SOURCE: Great Western Minerals Group

Great Western Minerals Group

March 20, 2014 18:32 ET

Great Western Minerals Group Reports Year-End 2013 Results and Provides Project Update

Company to Streamline Operations by Closing Subsidiary, Great Western Technologies Inc.

SASKATOON, SK--(Marketwired - Mar 20, 2014) -  Great Western Minerals Group Ltd. ("GWMG" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE: GWG) (OTCQX: GWMGF), a leader in the manufacture and supply of rare earth element-based metals and metal alloys and holder of a low cost, high-grade critical rare earth asset (the "Steenkampskraal Project" or "SKK"), today released its fourth quarter and full year financial results through December 31, 2013, and provided an update on the Company's activities. 

Highlights and Results:

  • Strong top line performance: fourth quarter revenue increased more than 86% to $5.2 million over the prior-year period on strong alloy sales as a result of increased manufacturing capacity and enhanced capabilities. For the full-year 2013 period, revenue increased 10.8% to $17.4 million. Company revenue was primarily attributable to its production subsidiary Less Common Metals Limited ("LCM").
  • SKK Feasibility Study progressing well: Company plans to take a few extra weeks to perform value engineering to optimize capital expenditure requirements for the SKK project. Expect to report results of the study by May 1, 2014.
  • Advanced corporate-wide objectives and strategy: monthly cash outlays were significantly reduced with aggressive expense management and a continued focus on core assets, which was further supported with the executed joint venture agreement on the Hoidas Lake project and the planned closing of Great Western Technologies Inc. ("GWTI").

Marc LeVier, Company President and CEO, commented, "2013 and the start of this year can be described as a period of measurable change and progress. We have reduced costs and focused our efforts and resources on the work that will support our mine to metals strategy. Our efforts have put the work process in proper sequence to advance the project and provide for long term success."

Mr. LeVier added, "We are starting to see the benefits of our capacity and capability enhancements at LCM with increased customer orders. At SKK, we laid out an aggressive plan to get us on the path toward production and have been successful in advancing our objectives. We completed a new NI 43-101 compliant technical report and upgraded mineral resource estimate, optimized the metallurgical process, completed a successful mini-pilot plant test, and the SKK Feasibility Study is in the final stages of review efforts. We believe we have the right-sized operation and right-sized business model to succeed." 

Manufacturing Services

Manufacturing services revenue was $5.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, an 86.2%, or $2.4 million, increase from the same period in the prior year as higher volumes more than offset declining alloy prices. A slow-down in sales near the end of 2012, as customers prepared for price decreases, also contributed to the year-over-year change. In the recent quarter, the Company sold 85 metric tonnes of alloys compared with 37 metric tonnes of alloys for the same period in 2012. The increase was primarily due to the Company being able to sell bulk quantities of strip-cast alloys following full qualification with key customers in 2013. Fourth quarter gross margin improved to $0.8 million, or 15.9% of sales, from $0.3 million, or 10.8% of sales, in the fourth quarter of 2012. The increase was due to the leverage on higher volume and specialty alloy sales during the period which have historically been at higher margins.

For the full-year 2013 period, the Company had revenue of $17.4 million, an increase of 10.8% over the 2012 period, which reflects 284 metric tonnes of alloys sold compared with 198 metric tonnes in 2012. The Company's gross margin remained relatively constant at $4.4 million in 2013 compared with $4.3 million in 2012, though as a percentage of revenue, gross margin declined to 25.6% from 27.1% in the prior-year period. The margin contraction was due to lower alloy prices. 

The manufacturing services segment generated a loss of $2.9 million in 2013 compared with a loss of $1.9 million in 2012. The change was mostly attributable to an increase in depreciation and amortization of $0.7 million as a result of the new LCM facility and furnaces that were put into production, and an impairment of property, plant and equipment of $0.2 million related to redundant assets at LCM. 

Alloy volumes are anticipated to increase over the prior years now that the new furnaces at LCM are fully commissioned and customers expand their orders, although growth will continue to be limited by the Company's ability to obtain the necessary rare earth materials at competitive pricing. Once the SKK project has commenced production, the Company expects this limitation will be removed.

The Company will be discontinuing the operations of its GWTI business unit located in Troy, Michigan, and will attempt to liquidate the assets in the coming months. 

Mr. LeVier added, "The Board and management team have been conducting an extensive review to identify inefficiencies in our operations in order to lower our overhead and capital outlays. GWTI has struggled with losses and, given our strong position with LCM, the Board felt this action was prudent and an important step that will eliminate redundancy and better streamline the organization for improved efficiencies." 

The GWMG Board of Directors approved the closing and redundant asset liquidation on March 20, 2014. 

Steenkampskraal Project

The Company expended $7.6 million in 2013 on various technical studies, mine site exploration and evaluation investigations, the October 2013 Resource Estimate, finalization of the PEA, the final phase of infill drilling and underground sample collection for higher density resource data, development of a robust structural geology model, metallurgical test works, and commencement of the SKK Feasibility Study. Comparatively, in 2012, GWMG expended $10.8 million predominantly on exploratory drilling and various technical studies. 

During the year, GWMG also initiated exploration activities on an approximately 55,000 hectare prospecting right surrounding the SKK Project. Work included geologic mapping, ten channel sample lines crossing monazite veins in historic trenches for a total of 126 rock samples and 49 quality control samples, ground radiometric surveys and a combined airborne high-resolution magnetic and radiometric geophysical survey of the area. Geophysical and geological interpretation of the radiometric survey data along with preliminary evaluation of assay results have identified several anomalies that may be related to REE mineralization.

The October 2013 Resource Estimate, which is one of the foundations for the SKK Feasibility Study, increased the Measured and Indicated mineral resources to 86,900 tonnes total rare earth oxides including yttrium oxide (16,600 tonnes Measured and 70,300 tonnes Indicated) and upgraded a significant amount of the December 2012 Resource Estimate from the Indicated and Inferred categories to the Measured and Indicated categories. 

The Company is currently evaluating a variety of funding options as well as alternatives to reduce capital outlays. This includes evaluating toll separation alternatives to defer certain upfront capital costs and shorten timelines. Until such time as the funding is secured, the Company will manage its current cash position to best support key lines of progress at the SKK project.

Liquidity

The Company's cash and cash equivalent position at December 31, 2013 was $23.6 million compared with $28.3 million at September 30, 2013. The Company continues to take a prudent approach to expense management and has significantly reduced its monthly cash outlays following various operational efficiency initiatives. During the first half of 2013, GWMG averaged cash outlays of approximately $3.0 million per month. This significantly improved to $1.8 million during the second half of 2013. 

The Company believes that its current capital level will allow it to perform certain compliance work, undertake necessary engineering and technical studies to complete the SKK feasibility study and make its scheduled interest payments for 2014. 

Qualified Persons

Victor-Mark Fitzmaurice, Pr. Eng. M. Engineering (Mining), Managing Director of Rare Earth Extraction Co. Limited and Steenkampskraal Monazite Mine (Pty) Ltd. and Brent C. Jellicoe, B.Sc. (Hon.), P.Geo., Chief Geologist for Steenkampskraal Monazite Mine (Pty) Ltd., are the Qualified Persons (as defined in NI 43-101) responsible for supervising the preparation of the technical content of this news release.

Teleconference and Webcast

The Company will host a conference call and webcast to review its results, key market initiatives and business strategy on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. ET. A question-and-answer session will follow. 

The conference call can be accessed by calling (201) 689-8471. The live listen-only audio webcast can be monitored on the Company's website at www.gwmg.ca, where it will be archived afterwards, along with a transcript once available. 

A telephonic replay will be available from 2:00 p.m. ET the day of the teleconference until Friday, March 28, 2014. To listen to the archived call, dial (858) 384-5517 and enter replay pin number 13577672. 

About GWMG
Great Western Minerals Group Ltd. is a leader in the manufacture and supply of rare earth element-based metals and metal alloys. Its specialty alloys are used in the battery, magnet and aerospace industries. Produced at the Company's wholly-owned subsidiary, Less Common Metals Limited in Ellesmere Port, U.K., these alloys contain transition metals, including nickel, cobalt, iron and other rare earth elements. As part of the Company's vertical integration strategy, GWMG also holds 100% equity ownership in Rare Earth Extraction Co. Limited, which controls the Steenkampskraal monazite mine in South Africa. The Company also holds interests in three rare earth exploration properties in North America that are not active.

The Company routinely posts news and other information on its website at www.gwmg.ca.

Email inquiries can also be made to info@gwmg.ca.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Cautionary Statement 

Certain information set out in this News Release constitutes forward-looking information. Forward-looking statements (often, but not always, identified by the use of words such as "expect", "may", "could", "anticipate" or "will" and similar expressions) may describe expectations, opinions or guidance that are not statements of fact and which may be based upon information provided by third parties. Forward-looking statements are based upon the opinions, expectations and estimates of management of GWMG as at the date the statements are made and are subject to a variety of known and unknown risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or outcomes to differ materially from those anticipated or implied by such forward-looking statements. Those factors include, but are not limited to the assumptions and estimates in the October 2013 resource estimate and the preliminary economic assessment of the Steenkampskraal project proving to be accurate over time; the construction, commissioning and operation of the proposed monazite processing facility and separation facility within estimated parameters; mine refurbishment activities; reliance on third parties to meet projected timelines and commencement of production at Steenkampskraal; risks related to the receipt of all required approvals including those relating to the commencement of production at the Steenkampskraal mine, delays in obtaining permits, licenses and operating authorities in Canada, South Africa and China, environmental matters, water and land use risks; risks associated with the industry in general, commodity prices and exchange rate changes, operational risks associated with exploration, development and production operations, delays or changes in plans, including those estimated in the preliminary economic assessment of the Steenkampskraal project; risks associated with the uncertainty of resource estimates; health and safety risks; uncertainty of estimates and projections of production, costs and expenses; risks that future Steenkampskraal and region exploration results may not meet exploration or corporate objectives; the adequacy of the Company's financial resources and the availability of additional cash from operations or from financing on reasonable terms or at all; political risks inherent in South Africa and China; risks associated with the relationship between GWMG and/or its subsidiaries and communities and governments in Canada and South Africa, radioactivity and related issues, dependence on one mineral project; loss of, and the inability to attract, key personnel; the factors discussed in the Company's public disclosure record; and other factors that could cause actions, events or results not to be as anticipated. In light of the risks and uncertainties associated with forward-looking statements, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance upon forward-looking information. Although GWMG believes that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements set out in this press release or incorporated herein by reference are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to have been correct. Except as required by law, GWMG does not assume any obligation to update forward looking statements as set out in this news release. The forward-looking statements of GWMG contained in this News Release, or incorporated herein by reference, are expressly qualified, in their entirety, by this cautionary statement and the risk factors contained in GWMG's Annual Information Form available at www.sedar.com.

 
GREAT WESTERN MINERALS GROUP LTD.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF FINANCIAL POSITION
 ($ in CAD)
 
    As at  
    December 31     December 31  
    2013     2012  
          Recast  
Assets                
Cash and cash equivalents   $ 23,573,586     $ 52,095,448  
Accounts receivable     3,855,444       2,365,880  
Inventories     4,121,182       4,199,561  
Escrow account     -       7,163,280  
Deposits and prepaid expenses     1,991,582       837,315  
Current assets     33,541,794       66,661,484  
                 
Property, plant and equipment     20,677,727       16,388,314  
Exploration and evaluation assets     15,233,227       17,624,225  
Intangible assets     668,431       749,814  
Goodwill     2,323,426       2,132,431  
Non-current assets     38,902,811       36,894,784  
                 
Total assets   $ 72,444,605     $ 103,556,268  
                 
Liabilities                
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities     7,398,668       11,220,369  
Current portion of provisions     2,188,963       1,065,175  
Current liabilities     9,587,631       12,285,544  
                 
Provisions     1,971,899       3,287,136  
Convertible bonds - debt     65,824,047       55,810,316  
Convertible bonds - embedded conversion option     -       7,047,954  
Non-current liabilities     67,795,946       66,145,406  
                 
Shareholders' equity / (deficit)                
Share capital     111,747,305       111,747,305  
Warrants     11,702,153       11,817,308  
Share based payments reserve     10,908,496       10,274,967  
Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss)     (6,192,722 )     (5,020,099 )
Deficit     (133,104,204 )     (103,694,163 )
                 
Total shareholders' equity / (deficit)     (4,938,972 )     25,125,318  
                 
Total liabilities and shareholders' equity   $ 72,444,605     $ 103,556,268  
 
 
 
GREAT WESTERN MINERALS GROUP LTD.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME (LOSS)
 ($ in CAD)
 
    For the three months ended     For the years ended  
    December 31,     December 31,  
    2013     2012     2013     2012  
          Recast           Recast  
                                 
Sales   $ 5,193,526     $ 2,789,613     $ 17,385,056     $ 15,687,298  
Cost of sales     4,366,563       2,487,218       12,941,697       11,435,785  
Gross margin     826,963       302,395       4,443,359       4,251,513  
Operating Expenses                                
  General and administration     150,327       1,258,745       3,776,047       4,109,182  
  Wages and benefits     1,694,610       4,186,612       7,428,157       9,071,977  
  Stock based compensation     (107,695 )     (426,806 )     633,529       2,109,921  
  Professional fees     202,898       689,539       1,885,563       2,640,732  
  Investor relations     51,922       189,584       227,049       369,706  
  Occupancy     1,020,873       1,427,530       2,642,684       2,876,508  
  Depreciation and amortization     640,251       142,855       1,750,362       875,137  
  Exploration and evaluation     1,541,859       3,173,050       7,720,713       12,364,859  
  Property research     -       124,498       -       154,647  
  Impairment of property, plant and equipment     83,203       1,204,702       236,690       6,469,890  
  Exchange loss     1,481,306       269,949       1,982,704       21,458  
      6,759,554       12,240,258       28,283,498       41,064,017  
Other                                
  Interest expense and finance costs     (3,671,249 )     (3,076,497 )     (12,866,488 )     (10,359,682 )
  Interest income     (34,223 )     116,635       104,040       262,061  
  Gain on conversion option     130,114       15,561,981       7,047,954       26,528,477  
  Other income (expense)     11,638       (7,913 )     33,636       147,036  
(Loss) Income before income taxes     (9,496,311 )     656,343       (29,520,997 )     (20,234,612 )
Income tax recovery (expense)     (4,199 )     802,976       110,956       715,929  
                                 
Net Income (loss)   $ (9,500,510 )   $ 1,459,319     $ (29,410,041 )   $ (19,518,683 )
                                 
Other comprehensive income (loss):                                
Items that may be reclassified to profit and loss:                                
Translation adjustment     970,388       (478,201 )     (1,172,623 )     (2,114,079 )
Other comprehensive income (loss)     970,388       (478,201 )     (1,172,623 )     (2,114,079 )
                                 
Total comprehensive income (loss)     (8,530,122 )     981,118       (30,582,664 )     (21,632,762 )
                                 
Basic and fully diluted income (loss) per share   $ (0.023 )   $ 0.003     $ (0.070 )   $ (0.047 )
Weighted average number of shares outstanding     418,738,174       418,564,261       418,738,174       416,470,712  
 
 
 
GREAT WESTERN MINERALS GROUP LTD.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS
 ($ in CAD)
 
    For the years ended  
    December 31,  
    2013     2012  
          Recast  
Cash provided by (used in)                
Operating activities                
Net loss for the year   $ (29,410,041 )   $ (19,518,683 )
Adjustment for:                
  Depreciation and amortization     1,750,362       875,137  
  Stock based compensation     633,529       2,109,921  
  Finance costs     12,866,488       10,359,682  
  Gain on conversion options     (7,047,954 )     (26,528,477 )
  Impairment of property, plant & equipment     236,690       6,469,890  
  Loss on disposal of property, plant & equipment     2,063       5,149  
  Impairment of inventory     249,457       466,302  
  Gain on Vaaldiam Mining shares     -       (108,261 )
Income tax recovery     (110,956 )     (715,929 )
Income tax received (paid)     122,273       (234,841 )
Other operating items     (4,750,180 )     5,213,380  
      (25,458,269 )     (21,606,730 )
Investing activities                
Property, plant and equipment     (5,243,987 )     (11,316,398 )
Proceeds on sale of Vaaldiam Mining shares     -       159,405  
Proceeds on sale of property, plant and equipment     160,422       15,739  
Interest received     104,040       262,061  
      (4,979,525 )     (10,879,193 )
Financing activities                
Issuance of share capital, net of issuance costs     -       913,908  
Interest paid     (7,397,833 )     (3,813,551 )
Issuance of convertible bonds, net of issue costs     -       83,405,896  
Net change in amounts in escrow     7,163,280       (7,163,280 )
      (234,553 )     73,342,973  
                 
Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents during the year     (30,672,347 )     40,857,050  
                 
Exchange rate changes on foreign currency cash balances     2,150,485       308,190  
Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of year     52,095,448       10,930,208  
                 
Cash and cash equivalents, end of year   $ 23,573,586     $ 52,095,448  

Contact Information

  • For more information contact:
    Investor Relations:
    Deborah K. Pawlowski
    716.843.3908
    Email Contact

    Craig P. Mychajluk
    716.843.3832
    Email Contact