Good morning and welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Jaguar Mining Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2007 Earnings Conference Call. (Operator Instructions) It is now my pleasure to introduce Mr. Bob Zwerneman, Director of Investor Relations for Jaguar Mining. Please go ahead, sir.
Good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us on our Fourth Quarter and Fiscal Year 2007 Earnings Conference Call. With me today I have Mr. Dan Titcomb who is Jaguar’s President and CEO, as well as Jim Roller, Jaguar’s Chief Financial Officer.
We will be making forward-looking statements on the call this morning and we refer you to the language in yesterday’s press release, which is available on our website. Also, I believe Dan will be referring to slides that are part of our investor presentation and you can find our Corporate Presentation under our Investor Relations tab on Jaguar’s web site, which is www.jaguarmining.com. So with that I will turn it over to Dan.
Daniel R. Titcomb
Thanks, Bob. Good morning, all. Today I am going to focus primarily on our growth initiatives and the program to grow the company from its program that was announced shortly in the past year, about a month ago. We’re moving the company from a 400,000-420,000 oz Au producer to a 700,000 oz Au producer.
Regarding our financials in the quarter, the results—the annual results—I will leave you to read the press release which I think did a reasonably good job at summarizing those results and we will certainly open the forum up for questions at the end to give you a chance to ask any specifics on the press release.
I will provide a summary here really pressing on five major points as we talk about our growth initiatives and again, to add to what Bob said, I would encourage you to go to the web site and look at the Corporate Presentation as it details the growth program and what will be taking place, now through the next couple of years to achieve that new production profile of 700,000 oz Au.
The primary items that we’ll discuss today is people, underground development and exploration, above-ground initiatives, equipment, and our corporate initiatives.
The core of the company’s growth--the most strategic item for us to achieve our objectives that we’ve laid out for all of you recently--is building that management and operational team. Today we have roughly 1,000 employees; about 99% of them are Brazilians. In 2007 we added 250 employees, which included an extensive training program. We have to grow a lot of these employees in skill sets organically, so we have committed ourselves to that process over the last two to three years, which includes having an in-house school and training facilities. Our employees average about 12 hours a month in skill development and additional educational aspects of the mining safety and environmental items.
As we look forward in 2008 and 2009 we will be adding about 250 people per year in order to meet our objective. Really for 2008 we’ve got the staffing in place for our 2008 initiatives, however, we need the lead time to go back in so you so you’ll see us adding people continuously throughout the year, again, at a rate of about 250 per year for the next two years.
It’s a challenging environment that is a strong mining sector with high demand for all trades. Even more difficult to do the expansion of mining in the country of Brazil, but really specifically in the district.
As a smaller company, Jaguar has some incentives to offer: we have an attractive growth profile which brings a lot of attention to the company, allows us to attract new talent; we have equity participation, which is a key element for our ability to attract and maintain our people in Brazil—another form of compensation but I can’t emphasize enough how important that is in this environment. And our company is quite visible and has had a lot of local success and therefore we do garner attention, which has been a benefit.
Also, our people tend to live at home, which is a tremendous benefit. I think in the long run; primarily we don’t lose people to the fact that they’re away from their family. They’re home most every night and that’s a big benefit. So the reason to emphasize that a little bit more today is to show you that there are elements that are inherent inside Jaguar’s business model that helps us de-risk the items in the future issues, allowing us to probably better achieve these aggressive objectives that we’ve put forward.
Our skill condition, Jaguar, as I mentioned, has trained—we’re equipped to do so and again, we’ve really put that time and energy, and you’ll see some of the administrative costs that are reflected in our financials really speak to the fact that we’ve committed to the lead times and the upfront expense to build that operating team. So for us there’s a lot of equity in those expenses in value and it is an absolute necessity. If we’re going to grow this company to that 700,000 oz Au sustainable production rate, we’ve clearly got to add another 500+ people and I really can’t emphasize that enough, how important that is. But with a core group of 1,000 people today we have the internal skill set built to grow the team and train internally. So we’re in fairly good condition to be able and achieve that.
The next item I think is important to address would be development and exploration. Our 2008 plans call for about 12-15 km of additional new underground development in mine development and that will add to approximately our 20 km of existing development that we have in place.
At Paciência, through March 15, we added another 700 m of underground development drifts and a little under 200 m at the new entrance we opened in Q4 and Q4’s progress of about an additional 600 m through this new portal driving south to the existing mine, so we have, again, two portals built into the Paciência mine about 2 km apart and they are driving towards each other at this time and in Q4 we added about 600 m through the new North Portal.
We have recently encountered some significant mineralization along the strike and that information from the channel sampling and opening up the face of the mineralization will be available shortly and we’ll be putting out an exploration results in the next couple of weeks, which will also correspond with our analyst trip that’s taking place in two weeks which will highlight the end of this presentation.
The CTX, or the Caeté, expansion project—as you know, it’s made up of two mines that are under development now and one centralized plant along about a 25 kilometer trend that Jaguar controls exclusively. By the two mines are known as Roca Grande and Pilar. Roca Grande has the new portal and a second one will be driven this year for underground access. We plan to excavate about 1,500 m of drift into the mineralization this year from this new portal. And that adds to the 2,400 m we have in place currently.
At the Pilar mine, which is the mine further to the west, again, feeding the Central CTX Plant, we continue to drill underground through the mineralization that we’ve moved into resource reserve. We’re getting intercepts similar to the grades above and we’ve developed around 250 m so far this year to depth, opening up more faces for our eventual feed for that plant, which we believe construction will take place beginning 2008 and be delivered on 2009. So the mines are well out in front of the plant development.
And we have just under 4 km of total development in place now at Pilar, so again we’ll have that mine development well out in front of our production and won’t be running into ourselves.
At the Turmalina Project, which was our first underground project--delivered in the end of 2006, early 2007; ramped up to 2007 last year—we’ve developed about 550 m through mid-March, the first quarter here, and an additional 180 km—180 m, over at Satinoco. So about over 700 m of development have taken place there, again, opening more faces and preparing the mines for the expansion program that we’re going to start this year.
We have about 18 months of development in front of us in the specific areas that we’re mining now, so we’re again well out in front of ourselves. And it’s about 6 km of total underground development in place.
At our one off-site operation, which is known as Sabará, as you know we had a limited mine-life year. This project was an early stage cash flow generating project for us, however, over the last year to 1.5 years we have been doing exploration in and around the existing mineralization, or reserves, and we have a project known as [inaudible]; this project has little higher grade and several oxide zones within it. We will be supplies at Sabará plant starting in Q2. It’s approximately 20 km. The mineralization is currently from the Sabará plant, however the higher grade offsets the transport cost here so we don’t see any major changes in our cost structure over at the Sabará project but we do see extension to mine life continuing in that operation.
Not only is it generating cash flow, I would point out that it’s also been a great training facility and it’s where our laboratory is located. So it is a scenario that we want to continue to maintain and operate. The downside to that is the cash cost due to the grade and the recovery is going to be a little bit higher, consequently when we blend that with our sulfide operation you tend to see a high cash cost. So it’s important when you look at Jaguar you analyze it and pull it apart a little bit and focus on the underground sulfides, which will become probably 90% of our production in the near future here and that really reflects the cost structure of the company.
On the exploration front we have the large exploration property known as Pedra Branca, which is in the northern part of Brazil; it’s a joint venture with Xstrata. We have two drill rigs operating there. We’ve doubled our geological team there and will be planning to drill about 22,000 m on very specific air-born targets and targets that we have trenched and done some surface work on. The structures have been delineated and we have a good group of targets to drill off here, certainly the scale and size is attractive to us in what we see from the surface. It’s still early in the evaluation process, however we are encouraged by the results. Again, we’re here on the project because we’re looking for a scale of something that can produce 200,000 oz Au a year with a grade that would be running probably 3-5 g/t type material. All early indications give us that belief that we need to continue that program. We’ll certainly and probably quickly surpass the capital requirements under the joint venture arrangement with Xstrata due to the exploration results that we’re achieving now.
The next section and item that we’ll summarize now is operations and the expansion program. Feasibility studies for the Caeté project in the Turmalina expansion will be completed in Q2 and those technical reports will be filed within that period. Construction will begin at both locations in the May time period. Let me back up a little bit here. The feasibility studies at the Turmalina is an expansion, which adds the parallel ore shoot known as Satinoco to the mine plan that we have already operating there so that, again, this feasibility study is the first phase of expansion at the Turmalina and that will be announced here very shortly.
The same team that completed the construction at the Turmalina initially, the EPA construction team has moved over to Paciência and over the last 12 months it has built up the Paciência project. It will be brought back to the Turmalina and expand that project based on this new feasibility study.
The ball mills and the key components for the project expansion are in place, including the ball mills for the Caeté Project, which are being refurbished now. We bought used mills for that some time ago and refurbished them in the country and the feasibility study for the Caeté Project is for the most part on schedule. The results will be announced in late April and we, again, expect to start construction on that project based on the earlier results from our pre-fees and scoping study sometime in the May time period and deliver that roughly in 12 months.
So I think, in part, it’s a good moment here to pause and talk about risk and managing risk and looking forward on these projections. We have an aggressive expansion program, however, what we would say is that a lot of the front-end work that is necessary to achieve the expansion program and the operations has been put in place. In addition, we have the people and the experience within the district—having built two mines very similar to the third one at Caeté that we’re going to start shortly—and we’re rotating that team around the district, on the same projects, and we really see that as lowering risk.
We’re seeing the performance of those teams increase through each month and we think that the product that we’re putting out, the building and the constructing of the operations, is continuing to improve. And we’ve got the infrastructure well enough out in front of us that as we drive to this 700,000 oz Au target over the next several years, we don’t think—we’ve got enough lead time, we believe, to achieve that. So, the lead time, the experience of the crew, operating in the same district—all key factors that help us de-risk this program and expansion in development.
Speaking of the de-risking, one of the main items that we have focused on, particularly from the development and expansion program and capital raise that we did recently, is on equipment. And our new plan, which came out, again, about a month ago, depends on a significant expansion of not only people, but of equipment. We intend to accelerate our equipment purchase program, basically doubling our existing fleet over the next 18 months or so. We have started advance purchases as we—as you know—while we have been well out in front of ourselves in buying mills and other types of equipment that are harder to source, so we’ve have those in inventory for some time, which has prevented delays on the development of existing projects.
But as we look at trying to mitigate risk going forward, there are initiatives that we’re putting in place now. For instance, on the crushing circuits on the existing operations we’re doubling up the pads and so in the event that we have a job crusher, for instance, that goes down on us, we have the pads already developed and we’ll drop the spare job crusher that we have in inventory onto that pad and so the down time would be shortened.
Excess tanks, gear boxes, and rolling stock--all in the plan to be acquired in over the next 18 months we’ll be ramping up that inventory. We see that as a very direct and tangible way to reduce risks with redundancy.
On the corporate front, we netted about $105 million from the capital that was raised in February. We eliminated $9.6 million of term debt that was associated with the Turmalina Project and we settled our hedge book associated with that note on Turmalina. All those details and specifics are in the press release. So there will be no more charges and we have for our shareholders 100% exposure to gold price today.
Prior to settling those obligations our ending cash position in February was about $140+ million. That cash and the cash flow from operations, as that they continue to ramp up, allows us to fully fund this expansion program. We feel pretty good about that and we think our capital costs are reasonably competitive within the industry.
And we speak about the capital costs, I think it’s good to know that when we look across the whole suite of projects that we have, we’re looking at about $64/oz—mine-life oz—for our CAPEX cost for the project. So comparing us to the industry--certainly you see $100+ across the industry—we think due to our early purchasing, location, our existing infrastructure, the amount of development we already have in place in our existing projects and the fact that our expansion program is primarily under our feet and on strike really helps us control CAPEX costs and manage operating costs, again, due to that tight infrastructure that we have all around us in Belo Horizonte
Relative to managing our capital, we plan to position our cash into accounts in Brazil and we have been doing that right along. We get higher interest rates down there, reduced exposure to the fluctuation, and we have programs in several banks that we have relationships with, so again, we can mitigate risks for a specific institution. And we’ve had success with managing our capital in Brazil in the past so we feel pretty comfortable moving the bulk of our capital down there, over the short period here.
Stock option expense charge—as you probably saw the item got people’s attention—JAG is changing our plan in favor of shifting away from stock options to work other alternatives. We’ll provide those details in the next earnings call in May.
And with that I would just like to close with a couple of points here. Two weeks from today we’ll begin our tour of operations at Quadrilateral in Brazil. I can say that our team is very pleased and excited to show off what we’ve built over the last 12 months, which is primarily the Paciência Project, both at the mine and at the plant, which is ready to start ramp-up. In Q1 the pad—last year—a few on--when the analysts came down and the people toured the project, they saw a pad that was put in place in anticipation of the development of the project. Again, that project was delivered in less than 12 months and I think the analysts will see a great amount of movement forward from our development team.
We have about 50,000 t of ore stockpiled in front of the plant now. We’ll start ramping that project up in Q1 with development work so the grade will be a little bit lower but we’ll switch into full-run rate sometime in Q2.
We have approximately 12 people signed up for this analysts’ trip and there are still a couple of seats available so if there’s others there on the call today that would like to participate in this, we would encourage that, and to make contact with Bob in our office here in the U.S.
The tour will take about three days and will cover our four major projects, primarily Turmalina, Caeté X, Paciência, and will also stop at the Sabará Project and people can see the expansion of the off-site operation.
And with that I think I’ll turn it over and would like to close with the point that the company is in the best condition that it’s been in its life span. The key aspects that I focused on early on was for the people--and we can’t emphasize enough we feel that that hurdle is probably the greatest hurdle that the whole industry has; we see that as our challenge. However, with 1,000 people already in the company, that gives us a great foundation to build and expand from. We’re continuing to stick to the same business plan that you’re all familiar with and we’re really expanding it depth and on-strike within our existing projects around that same Belo Horizonte infrastructure and we thinks that all leads to risk management that helps us reduce risks and hopefully return greater value to our shareholders.
So, with that I’ll open it up for questions and appreciate your attention here this morning.
Heather, can we poll the group please?
(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from Sam Stein from [inaudible]. Go ahead.
I have a couple of questions. First question is I was just wondering are there any plants that diversify by geography? Because you have all of these gold eggs in a Brazil basket and it’s somewhat kind of unnerving. I just don’t understand the rational for placing everything into Brazil. Other companies have gotten into trouble that way, when they’ve put too many eggs in a South American or Central American basket.
The other question I have concerns forward sales and derivatives and that kind of thing. I was talking to a fellow recently and he was perplexed why the junior and intermediate mining stocks were doing so badly compared to the price of bullion itself. I mean the fact is that they’ve been doing horribly. Intermediate mining stocks have been far underperforming bouillon; it’s really pretty pathetic.
But I said to him the reason I see that happening is because the guys that are running the mining companies are great technicians, they know how to build a mine, but they constantly do the most outrageously retarded things, like forward sell and right-call derivatives in what appears to be a gold bull market, or silver bull market and they do this over and over again. They constantly shoot themselves in the foot with the most absurd strategies that way with currency swaps that make no sense.
And the net result is that, again, you’ve got the loss, based on forward sales. I don’t know why in the world you agree to do a forward sale. I don’t care who pressured you or what rational was offered, it made no sense—not one scintilla of sense—and the net result is that for all the wonderful mines you’re building, you have a bad loss. Comments?
James M. Roller
Thank you. First off, I will maybe address the risks associated with Brazil and the strategy behind our decision making. First off, we feel very strongly about risk management and operating inside Brazil. It’s probably one of the leading countries in the world, as far as being mine-friendly. Much of their economy is driven by the mining industry. It’s a 300 year history of mining. The particular region that we’re in has great, well-honored mining code legislation—law. We have seen time and time again that the Brazilians and their commitment to the mining industry has been backed up by not words, by actions, and when they’ve been a challenge to a mining company we’ve been able to—if we had to go through the courts—be able to exercise our rights and have our rights preserved as they’re shown under the law. So I would say if you had to pick a jurisdiction in one of the best mining countries in the world, I would argue that the jurisdiction that we’re in has got to be considered in the top four or five in the world as far as mining-friendly.
The geological setting we’re in leads us to believe that we can have a rolling resorts base of 8,000,000-10,000,000 oz Au under our feet and on strike therefore we’re leveraging the existing infrastructure we have in place. We’re also leveraging the fact that our people are from this region, grew up in this mining industry, and we have our political relations here which helps us also to alleviate risks.
So, when we stand back and look at the neighboring countries of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, and measure going into those geological settings and look at what we have under our feet and then measure it against--also, the mine-friendly world of Brazil--we think we are mitigating risks for our shareholders. And that’s a very specific and strategic strategy that we took on. So, expanding and keeping our emphasis in Brazil we think is the proper strategy and that we polled many of our shareholders and we have found that to be something that they believed in. So, I would say that we are very strongly committed to Brazil.
On the forward sales and so forth, I feel you point is well taken, however, I would say that we have taken the steps and have been committed to eliminating that—those types of forward derivatives—and have done so. Period. So we no longer have those types of instruments in place and don’t intend in putting them in place. We issued equity recently and positioned ourselves with equity and a operational program that makes us self-sustaining so that we’re able to not have to be put into those types of [inaudible-bad audio] in the future.
So, we don’t totally disagree and I would say that if you look across the sector--as you sort of characterized the entire junior mid-tier sector--if you look at Jaguar against the XAU over the last two years and see that we have 186% growth over that, 80% growth on 2007, and if you look at say [inaudible] and [inaudible] El Dorado and [inaudible]—I would call names in the mid-tier sector—you would see that Jaguar has out-performed them significantly. And I also say that Jaguar’s management has been well-committed to preserving the value of its shareholders. And if you look at our stock that has been issued, where in many cases 1/5 of the amount of shares out, as some of those peers that I’ve just mentioned.
So, I think we have parallel objective here and I don’t think you’re going to see us going into the derivatives or hedges in the future here. And we’ve been committed to giving our shareholders full exposure to the gold price.
I think it’s safe to say the stock is stalled at this point and stalled for some time now—you’re talking historical performance. And I just am so perplexed, if not actually disgusted, by a sector that constantly seems to have mining managements that appear to be working for the bullion banks and the short-sellers; they’re sure as hell not working for the shareholders. It’s such a regular occurrence. Higher prices, higher bullion prices, and it’s one mining company after another reporting a loss. Can these guys ever make a profit? And the main reason that they lose money is because they engage in these financial derivative schemes—forward sale schemes—that they have no concept about, they have no idea. Maybe they should hire some Harvard MBAs to run their derivative strategy or whatever, if they must engage in derivatives, instead of [inaudible]. It just is so—it’s beyond sufferability.
James M. Roller
Well, sir, thank you. We appreciate your comments and we’ve heard you and as you can note, we have moved away from that and have done it, executed on that, so we don’t plan on having those types of issuances in place going forward. Appreciate your comments and I suggest, however, that we go to the next question please.
Thank you very much. I apologize for the delay. (Operator Instructions) Our next question is going to come from Matt Helman, who is an individual investor. Please go ahead, sir.
Matt Helman – Individual Investor
Hi, there. I just wanted to congratulate you on the great operational results and I think you guys do excellent project management. There is one aspect of the earnings I don’t understand and just going to ask you for some explanation, basically. It’s the stock-based compensation. If you would be kind enough to explain a lit bit more about how that figure is generated and if we can expect that to be a recurring type of charge.
James M. Roller
Well, the best way to look at the stock compensation is we align our interests with the shareholders. This is one where, as Dan talked to the performance of Jaguar stock over the last two years where you’ve seen a more than 180% gain in Jaguar’s equity values--and that compares with some that are off 10%, 20%, 30%, 50%--Jaguar’s management team has been adding and creating value.
Our Board of Directors, when they looked at compensation schemes, it is not heavily sided on the payroll side of the ledger but on the stock compensation side of the ledger. In calculating this it’s very complex, goes through the models and it takes into account volatility, and also the fact that that share price has increased, creates a non-cash charge—this is not charges that costs shareholders money, in fact money comes back into the treasury when those shares are exchanged or exercised.
So this is one where, as we looked at this last year, we have now shifted away from a stock option program and we will be looking at shifting to something else. So, I can’t say that many of our shareholders really speak to this issue, beyond individual investors. Most of our institutional shareholders understand how our compensation programs are structured.
Daniel R. Titcomb
I would also add that, in part, I think we are victims, a little bit, of some of the recent success in appreciation, clearly as the share price moves up and the calculation as it works. You know, we’re our own worst enemy to some degree because as the share price moves up and has a rapid increase is going to be a greater charge associated with that.
Also, because we don’t have many shares out, you will note that we’ve got only 71 fully-diluted shares—72—our percentage of stock options tend to look higher than our peer group mainly because we have so few shares out, so there’s that dynamic, also.
However, as we look forward, we have not petitioned the shareholders to increase the stock options at the current meeting coming up in May, so you won’t see that request in front of them, but we will have other types of value-increased compensation that will be included within the company structure.
I’ve got to tell you that probably one of the most important things that we do in Brazil is that—and it is really and truly a war of who can get the best people and who can maintain the best people and as a small company, having that tool available to us is probably one of the most critical items that’s we’ve got. So you’re going to continue to see us create incentive programs based on performance for our people and I think it’s the, I would say, probably one of the single most important things we can do to build out the program that we have in front us.
Matt Helman – Individual Investor
Okay. Very good. I’ve been a shareholder for over a year already and very happy overall. That was just one aspect I didn’t understand. I appreciate the explanation.
James M. Roller
Thanks for your support. Next question please.
The next question is going to come from Craig Miller from BMO Capital Markets. Please go ahead, sir.
Craig Miller - BMO Capital Markets
Good morning everyone. I just wondered if you could break down your admin costs by country--U.S. versus Brazil--and what would you anticipate your admin costs be this year.
James M. Roller
Good morning, Craig. Just give us one moment, we'll see if we can pull that easily here.
Craig, about a quarter of the admin cost is associated with North America, so the bulk of it is associated with Brazil. And much of that is built into the lead programs to build the teams as well as the EPC programs that we've embedded into the company. And we would expect to see some reduction in that because the problem is we're now going through the big compliance effort relative to the NYSE, which we've already undergone. However, I would say that the ongoing compliance and being fully exposed to [inaudible] is what we’ll be facing throughout this year and the full testing for that and it goes into full effect next year but we’ve got to implement this year.
So you’re going to see probably the admin come down a little bit, but if we’re going to build those crews and put the organization in place at the year ahead of itself, as we ramp things up, then we’re probably going to see something similar over the next 24 months.
Craig Miller - BMO Capital Markets
I didn’t hear a word you said because the line seems to be breaking up, almost like a cell phone. So I wonder, Bob, if you could just send me the essence of that by e-mail. Thank you.
No problem, Craig. Next question.
[discussion about audio impairment]
Heather, can you hear?
I can hear you fine, sir. And I was able to hear Mr. Miller fine. The next question is going to come from [inaudible] from Equinox Partners. Please go ahead.
Unidentified Analyst – Equinox Partners
Good morning, guys. Great results. Two questions. One is when would we expect reserves of your existing operations and incremental operation?
Daniel R. Titcomb
We would expect that new reserve information will be published before the end of May and that would be project by project and it would not include the exploration project in the north, Pedra Branca, but it would include the three main projects that you’re familiar with—the underground projects. So both resorts and reserves, and when we issue the feasibility study, of course we would—that comes with a reserve calculation so you will feel the impact of that. Again, complete the feasibilities in April and announce the results in May.
Unidentified Analyst – Equinox Partners
I think the other thing is, on your stock-based compensation expense, would you have a breakdown of that in terms of team management or is it middle management and contractor?
James M. Roller
We don’t have that with us right at the moment. I suggest you give us a call and we’ll break that down for you. I can tell you that it’s very little associated with contractors so it’s all associated with management and down to the level of probably like a mine captain—middle management—in Brazil and we can give you that detail at a different time.
Unidentified Analyst – Equinox Partners
Sure, if you could give me that it would be great.
Heather, let’s see if anybody else has a question for us this morning.
Absolutely. (Operator Instructions) Mr. Zwerneman, there’s no further questions at this time.
All right then. Well, thank you. Thank you everyone for participating in our call this morning. If you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to call me or Dan Titcomb. We will try to answer any questions you might have.
Daniel R. Titcomb
And again, for those people who might want to join us on this upcoming trip in two weeks, there are a couple of seats left on the bus and we would love to fill those. And with that, we look forward to speaking to you in early May; somewhere around the second week of May we will have our first quarter results and with that I will say have a good day. Thank you very much.
Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude the conference for today. On behalf of Jaguar Mining I would like to thank you very much for participating. You may now all disconnect.
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