Newcrest Mining Ltd (NCMGY.PK)
Q1 2010 Earnings Call
April 22, 2010 11:00 am ET
Ian Smith – CEO and Managing Director
Clarke Wilkins - Citigroup
Michael Slifirski - Credit Suisse
[Cathy Moises] - Evans and Partners
[Brandon Fitz Patrick] - Georgia Bank
David George - JP Morgan
Welcome to the Quarter 3 March update from Newcrest on their production on their projects and [exploration]. The main focus today will be on those three areas. So there might be much mention in the presentation as to what’s going with our bid [fully here] or our proposal [fully here]. And I’ll be touching on the Cadia raised approval, which took place during the quarter.
I’m sure everyone has read the disclaimer on page 2. And I’ll draw your attention to the bottom of that disclaimer on exploration targets. It is further running the presentation. We’ll be talking more about an exploration target in particular and there is another supplementary page that goes with that. So full explanatory notes on what we mean when we talk about exploration target.
So maybe on the point on page 3; our quarterly gold production was 416,651 ounces while we’re going over lighter in the presentation, some [upside] opportunities that we had during the quarter, and some missed opportunities especially at Hidden Valley. But apart from Hidden Valley, results are in line with some expectations that we head for the quarter, although we could have had some upside, which was undelivered due to some [payer] issues that we have in the Cadia Valley.
Most important thing to note about production is we’re expecting significant production increases in the June Quarter with an expectation of production being in excess of 500,000 ounces. Our cash cost remain within the first quartile industry. The site operating costs in line with the previous quarter. The gross cash cost came in at 336 AUD, or 304 Euros and their net cash costs came in at 310/oz or US$280 to around the same level as the last quarter. As I’ve said before, Cadia East development was approved by Newcrest Board and I’ll be talking about that in greater data. And the proposal was made to Lihir Gold to combine the two companies.
So maybe onto page 4 Operations, the main point to consider in Cadia Valley is that not only the greatest increasing with Cadia (Hill Pit King) into the richest zone of the (Cup back). But we have basically completed the transition from the sub level cave operation of Ridgeway to the block cave operation of Ridgeway. So during the quarter just completed, a greater proportion of the total production from the Ridgeway system came out of the block cave system.
The Telfer, we were in the north end of the pit for the predominant part of the quarter and that carries with it a lower gold grade. During the quarter, we’re now in the fourth quarter of the year, we’re moving better to the south end of the pit which (inaudible) the gold grade.
At Gosowong, the grade did increase in line with plan. And during March, it exceeded 30 grams per ton, and we still maintain the recovery well in the excess of 95%.
On projects Cadia East, as I said before was approved. Hidden Valley is expected to reach design capacity of 250,000 ounces during the June quarter. And the quite plainly, the [ramp off] and the commissioning periods for Hidden Valley have taken us longer than expected. Are we going through a range of explanatory notes (inaudible)? But that production was frankly disappointing during the quarter, but a lot of the issues such as being hampering out, commissioning, and ramp up were resolved during the quarter as well.
Ridgeway Deeps, as I’ve mentioned before, three months ahead of schedule, 40 million under budget. A good transition and a good outcome and it does act as a living laboratory, as a learning point from Cadia East before we undertake the commissioning of what will be Australia’s biggest underground mine and one of the largest panel cave mines in the world. And the Gosowong Expansion Plan remains on schedule and on the budget.
So turning to the production summary, there are two main points of note here. Number one is we only produce [79,680] tons out of Hidden Valley. I talked about this disappointment with that, but resolution of some main constrictions that we’ve been living with. And the other thing to note is that during the March quarter, we [milled] just to have a million tons less than we did in the previous quarter and most of that short for a million (inaudible) out of Cadia Valley.
It was on the back of some planned maintenance that we had envisaged, plus some electricity interruptions that we experienced in January and February of this year. That’s as part of the [grid supply] in (inaudible). So they combined to push down the amount of ounces that we could have got out of (inaudible) about 20,000 ounces. And then Hidden Valley came in around 10,000 to 13,000 below the expectation point.
Moving on to our cash cost comparisons, you can see that we continue with a very positive comparison to the rest of the industry, the latest stat that we have for the industry of the Global Gold industry is a halt. It is US $ 507 per ounce, cash cost after byproduct credits in the March quarter. We achieved 280 Euros. And in the December quarter, we had achieved 282 so we’re sitting with, at most, a $ 200 differential to the average producer in the industry, and that flows through from our cash cost through the real total cost. So we do make a fair margin compared to other producers within the gold industry.
Moving on to guidance, at Cadia Valley, Telfer, Cracow, and Gosowong, we are in line with the original gold and copper production gardens. It was given at the beginning of the year. We are certainly [in line] with exact cash cost and most of those cash cost ranges will be the bottom end of guidance. With copper, we actually lifted our guidance range the last quarter and we still expect to be in that higher range. And with [realization royalty and DNA], we’ll be well within those ranges as well. So overall, for those [sites] perfectly in line with guidance above [in] copper on the original, the bottom end of costs on the original goal within the range.
At Hidden Valley, the original guidance point was 110,000 to 125,000 ounces. At the end of last quarter, we dropped that guidance range to 75 to 85 and I’m now dropping that further to 65 to 75 based on the performance during quarter 3. You know, the expectation is still there that we will hit its [design] rate of 250,000 ounces during the quarter. But with quarter 3 fully included in the numbers, we are dropping that guidance.
That has two effects; the original overall guidance that we gave the market was 1.81 to 1.91 million ounces. With the Hidden Valley [affected] in that profile, we will now be towards the bottom end of that guidance range with a probable outcome of 1.81 plus 1 % minus 3%.
The second effect is the annual cost for Hidden Valley will be real down from the original guidance points because the last quarter is the only quarter that will be [expensed]. So up until the end of quarter 3 has been capitalized. So all the other [sites] well within guidance, [bottom end] of costs, [top] of copper in the range on gold, Hidden Valley has not been able to be carried by the other [sites]. But the resolution of most of those issues on Hidden Valley as outlined on page 9, have been put in place. So the new [idea] failure has been addressed.
That was right at the start of this year. The grinding and the (inaudible) profile of the (inaudible) has been addressed. We’ve actually turned the [side mill] into what is more [akin] to a [ball mill] to address some of those issues and make sure that we don’t get bridging and clog ups within the front-end of their process plot. Those fines did affect the [freed conveyor], which led to a failure. So that grinding [past] effect had a deleterious effect on the roles that is being fixed. The (inaudible) commissioning is now completed, the above average [reign] at the start of quarters 1, 2, and 3, where we had numerous events 6 inches of [reign] and (inaudible).
That’s the latest of the point where we’ve been recapping the roads, making sure that all of their on-site roads are all [with]. And that was originally compounded by the point that we were working with material that was finer and had more clay.
So the amount of rock we had to deal with in the early days of commissioning was a lot lower, thus leading to a point where the roads where not as hardened as they should have been for the normal operations. And then this deleterious [reign] events we have been experiencing, we have seen [effects] of those back along the supply road to [light] and we have been working with local authorities to make sure that the profile of maintenance of that road has been lifted.
And then, back at the [port of way], what has been going on with the [LMG] project has made the congestion, has had an effect on the supply of agencies, etcetera. So, we have countered that by [upping] our stock levels that is [all back] in time. I am not going through this list as an excuse. I am just outlining them over the last three quarters; we have been going through addressing all the points that put Hidden Valley in the perspective of being of being able to produce at its original design, right? And things are improving everyday as we move forward.
So, moving on to Cadia East; [so all that] includes some representation of the size of [Cadia East] in the [old body] going forward. You can see the comparison of [leafs] one and two, which are the initial kick off points for Cadia East project compared to the Eiffel tower. So, we are starting this of about 4900 meters, 1200 to 4900 meters below surface and over time, the amount of material that will [cave] to the extraction points will exceed the total amount that has been defined within the project.
So, even now, we are talking about Cadia East as a 37 year project, we are well aware of the fact that at the moment, that we have around 20 to 21 years of approvals with to those approvals to be rolled about further as we progress. And the profile of Cadia East will probably exceed about 37 years. Well, I’m very confident it will that exceed for 37 year given the amount of material that suits to be drawn out through those ongoing (inaudible) areas.
The other thing about Cadia East is it can be extended further down into what is called the list three, which actually carries a very good grade compared to list one and two. So, overtime, if we do decide to go after list three, it would actually lift the [availability] of the project further.
So, moving on to a snapshot of Cadia East project, you can see the reserves currently, and this as of June 30 last year. The reserve had a [98.7] million ounces of gold and 3.2 million ton of copper. We will be able to lift that this year and over its total life. We are presuming that, not including the fact that we would be able to get more material through those drawer extractions. The mine [loft] is well [on excess] for 30 years.
Capital expenditure, the project establishment capital, is 1.91 billion AUD, and most of that will be spent by the end of. Well, it will be spent by the end of calendar year of 2030 with the predominant amount, a vast amount being spent by mid-calendar year 2030.
The ongoing profile of the project, we will be from then on, we’ll be doing 6000 to 7000 meters of development a year. This is the average profile over the remaining life of the project. That amount of development is well below what should need to sustain a normal long-haul [start] type production profile. The sustaining capital will be around 48 million and 50 million a year, which is low compared to other mines of this [tougher] profile.
And then on top of that, there will be an occasional project where in the future, where (inaudible) we will be putting a [Molly Plot] and we’ll be putting a third crusher on the surface. That gives you a good feel of the profile going forward.
The first production is expected on the first half of 2012 and a vast amount of commissioning and [appraisable] production will be saved during calendar year 2030. The gold grade during the first 10 years will be greater than 1 gram per ton, and we will see a profile over that period where the annual gold production will sit between 700,000 and 800,000 ounces out of the valley and 75 to an excess of a 100,000 tons of copper. Now the site cost and [by] site cost, we are talking about the admin process and mining cost so all of those cost around the site will be less than $20 and a little less than 20 AUD a ton.
That will lead the cash cost after byproduct credits of a less than 100 AUD per ounce. And that's a byproduct after you assume proper productions of 75,000 tons per annum, corporate price of U.S. $2 a pound and in exchange rate of 75 cents. So, if there's any upside on any of those three points, right, cash cost after both credit credits comes down appreciably. And then the total production cost on that basis coming at less than 250 AUD per ounce. So, this really does position the company at the very bottom of the first quarter over a very long period of time with a lot of production upside.
Moving under exploration, I'll be talking about Morobe Joint Venture. I'll be going to Gosowong . I mentioned of [the motion] on how we are going there and then finishing off with Telfer and where we start (inaudible). As I mentioned before, there was a full explanation of exploration target for Wafi-Golpu and I draw your attention to reading that so you have a very clear idea of what we've talk about when we mention the world's exploration target.
So, on slide 16, what we've seen in Wafi-Golpu [with their recent drawing], is that the current resource of Wafi-Golpu sits at just over 10 million ounces of gold and 1.8 million tons of copper. The exploration target is at least 20 million ounces of gold and 4 million tons of copper. And we've given a table of latest available information of what the various operations or non-operations are looking like in that PNG Archipelago based on latest available information. And you can see that Wafi-Golpu at the exploration target minimum point of 20 million ounces and 4 million tons of copper is still in the [appraisable] resource.
If we manage to push the tons closer to the 1 billion mark and the 600 million mark ,then you will see an appreciable uplift from that 20 million ounces of gold and 4 million tons of copper. And the overall effect of that will get closer to Cadia East which sits at 33 million ounces of gold in the resource and just over a 6 million tons of copper. So, this is a very appreciable discovery and it is growing in size.
If you turn to the next page, page 17, really the Wafi system is draped over a fairly [baron dive] terrain that sits in between a series of [porphyry target intrusions]. That's really the clearest representation we can give of what we're seeing there. And that knowledge of that system is limited by the amount and depth of drilling that we've done so far.
So, as we bring in a higher capacity deeper [rigs], the knowledge of the system extents, and the success and the intersections increasing grade and length. So, this system is not clearing out and still growing and will keep pushing that boundary as we up our capacity for drilling. We will be going back after we drill another 5 or 6 holes in the Golpu area to do a lot of [RC] drilling around Wafi and extend that deposit as well. So, this whole system is growing appreciably
If you turn on to page 18, I'll just give you some of the latest information out of the deeper holes that we've done at Golpu and you'll see that I added hole, [WR333]. It had an intersection of 187 meters at 1.57 grams per ton gold and 3.16 % copper. So, as I’ve said before, as we increase at depths, the [grades] are picking up and the lengths of intersection are picking up as well.
So instead of the Golpu system being shaped like a carrot there's in fact flaring out as we get deeper. Our geothermal gradient to do these holes when we reviewed so far, just quite can't so we don't see any temperatures above 60 and even at these depths wherein temperatures are around 50s and 60 marks.
On Hole WR331W that includes an intersection of 156 meters at 1.09 grams per ton of gold and 1.48% copper. So the great thing about the Wafi-Golpu system is because the Wafi system is a lot closer to the surface and is gold rich. You can't look to kick off this whole area with a series of [cut-offs] around Wafi moving to some shallow underground mining of the Wafi area. We're also establishing Golpu and in fact Namboanga, et cetera. So, this is a regional very large deposits system which is still growing.
Moving on to the other part of the Morobe Joint-Venture, it is the operation in Hidden Valley, we're looking at an area of Kavelroi which extends below the outline of the final pit and the likelihood is we'll convert that to an underground operation which could get across and peak-up a [reminder] of Hidden Valley underground as well at around a million to a reserved (inaudible) for Hidden Valley as it stands.
So this year, there's an expectation that will more than replace everything this [few] month and then on top of that, there are these types of opportunities with Hidden Valley and some [Greenfield] exploration targets to be drilled further down the valley. So the Hidden Valley system is still growing and (inaudible).
Moving on to Toguraci, basically, from the original Toguraci pit area where we mined half a million ounces of gold. The length of the Toguraci corridor is now doubled which really leads us to the point of being more confident about the declaration of the next few months of the second mining front of Gosowong. And you can see that the corridor remains open and untested between Toguraci and Tobobo. So several years ago, we had some pretty good intersections at Tobobo that's now being proven to be part of this Toguraci corridor with the [striking] length as you can see from the 2 and 1/2 kilometer system that is shown in the representation.
Moving on to slide 21, it's just an update on what we've shared with the market before various conferences and the best thing about the Waivaka-Fiji system is we may have discoveries of new surfaced gold and copper which should bring in to the sections of Waivaka at a much higher grade than the Waisoi pits. So If you look at Waivaka 2, we have an intersection there of a 128 meters from 16 meters form the surface which is 0.8% per ton and 1% copper and that's part of the 144 meters at 0.74 grams per ton and 0.91% copper from 4 meters so effectively from surface. So Waivaka is showing that there are high grade opportunities in this surface which can be combined something with Waisoi and that there are a high grade [anomalies] and opportunities at this. So we continued the drill in Fiji.
Page 22, just reinforces some of the intersections we've been getting with Waivaka 1 and Waivaka 2 and then [bending] on and finishing off with Telfer, we've said that we've blamed drilling as regional strategic [play] at Telfer District. O'Callaghans was the first. We're still waiting on the methodological conclusions to test work on O'Callaghans. We started drilling at Trotman's and we've also started drilling with Camp Dome Region. The drilling at the Vertical Stockwork Corridor is on-going and we'll have some resource information on that for [June's] really up tight that they are good grades in continuation of Telfer deep system. So having a look at Camp Dome, this is very early days but I just sort of appraise you on what the initial drilling is showing. We got a safer drilling capped over the top of [fairly lodge] made [magnanimically]. The grades and the intersections that were staying out that very initial drilling as such that there's a favor to follow up. Drilling will be taking place over the next six months around the Camp Dome district. So the intersections of [Safer Dome] area and we'll be extending that area.
Quite impressive from a copper view point we want to try to [face] back further towards the surface But that's just as exciting for this whole area is the magnetic anomaly what was starting to see and pick up a very large magnetic anomaly in that Camp [Dome] area there is a geo-physics I'm talking about so we really have to wait to see what's the result of that drilling brings forward.
So, let's make sure that the exploration just gives you a taste for across the whole range of air [portfolio] there we still have lots of opportunity to expand there with [all aspects]. And, then we have there bringing in Cadia East the biggest underground mine in Australia but one of the biggest underground mines in the world but we're also finding approachable world class deposits such as Wafi Golpu coming out this second mining fronts across the world and starting to understand the most [insistent] in pre-jaded appoint where getting birth low-grade, large anomalies and high-grade areas as well. So, I think our future is good at reinforces the point that we've been making it. We have a lot of inorganic growth capacity within the [camp]. We have lot of opportunities down and forward. So, I'd like to throw it open to questions at this point.
Your first question comes from the line Clarke Wilkins from Citigroup, please go ahead.
It's a question on Cadia East, we look at the [mining] in 37 years. What's the limitation on the increasing productions from there? Is it rather [crew] or around [hoist] and what is the mining impediments that happened in increasing capacity that shorten that life [span]?
We're going forward just on the approval's process. The approval originally sought and I have a 21 year left. There is no [encumbrance] to that so it is purely within the process in years I throw as going back out long and what a longer life would look like et cetera. So, we don't see any [encumbrance] from that view point. We're putting a conveyance system from underground to take the production up that conveyance system can be easily up in capacity and extend into depths.
So, on top of the Cadia East area we have an area called Cadia Hills. We have lifts through; we have an extension cable that goes underground. So, there are three known areas that we can extend Cadia East into and it dips below Cadia Hill. We haven't done all the drilling that is needed to fully define the whole body in that direction. So, 37 years is very conservative the production profile is 26 million tons out of the valley. Now, if there's another move to lift that production capacity to bringing longer life we certainly have after it to prove it.
All right, thank you.
Thank you and the next question is from the line of Michael Slifirski from Credit Suisse, please go ahead.
Thank you. A couple of question first of all on Cadia East the sustaining capital forecast that lower figure, does it show from that, that the development you talked about was 67 kilometers per year in development is all cached within the cash cost?
Mike, the sustaining and development expenditure will go on per annum after the project reaches its capacity. And, so annually you'll see more draw points developed and you'll see in a sustaining [cafacs] around the insisting infrastructure and that will capitalize and obviously then go in to the cost backup for the asset. The development expenditure that we have sort of talk to the market about is around a $100 to $200 million per annum average over the ten years plus all of the maximum forecast production level being raised.
Okay, I understand. Thank you. Secondly, if given guidance around the next five years in this presentation with exploration a lot of conceptual stuff for the following five years. Can you perhaps helps us with that concept, what the period five years to ten years mark on clock in terms of those exciting growth opportunities. We even managed it within that period.
All right. The [inaudible] large opportunities in that six to eight years rises really around the [mines] Wafi-Golpu either the two large uplift points if we introduce the second mining front in the [gross] along district that will be in a little earlier. So, we might, we'll see that before the end of this five year period.
And then on top of that, any extensions will increase as we get off Hidden Valley. We'll go straight to the top plus any regional place that we get at Telfer.
Okay, thank you. Your next question is from the line of [Cathy Moises] from Evans and Partners. Please go ahead.
Good morning. Just two very quick questions; [was] Hidden valley, once it's fully commissioned. Will you be [disclosing] the silver production? And also, is it 100% certain that it will actually be included for the full quarter in [the payroll] for June at Hidden Valley? And just a query on why the milling cost had gone up so substantially [reduced], presuming its transitional cost and it will go back to more normal levels?
I'll take the points about Hidden Valley first. We are 100% sure that it will be expensed in this quarter. Now I should actually correct that to 99.9. We are at a point now where we've called the end of commission and with the [flotation et cetera] is being fully commissioned and is now in [competence] for us to call it. At the end of the year, we will give a full profile of how [actual] silver is produced per quarter. And from then on, you will get all of the silver production by quarter. So, that’s really clear.
On the Ridgeway point, we are talking [in rather] an increase from 246 over the nine months to 296 in the three months just completed for milling. (inaudible) of Ridgeway and it came out of some of the changes between what we had to do to bring on Ridgeway Deeps. And the costs that they shared [with that] compared to the way that we were milling before. Do you have anything to add to that?
No. I think you [commented]. It was a little bit to do with, you know, the [pipe] on Ridgeway Deeps. But it was a marginal increase and again, we were expected to sort of come back.
Okay, thank you.
Thank you. Next question is from the line of [Brandon Fitz Patrick] from Georgia Bank. Please go ahead.
[Brandon Fitz Patrick]
Thanks, a couple of follow up questions on Cadia East; the reference to the [assumption of 75 kilowatt tons] of copper productions, just double check on that; specifically Cadia East and not the Cadia Valley collective operations.
When we talk about [when I quote] production, I'm talking about [CVR] overall, so I sold the valley at 700,000 to 800,000 ounces per annum and 75 to an excess of 100,000 tons per year. And the reason I say that it's because as we go forward, we can find (inaudible) that we take out at Ridgeway deeps. The [tonnage] that we take out at Cadia East to suit where we’re pulling from and what is best for us in relative cost structures [of cross structures] for copper and gold. And then we have, as I flagged before, those additional opportunities of Cadia East [upper], the bottom of Cadia Hill. And if we get for (inaudible) over that first 10-year period, you might well [try] different combinations. What we are saying that those different combinations from the different areas will give you a production profile of between 700 and 800 and 75 to an excess of 100.
[Brandon Fitz Patrick]
(inaudible). What are those specifically thing of the question for correctly of the Costa the bar for the credits with the assumption 75 kilotons. That's a snapshot preference used for the [evaluation], specifically.
Yes. It's the 75,000 tons for all of the profiles across the valley at $2 [kappa]. This is US in the 75 cent exchange [rate] bring us in at least a 100 AUD cash cost (inaudible).
[Brandon Fitz Patrick]
OK, I just one other.
At most scenarios, it is well below 100. We're just being [conserving inside]. All of those scenarios are below $100.
[Brandon Fitz Patrick]
I get it (inaudible). And just one final question; due to comment in [K. Smith] letter. Was this at least turning letter in the year. Had a reference to moving more materials through the draw point. I think it was, is that indicating that the profile for the cave can be extended upwards in (inaudible) extended. Is that the nature of the reserved increase?
No, the reserve [inclusively] some of the [dealing] that was done over the year, most of it in the early part of this financial year as conversion of resource in the reserve. So it's nothing, you know, I’m toward that. My statement additional tons is we have to find the areas within Cadia East that we haven't included all of the areas that take it to the surface which would covers some of those areas called Cadia East (inaudible) et cetera. Now, overtime, we will draw those tons through the Cadia East System. We haven't included the whole of those tons in that total profile when we calculated the MPV and the title project. So, all I’m saying is this upside on tons it's absolute on [MPV] over its total life.
[Brandon Fitz Patrick]
OK, that's clear. Thanks very much for the help.
Thank you. The next question is from the line of David George from JP Morgan. Please continue.
(inaudible) to that upside production issue. It’s just with your typically your latest (inaudible) came early this week and requesting further access and in access for data. I mean, if you have any [comeback] to that if there’s any further discussions?
No, I think its right to say that Lihir is going through a process. We are finishing of a process of contacting persons and (inaudible) will be in Sydney tomorrow, head to lunch and one-on-ones in Melbourne on Tuesday. So working through that process, for sure, that will be in contact at some stage during that process and if there was interested of persons going into the (inaudible), I'm sure they would afford us access on the same [process]. But we have a confirmation of that.
And there no further further questions from the phone lines. Please continue.
Okay. Well, thank you very much for that. Basically the quarter has hampered in production by some slight downgrading milling capacity on the Cadia Valley plus what we saw is ongoing commissioning in Hidden Valley. You’ve seen appreciable uplift in production and very positive messages out of the quarters, our sustainable, low-cost position has been enforced. And with the significant uplift in production, you should say some reflection or let moving through the fourth quarter, which places us right at the bottom of that cost curve.
In [expiration], we're having a lot of success in Wafi-Golpu. Cadia East is a very exciting opportunity going forward and will set the company up for a very long period of time. The profile of Cadia East is such that as I’ve said before, the ongoing development will average six or seven kilometers (inaudible). There are profiles where we can [ramp up] at development in the first three years, great nations and figures of around 100 million. That is depending on how the cave has proper guiding and how we wish to go forward with areas such as [leaf 3].
That, for most years, and the great thing about the cave once you get [leaf 1] on [leaf 2] going, is that you can actually smooth out your development profile depending on the profile of the company as a whole. So again, we are reinforcing our [organic] crest cost position and our ability to continue to grow a resource place. Thank you very much for your time and we'll talk again when we have more information on anything to do with Lihir or any other projects. Thank you.
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