refining, transport, treatment, a four per cent royalty and net of silver credits).
- At a gold price of US$1,200/oz, silver price of US$20/oz and 10% discount rate, a post-tax, pre-finance NPV of US$865 million, IRR of 19.6% and payback in year four of production.
- At a gold price of US$1,800/oz, silver price of US$35/oz and 10% discount rate, the post-tax, pre-finance NPV increases to US$2.5 billion, the IRR rises to 32.5% and payback accelerates to year two of production.
- Estimated capital required to bring the Project to positive cashflow is approximately US$1.54 billion.
Jonathan Henry, Gabriel's President and Chief Executive Officer, stated:
"The potential for a local referendum is a positive development for the Company - this would allow an open and transparent platform for those that will be directly impacted to demonstrate their true support for the Project. The Project will provide substantial economic, social and environmental benefits not only for the local area around Rosia Montana but also for Romania as a whole. In the absence of any public commitment from the Romanian Government, the timeline for permitting the Project remains uncertain, and is likely to remain so until after the December parliamentary elections."
Further information on the highlights of the Technical Report, and commentary on the operations and results in the third quarter of 2012 is given below. The Company has filed its Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements, Management's Discussion & Analysis and Technical Report on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and each is available for review on the Company's website at www.gabrielresources.com.
Gabriel is a Canadian TSX-listed resource company focused on permitting and developing its world-class Rosia Montana gold and silver project. The Project, the largest undeveloped gold deposit in Europe, is owned through Rosia Montana Gold Corporation ("RMGC"), a Romanian company in which Gabriel holds an 80.69% stake with the 19.31% balance held by CNCAF Minvest S.A., a Romanian state-owned mining enterprise. Gabriel and RMGC are committed to responsible mining and sustainable development in the communities in which they operate. The Project is anticipated to bring US$19 billion to Romania as potential direct and indirect contribution to GDP according to 2010 estimates from UK-based Oxford Policy Management (using a gold price of US$900/oz). This contribution increases to over US$30 billion at today's gold price. The Project will generate thousands of employment opportunities. Gabriel intends to build a state-of-the-art mine using best available techniques and implementing the highest environmental standards whilst preserving local and national cultural heritage in Romania. For more information please visit the Company's website at www.gabrielresources.com.
- The net loss for the third quarter was $3.7 million, or $0.01 per share.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
- Cash and cash equivalents at September 30, 2012 totaled $89.7 million.
- The Company has been implementing its previously announced plans to reduce substantially monthly costs until such time as the Government moves ahead with Project permitting. Notwithstanding, should the proposed referendum go ahead, the Company may have to re-activate certain activities.
NI 43-101 Technical Report
- The Technical Report filed today reflects the status of the Project as at October 1, 2012 and presents updated capital and operating costs and revenue projections from those previously published within the context of the current environment for commodity, capital equipment and consumable prices.
- There is no material change to the Proven and Probable Mineral Reserve previously published as there has been no material change to the mine plan. SRK's audited Mineral Reserve Statement reflects the ore planned to be mined as assumed by the economic model and simply comprises the portion of the Mineral Resource that, inclusive of mining dilution and allowing for mining losses, falls within the pit outlines designed.
- SRK considers the Mineral Reserve statement summarized below, and the following Mineral Resource statement, to be in accordance with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), CIM Standards on Mineral Resources and Reserves, Definitions and Guidelines (CIM Standards).
- The audited Mineral Resource statement is reported by SRK at a cut-off of 0.4 g/t Au (rather than 0.6 g/t Au used in the 2009 Report) to reflect the fact that at current gold prices this material has potential to be economic and is summarized below.
||Au Grade (g/t)
||Ag Grade (g/t)
||Au Metal (Koz)
||Ag Metal (Koz)
|Measured and Indicated
- The annual production of the Project is estimated at an average of approximately 610,000 ounces of gold and 2.6 million ounces of silver during its first five years of operation and an average of approximately 485,000 ounces of gold and 1.8 million ounces of silver over the 16 year life-of-mine.
- The initial and sustaining capital costs for the Project have been updated for the purposes of the Technical Report as at the third quarter of 2012. These updated estimates are a combination of first principle estimates, quotes and escalations of previous estimates. Overall the initial capital cost has increased from US$876 million in the 2009 Report to US$1.4 billion and the sustaining capital costs from US$366 million in the 2009 Report to US$571 million.
- Operating cash costs, estimated in accordance with standard industry practices and valid as at the third quarter of 2012, equate to some US$16.97 per tonne of ore processed, equivalent to US$399 per ounce of gold produced over the LoM (including refining, transport, treatment, a four per cent royalty and net of silver credits).
- The economic analysis presented by SRK in the Technical Report, which considers the Proven and Probable Mineral Reserve planned to be mined and processed over a 16 year period at the Project derived the following key post-tax, pre-finance LoM results at a gold price of US$1,200/oz and silver price of US$20/oz:
- Undiscounted cash flow US$3.6 billion;
- NPV at a 10% discount rate of US$865 million;
- IRR of 19.6%; and
- Payback of initial capital outlay in Year 4 of production.
- SRK further reports that, assuming a spot price of US$1,800/oz for gold and US$35/oz for silver in the economic analysis, the operating cash cost, net of silver credits reduces to US$371/oz. On the same basis, the following key post-tax, pre-finance LoM results are reported:
- Undiscounted cash flow of US$7.7 billion;
- NPV at a 10% discount rate of US$2.5 billion;
- IRR of 32.5%; and
- Payback of initial capital outlay in Year 2 of production.
- Including estimated interest, financing and corporate costs the Company estimates the capital required to bring the Project into production and to a position of positive cashflow is approximately US$1.54 billion.
- During 2012, the intense domestic political infighting has limited significantly the level of Government engagement on the Project and continues to be a cause for concern inside and outside of Romania with pronouncements from the EU and European governments.
- On July 6, 2012, Romania's Parliament voted to suspend the President pending a public referendum on the President's removal. The referendum, which was held on July 29, 2012, fell short of the 50% turnout threshold required for the result to be binding, despite a majority voting for the President's dismissal. The result was approved one month later by the Constitutional Court and President Basescu was reinstated in his official position on September 4, 2012.
- With the uncertainty created by ongoing political change in 2012, and Government focused on internal domestic (as well as EU related) matters together with parliamentary elections in the short-term, the Company is of the view that there will be no material dialogue with the USL Government on the Project's permitting for the remainder of the year.
- The Company will continue to pursue a strategy of engagement with all stakeholders, to explain the critical importance of the Project as part of the sustained economic development for Romania, and its commitment to adhere to the highest standards on engineering, environmental, cultural and social matters.
- On October 18, 2012 the Romanian media reported that a proposal had been put before the Alba County Council for the organization of a regional referendum on December 9, 2012 in respect of the recommencement of mining at Rosia Montana, the location of the Project. The Company understands that Alba County Council has yet to consider the proposal fully and vote on this matter. There are multiple benefits that the Project will bring to an area that is facing extreme poverty whilst continuing to suffer a growing legacy of environmental damage and decay of cultural heritage caused by past unregulated mining activities. Should the referendum proceed, the Company would welcome the platform to illustrate the positive impact of the Project on environmental rehabilitation, job creation and heritage salvation for an area that has many years of mining tradition and no viable alternative to the significant economic benefits the Project can deliver.
Project Ownership and Royalty Rates
- On July 31, 2012 it was reported that Mr. Ponta had requested a resumption of the legislative approval process of proposed amendments to the royalty rates applicable to certain resources including precious metals. There have been no official announcements since July 2012 and the Company has had no discussions with the USL Government in respect of Project ownership or royalty rates.
- As a consequence of the recent political changes, the Company awaits further clarification from the USL Government and the Technical Analysis Committee as to whether further meetings or documentation will be requested and the next steps in its environmental review process. Gabriel remains unable to provide guidance on the time that it might take the TAC to vote on the EIA or to release its recommendation to the Government.
- The permitting progress of the Project relies heavily on Government approval of the environmental permit ("EP") and the issuance, in accordance with due process and Romanian law, of various permits and approvals at local, county and federal levels of government. The USL Government has stated it will re-analyze the Project in a transparent manner and based on an open and democratic dialogue, so that the decisions are in accordance with the national interest, environmental protection and European legislation. The Company is looking forward to having an open dialogue with the Government, in whatever form it takes following the December 2012 parliamentary election, to understand and discuss any and all issues and concerns in relation to the Project.
- As a result of the ongoing delays to the permitting process, two of the 19 endorsements to the Company's amended industrial zonal urbanism plan ("Industrial Area PUZ"), which designates an industrial zone under the footprint of the proposed new mine at Rosia Montana, have expired. One equivalent endorsement for the zonal urbanism plan for the Rosia Montana historical protected area ("Historical Area PUZ") has also expired. In due course the Company plans to submit the necessary documents to obtain new endorsements.
- The validity of the existing General Urbanism Plans ("PUGs") for Rosia Montana and Abrud has been extended, pursuant to local council decisions, through to July 2014 in both cases. Furthermore, RMGC has obtained an extension to the validity of its urbanism certificate, UC-87, for a period until April 2013.
Archaeology and Preservation of Cultural Heritage
- The Company has continued maintenance work on 160 houses located in the historical center of the village of Rosia Montana ("Protected Area"), with the aim of preventing their deterioration. Through Q3 2012, the restoration of sixteen of these houses has been completed and these are now in use. Whilst these village houses are not designated as historic, the restoration will contribute to maintaining the character of the village.
- RMGC, in partnership with the local council of Rosia Montana, is progressing the restoration of two iconic buildings (the old school house and former town hall) in the Protected Area, along with the rehabilitation of a number of houses, which will be used for tourism initiatives. The restoration of the former town hall achieved practical completion during Q3 2012. The remaining restoration works are planned to be scaled back until such time as the Government moves ahead with Project permitting.
- RMGC has continued further detailed archaeological work in the old underground Roman mining galleries that lie under the Protected Area. This work has focused on restoring previously unexplored galleries with a view to opening them as a permanent museum, a visible testimony to the 2,000 year mining history at Rosia Montana and an accessible example of historical mining activities for parties with interests in the regional mining sector. One such example is the Catalina Monulesti underground mining gallery which is in the process of being successfully restored and has been opened to the public. The Company has already hosted approximately one thousand visitors, representing various stakeholder groups.
Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR)
- Gabriel takes pride in its commitment to achieving the highest levels of sustainability from workplace safety to community and environmental responsibility. It has a clear goal of attaining business performance through a dynamic process of continuous improvement in all aspects of its business and respecting all stakeholders. The Company invests significant resources into its CSR programs, which in Romania is a multi-dimensional commitment managed by RMGC covering employee training and safety, local communities, living traditions, direct and indirect social impacts, educational programs, environmental protection, community sponsorship and heritage aspects.
- RMGC has been a long-standing sponsor to the annual 'Miner's Day & Mining Communities and Mining Traditions Festival', which in August 2012 involved almost 4,000 attendees.
- RMGC currently employs approximately 500 people directly and numerous others indirectly, with approximately 85% hired from the local Rosia Montana community, and the Company is investing in training and skills assessments for the construction phase of the Project.
- Over the years certain foreign and domestically-funded non-governmental organizations ("NGOs") have initiated a multitude of legal challenges against licenses, permits, authorizations and approvals obtained for the exploration and development of the Project.
- The publicly stated objective of the NGOs in initiating and maintaining these legal challenges is to use the Romanian court system not only to delay as much as possible, but to ultimately stop the development of the Project. While a small number of these actions over many years have been successful, most have been, and continue to be proved to be, frivolous in the Romanian courts. Since early 2010 17 court decisions (from 18 legal challenges to permitting, licencing and other Project matters) have been positive for the progress of the Project.
- Cases concluded during the third quarter of 2012 include:
- An action commenced by two NGOs which sought the cancellation and suspension of UC-87 was dismissed by the Bucharest Tribunal on December 21, 2011. The NGOs appealed this decision, an appeal which was irrevocably rejected by the Bucharest Court of Appeal on October 15, 2012.
- A claim initiated by the Archaeological Restoration Association ("ARA") in the Alba Iulia Tribunal which sought to commence the procedure of classifying certain buildings from Rosia Montana as historical monuments was rejected at a hearing on February 3, 2012. This decision was appealed by the ARA to the Alba Iulia Court of Appeal, an appeal which was irrevocably rejected by that Court of Appeal on October 3, 2012.
- Upcoming hearings in the fourth quarter of 2012 include:
- A claim seeking the cancellation of the Strategic Environmental Assessment endorsement ("SEA") to the Industrial Area PUZ, which was issued by the Regional Agency for Environmental Protection of Sibiu in March 2011, is scheduled to be heard on November 9, 2012.
- A claim seeking the suspension of the SEA, initiated by the same NGOs, is also scheduled to be heard in the same court on November 9, 2012.
- The next hearing of a claim by three NGOs in the Cluj Tribunal seeking the suspension of the Archaeological Discharge Certificate ("ADC"), issued in July 2011 for the Carnic open-pit, is scheduled to be heard on November 9, 2012.
- On November 19, 2012 a request filed by the same three NGOs for the cancellation of the ADC is scheduled to be heard with the Cluj Tribunal.
- A further hearing is scheduled for November 26, 2012 in respect of the outstanding legal challenge originally commenced by RMGC in November 16, 2007 to compel the MoE to resume the EIA review. On June 19, 2012 the High Court of Cassation and Justice quashed a 2009 decision of the Bucharest Court of Appeal and further ordered that the file should be returned to the Bucharest Court of Appeal to be reheard on its merits. RMGC now awaits confirmation from the Bucharest Court of Appeal that it has accepted RMGC's request to discontinue a related monetary damages claim against the MoE and its former officials and the case as a whole due to a lack of interest (as the EIA review has recommenced).
- Due to the inherent uncertainties of the judicial process, the Company is unable to predict the ultimate outcome or impact, if any, with respect to matters challenged in the Romanian courts. In all circumstances, the Company and/or RMGC will vigorously maintain its legal rights and will continue to work with local, county and federal authorities to ensure the Project receives a fair and timely evaluation in accordance with Romanian and EU laws. However, there can be no assurance that the Company and/or RMGC (as the case may be) will prevail in these matters. If any claims are not resolved in the Company's or RMGC's favour, then such a negative ruling may have a material adverse effect on the timing and/or outcome of the permitting process for the Project and the Company's financial condition. The implications of a negative court ruling will only be known once such a decision is issued and the position of the Government is assessed.
- The Company's key objectives in the short term include to:
- Operate on a reduced cost basis until such time as the Government moves ahead with Project permitting;
- Continue efforts to increase the Romanian public and Government awareness of the Project benefits, economic and otherwise, and support for the permitting of the Project;
- Obtain approval of the EP and all other required permits that allow construction activities to commence;
- Maximize shareholder value, while optimizing the Project benefits to those in the community and the surrounding area.
The Technical Report was authored by Dr. Mike Armitage, FGS, C.Geol, MIMMM, CEng of independent consultants, SRK. Dr Armitage is a Qualified Person for the purposes of the Technical Report, under the standards set forth by National Instrument 43-101 "Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects", of the Canadian Securities Administrators. The Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserve statements in the Technical Report are reported in accordance with CIM Standards. Dr. Armitage has consented to the public filing of the Technical Report and has reviewed and approved the extracts of, or summary from, the Technical Report within this news release, as applicable.
This press release contains forward-looking information as defined in applicable securities laws relating to the Company and/or the Project (referred to herein as "forward-looking statements") that are based on management's current expectations, estimates and projections. Specifically, this press release contains forward-looking statements regarding the returns to Romania of a change in equity and royalty rates applicable to the Project. All statements other than statements of historical facts included herein, including without limitation, those incorporated by reference, those which may refer to the Company's financial position, business strategy, plans, objectives of management for future operations (including development plans and objectives relating to the Company's business) the economic impact, job creation, costs estimates, patrimony plans, future ability of the Company to finance the Project, Project delivery and estimates regarding the timing of completion of various aspects of the Projects' development or of future performance are forward-looking statements.
The words "believe", "expect", "anticipate", "contemplate", "target", "plan", "intends", "continue", "budget", "estimate", "projects", "may", "will", "schedule", and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies.
Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which are difficult, or may be beyond Gabriel's ability, to predict or control and that may cause the actual outcomes, level of activity, financial results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, These risks, uncertainties and other factors include, without limitation, changes in the worldwide price of precious metals; fluctuations in exchange rates; legislative, political or economic developments including changes to mining and other relevant legislation in Romania; geopolitical uncertainty, uncertain legal enforcement; changes in, and the effects of, the government policies affecting the Company's operations; uncertainties related to timelines for awaited approvals; changes in general economic conditions, and the financial markets; operating or technical difficulties in connection with exploration, development or mining; environmental risks; the risks of diminishing quantities or grades of reserves; and the Company's requirements for substantial additional funding.
Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Gabriel undertakes no obligation to update publicly or otherwise revise any forward-looking statements contained herein whether as a result of new information or future events or otherwise, except as may be required by law.