NEVSUN Resources Ltd. (TSX:NSU / NYSE MKT:NSU) announces its 2015 corporate objectives including copper production and capital allocation guidance for the Company.
The Bisha Mine, operated by Nevsun’s sixty percent owned subsidiary Bisha Mining Share Company (BMSC) is one of the highest grade open pit base metal deposits in the world and has a mine life currently in excess of 10 years. All financial figures are in US dollars.
Cliff Davis, Nevsun’s CEO commented,
“Following a very strong 2014 year from both an operating and financial perspective, Nevsun is looking forward to another year of exceptional production with strong free cash flow and earnings from Bisha in 2015. For organic growth, we plan to aggressively explore the Bisha VMS district to again further expand our resources and reserves. In addition and in parallel, we are actively evaluating potential merger or acquisition opportunities to grow and diversify Nevsun cash flow.”
> Maintain top quartile safety performance and social license to operate
> Produce 160 to 175 million pounds of copper at a C1 cash costs of $1.20 to $1.40 per pound payable
> Extend the Bisha mine life through exploration and optimize mine plan
> Keep zinc expansion project on-time and on-budget for H1 2016 commissioning
> Opportunistically monetize stockpiled gold ore
> Continue to pay peer leading dividends
> Continue to pursue M&A opportunities supported by our strong balance sheet
Safety is priority number one. In 2014 Bisha completed a third year of operations, cumulatively approximately 22 million hours, without an on-site lost time injury for employees or contractors. Nevsun will strive to maintain its top quartile safety performance and work towards maintaining lost time injury rates that are much less than the North American mining industry average.
Corporate Social Responsibility
We are in the process of preparing our 2014 CSR report and it will include detailed disclosure on key strategies we employ and the key metrics we use to monitor progress in this area. BMSC will continue its ongoing efforts to provide training at its Bisha operations, employment opportunities and localization in Eritrea to promote and enhance our collective corporate social responsibility program initiatives to reflect evolving international standards.
Copper Production and Cost Guidance
BMSC expects to produce between 160 and 175 million pounds of copper in concentrate in 2015 through processing of approximately 2,300,000 tonnes of ore from Bisha Main pit averaging about 3.9 percent copper feed grade. We expect our C1 cash cost for 2015 will be $1.20 to $1.40 per payable pound sold. Our budget assumptions include diesel fuel prices of $1.13 per litre and by-product revenues based on $1,100 per ounce of gold and $15 per ounce of silver, however we now expect there is opportunity to improve on these assumptions.
Mine Life Extension and Optimization
As a result of the successful regional exploration program in 2014, the Company plans to announce a revised mineral resource estimate in coming weeks. The primary change to the current estimate will be based on the southern down-dip drilling at the Harena deposit announced over the last half of 2014. We are also preparing a revised life of mine plan by Q3 2015, which will include underground mining scenarios for the future.
Zinc Expansion Project and Other Investment
The zinc expansion remains on track for commissioning by mid-2016. We are confident the total capital costs will not exceed the budget estimate of $89 million. Our sustaining capital expenditures are expected to be $20 to $30 million. The Company has made a strategic decision to increase the capacity of the mining fleet to mitigate any potential risk on waste mining and to provide us with greater flexibility to increase tonnes mined in future years should zinc prices increase.
A further $10 million in exploration investment is planned for 2015. Key 2015 exploration objectives, which will be prioritized on a success basis for additional work include:
> Expanding and upgrading the resource at Harena through drilling and down-hole geophysics;
> Drilling high priority targets at depth and on strike from Bisha Main; and
> Continued testing of high priority greenfield targets on the Mogoraib River exploration licence.
We expect to drill in excess of 25,000 metres during the year.
The Company has considerable additional value held in stockpiles to be monetized. This includes 6,500 tonnes of precious metals concentrate containing about 7,000 ounces of gold with high silver content. The Company has also mined and stockpiled over 130,000 tonnes of oxide ore at over 5 g/t Au containing over 20,000 ounces of gold, and nearly 400,000 tonnes of pyrite sand ore that is estimated to contain over 60,000 ounces of gold with significant silver content. The Company is finalising alternative methods to monetize these assets in 2015.
The dividend was recently increased to $0.04 per quarter or $0.16 annualized, for holders of record on the last trading day of each quarter, payable on or about the 15th day of the following month.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Nevsun continues to dedicate significant management time and effort to external growth. The Company’s approach to M&A is based on capital discipline and staying true to our commitment of generating a financial return on investment for shareholders that will allow us to maintain or grow our dividend in the future.