Ascendant Resources Announces Q1 2018 Production Results Highlighting Growing Metal Production With Improved Zinc Grades
- Record contained metal production of 21.4 million ZnEq lbs, an increase of 9% over Q4 2017 and 57% over Q1 2017
- ZnEq grade of 6.1%, representing an increase of 15% over 5.3% ZnEq in Q4 2017 and 9% over Q1 2017
- Cash balance of US$13.1 million at March 31, 2018 vs US$8.0 million at year end 2017
- Quarterly tonnes milled of 186,955 vs 198,354 tonnes in Q4 2017 and 131,116 in Q1 2017
TORONTO, April 17, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ascendant Resources Inc. (TSX:ASND) (OTCQX:ASDRF) (FRA:2D9) ("Ascendant" or the "Company”) announces production results from its El Mochito mine for the first quarter of 2018 demonstrating its continued production improvements highlighted by an average head grade of 6.1% ZnEq, which is a significant improvement over the fourth quarter average head grade of 5.3% ZnEq, and a strong closing cash balance of US$13.1 million as at March 31, 2018. Contained metal production for the quarter was 21.4 million ZnEq lbs, an increase of 9% over the fourth quarter 2017 and 57% over the first quarter 2017.
Q1 2018 Operational Performance
During the first quarter of 2018, Ascendant produced record contained zinc equivalent metal production of 21.4 million ZnEq lbs, compared to 19.6 million ZnEq lbs in the fourth quarter of 2017 and 13.7 million lbs in the first quarter of 2017. This is Ascendant’s fifth consecutive quarter of production increases. Zinc grades showed a significant improvement through the quarter increasing by 14% from 3.7% zinc in Q4 2017 to 4.2% zinc in Q1 2018. Lead and silver grades similarly showed an increase of 16% and 34 g/t respectively to 1.6% lead and 46 g/t silver from the fourth quarter of 2017.
Increased control of dilution and a firm focus on mining less sub-grade material in most areas of the mine drove the substantial increase in head grades. Notably, mining from the relatively higher-grade Esperanza orebody accelerated in the first quarter with the completion of development at its first long hole stope. The success at Esperanza was partially offset by higher than expected internal dilution experienced in the Nueva Este long 23L hole stope, which has now been depleted.
Milled production for the quarter was 186,955, compared to fourth quarter 2017 of 198,354, representing a slight decrease of 6%. The mill encountered a number of small stoppages due to wet ore and large rocks impacting the vibrating screen and cone crusher. Overall, throughput rates continue to trend higher as additional new equipment continues to be introduced into the mining fleet and new lower cost long hole stopes constitute more of total production. The remainder of the new equipment is expected to arrive by mid-2018, completing the full underground fleet replacement program that commenced in the second quarter 2017.
Recovery rates have improved returning to levels seen earlier in 2017. Management expect tonnes processed and ore grades to trend higher during the course of the year.
Operational performance for Q1 2018 relative to 2017 is provided in the table below:
|Average Head Grade||Zinc||%||4.2||%||3.7||%||3.5||%||3.4||%||3.4||%|
|Zinc equivalent grade*||%||6.1||%||5.3||%||5.4||%||5.5||%||5.6||%|
|Contained Metal Production||Zinc||000's lbs||15,301||14,133||12,100||9,933||8,888|
|Zinc equivalent metal*||000's lbs||21,412||19,576||17,495||15,377||13,672|
|*Calculated from average Q1 2018 realised metal prices of US$1.55/lb for zinc, US$1.14 for lead, and US$16.72 Ag for silver|
President and CEO Chris Buncic stated: “In the first quarter we continued to build upon our successful operational turnaround at the El Mochito mine. The team has demonstrated a greater understanding of the ore body, mine plan and plant, and continues to show adaptability and improved operational efficiencies. We are very pleased to have been able to deliver strong growth in payable pounds on a metal basis and exit the quarter with over $13 million in cash, putting us on track for our EBITDA and free cash flow generation projections for 2018.”
He continued, “The new NI 43-101 reserve and resource estimate announced on April 10, 2018 gives us great confidence in the ability of the El Mochito mine to deliver a long and successful future as indicated by the seven-year mine life in Reserves. In the second quarter we look forward to incorporating this significant resource growth while continuing to improve operations and deliver on further free cash flow generation and improved contribution margins.”
First Quarter 2018 Conference Call
Ascendant plans to release first quarter 2018 financial results after market close on May 9, 2018. A conference call will be held on May 10, 2018, at 10:00am EST to discuss first quarter 2018 operational and financial results.
Conference Call Details:
Date of Call: Thursday, May 10, 2018
Time of Call: 10:00am EST
Conference ID: 9029578
North American Toll-Free: 1-833-696-8362
A recorded playback of the call will be available from 1:00pm EST on May 10, 2018 until 1:00pm EST on June 9, 2018 by dialing: 1-855-859-2056 or 1-404-537-3406 and entering the call back passcode 9029578.
About Ascendant Resources Inc.
Ascendant is a Toronto-based mining company focused on its 100%-owned producing El Mochito zinc, silver and lead mine in west-central Honduras, which has been in production since 1948. After acquiring the mine in December 2016, Ascendant implemented a rigorous optimization program aimed at restoring the historic potential of the El Mochito mine. In 2017, the Company successfully completed the operational turnaround it set out to achieve with sustained production at record levels and profitability restored. The Company now remains focused on cost reduction and further operational improvements to drive robust free cash flow in 2018 and beyond. Ascendant is also focused on expanding and upgrading known resources through extensive exploration work for near-term growth. With a significant land package of 11,000 hectares and an abundance of historical data there are several regional targets providing longer term exploration upside which could lead to further resource growth. The Company is also engaged in the evaluation of producing and development stage mineral resource opportunities, on an ongoing basis. The Company's common shares are principally listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "ASND". For more information on Ascendant Resources, please visit our website at www.ascendantresources.com.
Neither the Toronto Stock Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
For further information please contact:
Director, Communications & Investor Relations
Cautionary Notes to US Investors
The information concerning the Company’s mineral properties has been prepared in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 (“NI-43-101”) adopted by the Canadian Securities Administrators. In accordance with NI-43-101, the terms “mineral reserves”, “proven mineral reserve”, “probable mineral reserve”, “mineral resource”, “measured mineral resource”, “indicated mineral resource” and “inferred mineral resource” are defined in the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (the “CIM”) Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves adopted by the CIM Council on May 10, 2014. While the terms “mineral resource”, “measured mineral resource”, “indicated mineral resource” and “inferred mineral resource” are recognized and required by NI 43-101, the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (“SEC”) does not recognize them. The reader is cautioned that, except for that portion of mineral resources classified as mineral reserves, mineral resources do not have demonstrated economic value. Inferred mineral resources have a high degree of uncertainty as to their existence and as to whether they can be economically or legally mined. It cannot be assumed that all or any part of any inferred mineral resource will ever be upgraded to a higher category. Therefore, the reader is cautioned not to assume that all or any part of an inferred mineral resource exists, that it can be economically or legally mined, or that it will ever be upgraded to a higher category. Likewise, you are cautioned not to assume that all or any part of a measured or indicated mineral resource will ever be upgraded into mineral reserves.
Readers should be aware that the Company’s financial statements (and information derived therefrom) have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”) as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board and are subject to Canadian auditing and auditor independence standards. IFRS differs in some respects from United States generally accepted accounting principles and thus the Company’s financial statements (and information derived therefrom) may not be comparable to those of United States companies.
Forward Looking Information
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" and "forward-looking information" (collectively, "forward-looking information") within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. All information contained in this news release, other than statements of current and historical fact, is forward-looking information. Often, but not always, forward-looking information can be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects", "budget", "guidance", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "strategy", "target", "intends", "objective", "goal", "understands", "anticipates" and "believes" (and variations of these or similar words) and statements that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "should", "might" "occur" or "be achieved" or "will be taken" (and variations of these or similar expressions). Forward-looking information is also identifiable in statements of currently occurring matters which may continue in the future, such as "providing the Company with", "is currently", "allows/allowing for", "will advance" or "continues to" or other statements that may be stated in the present tense with future implications. All of the forward-looking information in this news release is qualified by this cautionary note.
Forward-looking information in this news release includes, but is not limited to, statements regarding the consistency of processing recovery levels, improvements of grades in 2018, deployment of new mining equipment, increase in contained metal production, maintenance of production rates, increase of mill feed grades, reduction of costs, monthly shipments of concentrate, the ability to fully fund planned development, exploration and capital expenditures, completion of an NI 43-101 report and the undertaking of various long-term optimization programs. Forward-looking information is not, and cannot be, a guarantee of future results or events. Forward-looking information is based on, among other things, opinions, assumptions, estimates and analyses that, while considered reasonable by Ascendant at the date the forward-looking information is provided, inherently are subject to significant risks, uncertainties, contingencies and other factors that may cause actual results and events to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking information. The material factors or assumptions that Ascendant identified and were applied by Ascendant in drawing conclusions or making forecasts or projections set out in the forward-looking information include, but are not limited to, the ability of the Company to maintain the consistency of processing recovery levels, to improve grades in 2018, to deploy new mining equipment, increase contained metal production, maintain production rates, increase mill feed grades, reduce costs, make monthly shipments of concentrate, fully fund planned development, exploration and capital expenditures, complete an NI 43-101 report and undertake various long-term optimization programs and other events that may affect Ascendant's ability to develop its project; and no significant and continuing adverse changes in general economic conditions or conditions in the financial markets.
The risks, uncertainties, contingencies and other factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking information may include, but are not limited to, risks generally associated with the mining industry, such as economic factors (including future commodity prices, currency fluctuations, energy prices and general cost escalation), uncertainties related to the development and operation of Ascendant's projects, dependence on key personnel and employee and union relations, risks related to political or social unrest or change, rights and title claims, operational risks and hazards, including unanticipated environmental, industrial and geological events and developments and the inability to insure against all risks, failure of plant, equipment, processes, transportation and other infrastructure to operate as anticipated, compliance with government and environmental regulations, including permitting requirements and anti-bribery legislation, volatile financial markets that may affect Ascendant's ability to obtain additional financing on acceptable terms, the failure to obtain required approvals or clearances from government authorities on a timely basis, uncertainties related to the geology, continuity, grade and estimates of mineral reserves and resources, and the potential for variations in grade and recovery rates, uncertain costs of reclamation activities, tax refunds, hedging transactions, as well as the risks discussed in Ascendant's most recent Annual Information Form on file with the Canadian provincial securities regulatory authorities and available at www.sedar.com.
Should one or more risk, uncertainty, contingency, or other factor materialize, or should any factor or assumption prove incorrect, actual results could vary materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking information. Accordingly, the reader should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. Ascendant does not assume any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information after the date of this news release or to explain any material difference between subsequent actual events and any forward-looking information, except as required by applicable law.