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Executives

Morgan Tyghe

Wade K. Dawe - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Daniel Racine - President and Chief Operating Officer

Jon Legatto - Chief Financial Officer

Howard M. Bird - Senior Vice President of Exploration

Analysts

Don M. Blyth - Paradigm Capital, Inc., Research Division

Peter S. Campbell - Jennings Capital Inc., Research Division

Richard Gray - Cormark Securities Inc., Research Division

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Brigus Gold Corp (BRD) Q3 2013 Earnings Call November 13, 2013 11:00 AM ET

Operator

Greetings, and welcome to the Brigus Gold Third Quarter 2013 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Morgan Tyghe. Ms. Tyghe, you may begin.

Morgan Tyghe

Thank you, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us for the third quarter conference call. Joining me from Brigus Gold are Wade Dawe, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Daniel Racine, President and Chief Operating Officer; Jon Legatto, Chief Financial Officer; Howard Bird, Senior Vice President of Exploration; and Marc Bilodeau, our VP of operations.

Brigus' third quarter's earnings release was distributed yesterday evening at 5 pm via Newswire.

The financial statements and management discussion and analysis are available on the company's website at brigusgold.com. We expect this presentation segment to last approximately 10 minutes. After which, we'll be happy to take questions from analysts and institutional investors. Please note that all amounts are in U.S. dollars, unless otherwise stated.

I'll also take a moment to remind you that this conference call may contain forward-looking information, which involve certain assumptions and known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to materially differ from those that are expressed or implied by the comment. All statements regarding the ability of the company to achieve its production, total cash cost, all-in sustaining cost, steady-state annual production and mining rate estimates, exploration and capital programs to 2013 and beyond, including estimated expenditures, increases in gold production, variations in profitability, exploration drill results and resource additions are forward-looking statements and estimates that involve various risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements include or maybe based upon estimates, forecasts and statements to management's expectations with respect to, among other things, the issue of permit, the size and quality of the company's mineral resources, progress and development of mineral properties, future production, sales volumes, capital and mine production cost, demand and market outlook for metals, future metal prices and treatment and refining charges and the financial results of the company. Additional information with regards to risk can be found under the heading Risk Factors in our most recent management discussion and analysis. In addition, please note that this conference is being widely disseminated via live webcast.

I'll now turn the call over to Wade.

Wade K. Dawe

Thank you, Morgan. Good day, and welcome to Brigus' third quarter conference call. I will begin with a brief overview of our accomplishments during the third quarter. Daniel Racine will discuss progress on operations. Jon Legatto will summarize our third quarter earnings and financial results. And then, Howard Bird will review recent exploration success at both Black Fox and Grey Fox.

If you could turn to Slide 3. I would like to begin by congratulating our team on another successful quarter. This quarter, we increased production, while lowering costs. Most importantly, I'm very proud to say that as the quarter end, the Black Fox Mine and Mill achieved a total of 1,397 days or 4.5 million man hours without a loss time injury.

The Black Fox Mine continues to generate strong results. During the quarter, the company produced 27,174 ounces of gold, which is a 39% increase over the third quarter of 2012. With cash cost at $617 per ounce, and all-in sustaining cost of $992, we are well-positioned to be profitable in the current gold price environment.

The Brigus team worked hard and safely to achieve these results and continues to do an excellent job. We also had great exploration success recently. The upside potential of Black Fox has clearly been demonstrated with our new high-grade intercepts at depth. We look forward to releasing follow-up results to this new zone later in the quarter.

We continue to obtain positive results from our drilling program at Grey Fox as well. Since releasing the updated resource estimate in June, we've continued to expand the contact in 147 and the Grey Fox South Zones through systematic drilling. Brigus completed an additional 21,458 meters of drilling since the June 30th cutoff date. Approximately 46 drill holes were completed.

Initial reports from the metallurgical test work, which has been ongoing, have been favorable and we are confident that overall gold recoveries will exceed the 83% threshold that was previously reported. We decided to defer the release of the preliminary economic assessment for Grey Fox into quarter 2 of 2014 in order to complete this test work and thereby further enhance the overall project economics for Grey Fox.

Project economics are anticipated to be very favorable at current gold prices. Based on work completed to date, capital requirements to build the mine are estimated to be in the range of $70 million to $80 million. We are pleased with the results from both our operations and our financial results for the current quarter, and we are confident that 2013 will be a record year for the company. Brigus will be well-positioned for future growth in the years to come.

I'll now turn the call over to Daniel.

Daniel Racine

Thank you, Wade. Good morning, everyone. Could you please turn to Slide 4. As Wade mentioned, Brigus has achieved a number of key operational milestone in the quarter, which has positioned us for a record year of production in 2013.

For the quarter ending September 30, 2013, a total of 74,682 tonnes or 811 tonnes per day of ore were mined from the underground at an average grade of 6.69. The increase in the underground tonnes comes from continued production in the lower east and the west zone. Both zone have consistently provided good grade across a large widths. We are well on our way to achieve our goals of 1,000-tonne per day by the end of this year.

The open pit continue to operate successfully while producing 105,775 tonnes of ore, exclusive of low grade that we have stockpiled in Q3. We are now actively mining the third and final phase of the open pit.

The cost per tonne mined in the open pit was $2.47 and the cost per tonne mined in the underground was $83.

During the quarter, the Black Fox mill processed 207,559 tonnes of ore, with a recovery of 94%. The average mill grade for the open pit was 3.45 grams per tonne or 3.62 for the year-to-date.

The average mill grade for the underground 5.69, like I mentioned before, and the year-to-date were about 6.14 gram per tonne. We are now also processing low-grade ore from underground and that explain the difference between the two. Previously, this ore was going directly to waste pile, but now, it's sent to the mill.

As we've mentioned, safe production is our top priority for our company. As so many company are focusing on production and reducing cost, it is important to maintain high level of safety at all times. I'm very proud that our -- from our team accomplishment.

To conclude, our management team is committed to deliver strong operational performance, increasing production and managing operating costs. I'm confident, with that, we will have a place -- we will achieve our goals.

I will now turn the call over to Jon.

Jon Legatto

Thank you, Daniel. If I may direct everyone to Slide 5, please. Revenue for the 3 months ended September 30, 2013 totaled $36.9 million compared to $30.1 million in Q3 2012, an increase of 22%. The increase in revenue is a result of a 49% increase in the ounces sold, offset by an 18% decrease in the realized price per ounce. The number of ounces sold during the quarter increased due to higher production from the underground mine, which contributed to a higher overall head grade at the Black Fox mill.

During the 3 months ended September 30, 2013, 25,963 ounces of gold were sold at spot prices at an average realized price of $1,330 per ounce. The remaining 2,381 ounces were delivered against the Sandstorm gold stream agreement at an average realized price of $986 per ounce.

In the second quarter, we adopted the World Gold Council's recommendation for calculating all-in sustaining costs. All-in sustaining costs are calculated based on the total gold ounces sold and includes total cash costs, sustaining capital expenditures, corporate, general and administrative costs, including noncash share-based compensation and environmental rehabilitation costs. It does not include capital expenditures attributed to project or mine expansion, exploration and evaluation costs attributed to growth projects or interest costs.

All-in sustaining costs per ounce for the quarter were $992 compared to $1,649 in the third quarter of 2012. This represents a decrease of over 40%. The decrease is mostly due to lower mine development and sustaining capital expenditures. During the quarter, mine development and sustaining capital expenditures totaled $7.2 million or $253 per ounce of gold sold compared to $13 million or $680 per ounce for the same quarter in 2012.

Cash cost per ounce, which is the other major component of all in sustaining costs, were at an all-time low for the company of $617 per ounce. The company's cash balance as of September 30, 2013, totaled $21.1 million compared to $20.9 million at the end of the previous quarter.

Year-to-date, long-term debt has decreased by $10.2 million, shareholder equity has increased by $11.2 million. We have reviewed forecasted spending requirements for the next 12 months and have concluded that Brigus has sufficient capital to meet all operating and financial -- financing requirements over this period. The company is well-positioned to achieve our production guidance of 95 to 105 ounces of gold at a cash cost of between $650 and $700. We are committed to reducing cost and strengthening our balance sheet so that we can provide long-term stability and returns to our shareholders.

I will now turn the call over to Howard.

Howard M. Bird

Thank you, Jon. Good morning, everybody. Could you please go to Slide #6. During the third quarter, drilling continued at the Grey Fox property and 3 drill rigs will remain on site until the end of the year.

Recent highlights from the drilling program at the Contact Zone include 3.94 grams per tonne of gold over 36 meters, and 11.74 grams per tonne gold over 10 meters. I would also like to highlight the 3.12 gram per tonne over 34 meters, and 20.93 gram per tonne over 13.25 meters from the 147 Zone.

In July, we announced and updated NI 43-101 resource estimate from the 147 Contact and Grey Fox South zones. The resource estimated it included a constraining pit shell, which have not been included in the previous resource estimates. Highlights include a total of 507,400 indicated ounces, of which 255,000 relating to underground, and 252,400 relating to open pit, and 228,603 ounces, of which 184,800 relating to the underground, and 48,800 relating to the open pit.

The underground open pit cutoff grades were set at 2.84 grams per tonne and 0.72 grams per tonne, respectively. The 147 Contact and Grey Fox South zones all remain open for future expansion. Since we published the updated resource estimate in June of this year, we have drilled an additional 21,458 meters or 46 holes on the Grey Fox property. And as mentioned, drilling will continue with 3 rigs until the end of the year.

Now please, can you turn to Slide #7. Subsequent to quarter end, we released 2 high-grade gold intersections from underground drilling at Black Fox, both 645-34-W assayed 18.09 grams per tonne gold over 37.80 meters, including 39.45 grams per tonne gold over 10.35 meters. This 37.80 meter mineralized interceptors from our drill interval of 316.9 to 354.7 meters, and remains opened as the last sample at 354.7 meters graded 15.34 grams per tonne gold. Therefore, the full thickness of this high-grade interceptor is unknown at this time.

Hole 645-34-W intersected high-grade mineralization 30 meters to the west of 645-01-W, which assayed 40.71 grams per tonne gold over 26.75 meters, including 103.2 grams per tonne gold over 8.35 meters.

In light of these positive results, we have recommended underground exploration drilling at Black Fox. From now until yearend, we plan to drill approximately 12 to 13 holes. In Q1 2014, we plan to construct an exploration drift at the 500-meter level from which to continue the underground exploration drilling. This new drift will allow us to expand the Black Fox ore body at depth. The entire Black Fox ore body remains open in all directions and I look forward to sharing some more exciting exploration used with you in the coming weeks. Thank you.

And now, I'll turn you back to Wade.

Wade K. Dawe

Thank you, very much, Howard. Please turn to Slide #8. So to conclude, Brigus delivered consistently strong results for the first 3 quarters of 2013. Shareholder equity has increased, the company's long-term debt has decreased. We've invested in drilling at both Grey Fox and Black Fox, and our cash levels are stable. Our capital requirements continue to decline and they will decline further as we move into and through 2014. We are well on track to meet our production guidance of 95,000 to 105,000 ounces of gold at a per ounce cash cost of $650 to $700. As a result of our strong cash management practices, the company is well-positioned to deliver positive results even within the current gold price environment.

So that concludes our formal remarks. And we'd be pleased to take questions from analysts and institutional investors. Thank you.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Don Blyth with Paradigm Capital.

Don M. Blyth - Paradigm Capital, Inc., Research Division

It was nice to see some actual free cash flow. I will, I guess, I'll start off by continuing to make my request that if you could give a breakdown of what was milled in the quarter? You do give the mine, but what was actually milled between the open pit, underground and stockpiles? Nice to be able to actually balance our model there. Do you have those numbers handy by any chance?

Wade K. Dawe

We don't have those in front of us right now.

Don M. Blyth - Paradigm Capital, Inc., Research Division

Okay. I'll talk to you later. And secondly, the World Gold Council standard for the all-in sustaining cost definition actually does include the exploration study cost and corporate G&A and all of that. It's -- this AISC measure continues to be a bit muddy for investors and analysts alike, I would say. So I'd suggest maybe using different a different term or providing that sort of all-in, all-in sustaining costs. I think, you're good on either measure. But it still remains a little bit of a confusion, I'll just leave that as a comment. And then, finally, just with respect to the delay of the Grey Fox PEA, it's been my opinion that the deep Black Fox could be a superior project to the Grey Fox. Again, that will unfold as it unfolds over the coming months. But ultimately, the delay here won't affect the timing of the ultimate decision. You need to kind of get a replacement for the Black Fox open pit, or by the end of, say, by the end of 2016, so this will still allow you to keep up with that timing, correct?

Wade K. Dawe

Go ahead, Jon.

Jon Legatto

All right. Don, it's Jon Legatto here. And if you just wouldn't mind taking minutes to respond to your first comments there about some of the cost disclosures. We provide a reconciliation of how we calculated all-in sustaining costs in the MD&A on Page 11 as it is a non-GAAP measure, and I think that does provide transparency in terms of how we're calculating that, and we'll be consistent with the terminology for all-in sustaining costs per ounce. Yes, there are other measures in terms of all-in costs. And currently, we have reported that, but we'll evaluate that as people adopt in the future. But as I said, I think, the metrics that we have on any of those bases are all very positive and will continue to be so. So appreciate the comment and hopefully that disclosure that we do have in the MD&A, we hope you and others clarify exactly how we're arriving at those totals.

Daniel Racine

Don, to answer your question, it's Daniel. No, the delay of putting out the PEA, the PEA is complete, it's just because we got better results right now from the metallurgical test we're doing right now, those tests are not completed. So we didn't want to put out a PEA that will change. First, because better recovery. Second, because we have to drill more holes. And to answer your concern, yes, we need the Grey Fox to be ready by the end of 2016. And it will take 15 months to build a Grey Fox. So we don't need really to start building Grey Fox before the third quarter of 2015. We have a lot of time to decide what we want to do at Grey Fox. Saying that, as you know, we have already the permit to start to go underground tomorrow, but there's no rush to do so as we have more drilling to do and more depth.

Don M. Blyth - Paradigm Capital, Inc., Research Division

Excellent. And just to maybe a bit of a follow-up there, is it possible with this delay that you might actually just go directly to a pre-feasibility study level?

Daniel Racine

Yes, it's possible, depending on what will be the new resources calculated at the -- in February or at the end of this year. We might decide because the PEA level we have right now, it's almost at the standard of the 3. So maybe we'll decide to go there directly. We'll see after Christmas.

Wade K. Dawe

The other comment, Don, that I would add here is that the economic parameters and basically that we've received aid are all quite favorable. The project looks quite very good and hence, metallurgical recoveries, it will just get better. So we're quite pleased with everything that we've seen so far with Grey Fox, I would to say it looks quite good.

Don M. Blyth - Paradigm Capital, Inc., Research Division

Looks quite good and depends how good Howard is whether he can make something look even better at Black Fox deep.

Wade K. Dawe

The zones are still open. He continues to drill and he's adding -- definitely adding and extending the all 3 of the ore zones with the drilling that's ongoing.

Operator

Your next question comes from Peter Campbell with Jennings Capital.

Peter S. Campbell - Jennings Capital Inc., Research Division

I guess, my first question is for Howard. On these 2 new discovery holes, which looked very impressive. Looking at the long section that's provided with this conference call, it doesn't look like anything was really being chased up here. And I'm just kind of wondering what being the target of those holes was, why they were put where they were?

Howard M. Bird

Yes, thanks for your question there. The target was to the down plunge of the west side, so it's just on the other side of the pulp. So I'm going to put some deeper holes there to test the down plunge. But also, at the same time, I mean, it can tell us where that portion of the ore body is when we design our exploration drift that's 500 meters down so that we position it property as well. So it's...

Peter S. Campbell - Jennings Capital Inc., Research Division

So you were basically looking at putting some holes in for this exploration drift that you're putting in? Because there's quite a big space, shall I call it, between the bottom of the west side and where these 2 pierce points are.

Howard M. Bird

No, they were, I mean, simply test holes that are testing be down plunge of just finding it deeper down and that's all it was. So it's -- I mean, we hit the ore body deep down and it looks exactly deep down to what it is higher up, the only difference is that the grade is much better deeper down.

Peter S. Campbell - Jennings Capital Inc., Research Division

Very nice grade. So what you reckon is in between the like bottom extent of the west side versus these 2 pierce points. It doesn't look like it's terribly well-drilled. I mean, obviously, this is a schematic diagram, but do you have many holes in between there?

Howard M. Bird

No, I mean, the ore body was basically drilled up for a 10-year mine life from 0 down to about 500 meters. So there's very few deep holes and these are 2 of the very few down there. So it's -- and these are the deepest holes.

Peter S. Campbell - Jennings Capital Inc., Research Division

Yes. So you could start chasing that back up towards the bottom of the west end, is that correct?

Howard M. Bird

Yes, exactly. That's what the current drilling is doing. I mean, we are expanding that and chasing it back up plunge.

Peter S. Campbell - Jennings Capital Inc., Research Division

Okay. My final question is with this deep zone, what do you reckon with you current mining method, your current infrastructure, like how far down could you economically mine in the current gold price environment?

Daniel Racine

We're mining right now around 450-meter level. There's no problem to go down to where the 2 holes are with the actual infrastructure we have. We have a big huge ramp that can handle a lot of tonnage. We'll just hopefully need more equipment. But that's it. There's no problem to get there. Unlike Howard mentioned, we're drilling both hole right now to try to put that in between the west zone and those 2 holes. And if you look at that section, we have put -- you can see it's very close to our actual infrastructure on the east side of the mine.

Peter S. Campbell - Jennings Capital Inc., Research Division

Yes. So even though this looks like it's an extension down plunge from the west side, you're going to go after it from the east side, is that correct?

Daniel Racine

Correct. Because the ore body is plunging towards the east at this very shallow angle. So this is why it looks like -- it's a lot closer than the east actually.

Operator

Our next question comes from Richard Gray with Cormark Securities.

Richard Gray - Cormark Securities Inc., Research Division

Just a couple more questions on the Grey Fox. What -- if you put out the PEA in Q2, what permits will you need between then and say, Q3 of '15 to go into full construction mode?

Daniel Racine

Construction permit and the full mining permit. But the full mining permit, you can get it within the 15 months that you're starting. So when you start the ramp going down, you can have the permit and there's no issue to get it before you start mining. And with the actual permit, we can go underground, do all the development and even start to extract 10,000 tonnes.

Richard Gray - Cormark Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. So the PEA isn't a big catalyst for the permitting, it's just...

Howard M. Bird

Not at all.

Daniel Racine

Okay. And I just want to confirm that when you throw out that $70 million to $80 million CapEx, that's under the assumption that this is just underground and there will be no mill upgrade or expansion, correct?

Daniel Racine

Exactly. Just some mill upgrade but it's little amount of money. Most of the capital will be spent on the ramp and then getting ready to mine.

Richard Gray - Cormark Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. And just 1 last 1 on Black Fox. These 12 to 15 holes you're drilling now, is that going to be enough to wrap any kind of resource around this for yearend or Q1 of next year?

Daniel Racine

Maybe some of it can be in the resources, but not in the reserve category. It depends on what's the spacing between those 2 out of 15 holes. But for sure, our exploration program underground next year will be all focused on that area and extending also in the lower east. But 12 to 15 holes is not enough, we need a lot more holes. It just won't help us to define how big is that thing, but we have no clue right now.

Operator

Our next question comes from Kerry Smith with Haywood securities.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Daniel, what would be the rough breakdown in that $70 million to $80 million CapEx number be in terms of like a split between ramp development, underground, developments for the stoping and then mill CapEx, can you give percentages?

Daniel Racine

Well, we can't go on into that detail, Kerry, for now. We'll go when we release the study.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. So we'll see that when it comes out. Okay. And you had talked in the past about this new mill that would be a lot cheaper, that number would include that new mill, is that right? Or would it be conventional milling?

Daniel Racine

No, the actual mills that we have, we're already boosting it to a higher tonnage. And that mill will be able to handle both Grey Fox and Black Fox or when the time will come with little amount of money and that's including a new crusher.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. So that -- sorry, just so I'm clear, the $70 million, $80 million includes a new secondary crusher and a new mill then, a new...

Daniel Racine

Includes some money for the mill, but not a lot of money. Most of the money is for the mine itself.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. But it's a new mill, just so I'm clear though, or it's an upgrade?

Daniel Racine

New mill. The actual mill. It's just upgrading the crushing circuit. So there's no new mill. It's the actual 3 same ball mill that we have. It's just upgrading the crushing side of the...

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. So it's the same milling circuit and an upgrade to the crushing circuit then. Okay.

Daniel Racine

There's no change at all in the milling circuit. That milling circuit can handle a lot more than it is right now.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. Perfect. Okay. That helps me on that one. And then. just on the cost per tonne, you're certainly getting the underground cost down, and I don't know, maybe Mark can answer this question or you can. But $83 a tonne, is that kind of a sustainable number on a go forward basis?

Daniel Racine

Yes.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

And also, on the milling side, it was sort of 18.5, is that kind of a sustainable number at 2,200 tonnes a day?

Daniel Racine

Yes. The underground is -- the 83 is both development and stoping. Stoping is a lot lower, it's about $60 per tonne.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. And just on Grey Fox, when would the metallurgy, the new metallurgy that's been done, when will that actually be finished then?

Daniel Racine

End of Q1 next year. This is why that will release in Q2.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. And then, your comment -- I guess, maybe perhaps it was Wade's comment that the IRR or the return on that Grey Fox PEA was "quite good". What does that -- can you quantify that anymore like they were using sort of gold prices around 12.50 or what -- I'm just trying to quantify what...

Wade K. Dawe

We'll release the specific economic parameters in quarter 2. We wanted to declare that the reason for the delay was to enhance the metallurgical recoveries. And at 83%, the project would be a go. It would be -- we would move forward. But we decided against releasing economics based on that metallurgical threshold and we decided to wait to complete the testing. And obviously, it will have a positive impact on the overall study. So that will come out in quarter 2, Kerry.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. And then, what sort of a hurdle rate, Wade, or Jon, would you guys be looking at for a project like this, would it be, I don't know, 15% or?

Wade K. Dawe

We'll release the specific study in quarter 2. But that's basically -- as we've indicated, the economics are positive at the 83% threshold and it would move forward today. But we're going to defer any further comment until we release the full study in quarter 2 next year.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. And Jon, the $38.5 million of capital for the year, it has -- I'm just trying to go through the numbers in the MD&A, is it about $23 million or $24 million that you've spent year-to-date? So that would leave sort of $14-ish million left to spend in Q4? Is that -- have I done that number right?

Jon Legatto

Yes, you are right. Anything that isn't spent might trickle into Q1 of 2014, but yes, that is the number.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. So around the $14 million. Okay. And just to confirm the current mine plan, Daniel, for Phase 3 does finish at the end of 2016?

Daniel Racine

Yes.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

End of 2016. Okay. And now that you've moved up into Phase 3, the upper part of the open pit, what might the grade profile look in Q4. I presume it won't be quite as high as obviously Q3, but it would of be sort of reserve grade or?

Daniel Racine

Reserve grade at 3.1, so we should be around that, maybe a bit higher. There's always a -- the bit is like on ground, there's always a bit of an upgrade at the end of each month because of the negative effect but 3.1 is the average of the resources, the reserves.

Kerry Smith - Haywood Securities Inc., Research Division

Okay. So around 3 grams in Q4 roughly. Okay. That's great.

Wade K. Dawe

Thank you, Kerry.

Operator

Thank you. There are no further questions at this time and this will concludes today's teleconference. You may disconnect your lines and thank you for your participation.

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