Bill Reid - President and CEO
Gold Resource Corporation (GORO) Wall Street Analyst Forum March 26, 2008 11:10 AM ET
The next company we have presenting is Gold Resource Corporation. Gold Resource Corporation is a mining company focused on production and pursuing developments of gold and silver project that feature low operating costs and produce the high returns on capital. The company has 100% interest in four high-grade gold and silver capacities in Mexico in the Southern state of Oaxaca. Gold Resource Corporation expects to emerge as a low-cost gold producer in 2008.
And presenting this morning is Bill Reid, President and CEO.
Thank you. It's my pleasure to be here this morning. I appreciate the opportunity to tell you about our company. First of all, I will be making forward-looking statements, so there is a Safe Harbor rule on that.
To start with, I need to give you a little bit of my background, because I think that's important to understanding what we are doing. My brother David and I founded US Gold Corporation, our first gold company in 1977, and ran that company for 28 years. Now, most companies don't last 28 years, but more important than our longevity is the fact that we put six mines into production, and that's what important because we are focused on putting mines into production.
In 2005, we sold controlling interest in that company to one of the most successful mining man of our era, Rob McEwen. He has taken that company forward and this gives us the ability to go forward with Gold Resource Corporation. So, we used our 30 years of experience to create a company, to engineer a company from day one to maximize shareholder value, and I hope to show you that during the presentation.
Now, in our business not all ounces are created equal. It can be easily shown that low cost ounces, the market will pay more for. So low cost ounces command a premium and those are the ounces we're focused on, and you'll see this a little bit later. We also feel like we have one of the most exciting properties out there today as far as an exploration standpoint. We're going to add strength to this exploration through production.
Very briefly, we have 34 million shares outstanding. We're very proud of the fact since we went public with our IPO in September '06 we've now traded actually 42, 43 million shares. Our average volume over the last 90 days is about 130,000 shares a day. So it's a pretty good liquid situation for a small company.
Our IPO was in September of 2006. We went public at $1 a share. There was quite a bit of demand for that, so we came right back with a private placement in December of 2006 and raised additional funding. Then we raised our production funding December of last year where we raised actually $22.3 million to put our mine into production.
Now, we're very proud and pleased with the caliber of our shareholders. If you take a look at this list, you'll see that these are gold funds and companies that invest in gold mining companies or evaluate gold mining companies everyday. Tocqueville Gold Fund, John Hathaway's Fund right here in New York City, an excellent fund. We're very pleased that they were actually our lead-up [order] in our production funding. They own 10% of our company.
Heemskirk, a global mining house that looks at properties all over the world, they've invested in all three of these fundings that we had. And you can see that Gold 2000, that was Europe's largest gold fund, they participated in our IPO. We also want to point out that management owns about one-third of this company, and we'll show you why we believe that's important a little bit later.
Our strategy is very specific. We make our decisions based on financial performance. There is not some magic numbers such as 1 million ounces or 3 million ounces for us. What's important to us is to look at the capital expenditure to put the mine into production. And in our particular case, we won't do a project if we can't get our money paid back from that project in one year or less. The projects we'll be talking about today are capital paid back in six months.
Another important tenet of our approach is that we want to get into production at the earliest possible point in time, so that we can build this company with cash flow and not keep going back to the equity markets every six months for additional funding. We're very focused and have been very disciplined on limiting shareholder dilution.
Why Gold Resource? Well, we're targeting growth in three areas; increasing resources, increasing production and increasing cash flow. We made our production decision in April of 2007 based on 300,000 ounces of gold equivalent. That basically was a three-year operation under the premise that our payback of capital was six months. That was satisfactory for us. We began moving forward to get this property into production.
In October, we came up with an increase in the ounces to 770,000 ounces of gold equivalent, and we believe that near-term and even longer term which will show you the potential for this project is at least 2 million ounces.
Now, I referred to gold equivalent, I just want to explain that. Our properties have gold, silver, but also lead, zinc and copper. And what we do is, for gold equivalent basis, is take $1 value of the silver, lead, zinc and copper and covert that into a gold equivalent. So, when we look at this, as far as the resources go, you have to understand it's a gold equivalent basis.
Now, let's look at the production. We're targeting our first year of production 70,000 ounces of actual gold. That's not gold equivalent. That's 70,000 ounces of gold. We expect to begin that production, hopefully, by the end of this year. Our cash cost for that 70,000 ounces is targeted, estimated at $100 per ounce. We actually use a little bit of silver that we produce as an offset against our cost, but as you'll see that we have a great situation with higher grade, so we have low costs.
Now in the second year we're talking about 100,000 ounces of production; that is, gold equivalent of just gold and silver, just the precious metals gold and silver, because actually we're going to use the base metals as credits against the cost. And all our estimates at this point in time point to the fact that the copper, lead and zinc will pay for the entire operation, all the cost. So the base metals we use as credits, so that the gold and silver is essentially free. So that's a pretty good position to be in. And then, based on your estimate of the gold price; you can see that the cash flow will be significant after this operation.
We put together a very excellent team of Mexican nationals down in Oaxaca, Mexico. And I think, as we go through this, I'll show you some of the exceptional things that they have done. All of our properties are in the Southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca is a beautiful place, beautiful people. We've not had any problems operating down there. We're very pleased to be in Mexico.
We have four properties. We're going to talk in detail about our El Aguila project which is our flagship mine. We're mix in a little bit about El Rey. We won't really talk about Solaga and Las Margaritas.
A couple of important points here. Number one, we have a 100% interest in each of these properties. Number two, they're all high-grade. Number three, our philosophy is we're building a mill at El Aguila. Any one of these properties can ship high grade ore to our El Aguila mill. And this is why we'll be able to have a long project life, as well as maximize the head grade at any point in time through the mill. So using this centrally located mill set by four projects is a very important aspect of our properties.
As we said, we are targeting production by the end of this year. Our first year cash cost of production to produce an ounce of gold will be plus or minus $100 an ounce. Our capital payback is six months. We're also evaluating the possibility of accelerating the El Rey mine, and you'll see why, because of its high-grade gold. And if we're able to get that mine into production early on and deliver ore, we can truck ore to the mill that could actually help us beat those targets.
These are the location of two of our properties. We're going to talk about El Aguila in detail. One of the things I wanted to point out here though is why we came into this area. We have an 8 kilometer mineralized trend, you can see it along there, where a lot of surface samples have been taken. Those surface samples are of rock that outcross at the surface, called rock chip. This was early on. But the 115 highest grade rock chip samples showed an average grade of 0.43 ounces of gold per tonne gold equivalent, just gold and silver. That's pretty impressive. That told us there was something pretty significant going on here.
Now, we've only been able to focus our exploration at this point in time on the 2 kilometers between the El Aire mine and the El Aguila mine, that little box in there. So, all of the exploration that we're talking about has only been done in that area. I also want to point out on this slide that where the infrastructure's grades were 2 kilometers to 3 kilometers off the Pan American highway, so we have the access. There is a [U-round] river, so we had water, the Federal Power Grid, et cetera. So it's a great place to build a mine.
We like to show this satellite photo because you can see the canyon, the steep walled canyon. That's part of this important structural fabric just North 70 West structural zone that's 8 kilometers along. It's a riddle structure. We think that's a feeder vein for this entire 8 kilometers and you can see it there.
This is the 2 kilometers we've been focusing on. At the left side of the screen you can see our open pit. We'll look at that in detail in a minute. You can see a cross-section where we'll look at the cross-section. That's where we start with where we'll get our 70,000 ounces the first year of operation.
Then at the other end, on the right side of this canyon, 2 kilometers away, we're going to be talking about our hybrid veins, La Arista, El Aire and another area that we've discovered. So this kind of gives you an overview. We've not explored everything within these 2 kilometers, but what we have found so far is very exciting.
This is that cross-section through the El Aguila open pit, and I like to show this because it is indicative of a very good open pit mine. On the upper right, you can see where this deposit outcropped at the surface. And the surface sample there was 8.7 grams. This is what I talked about, the surface samples. Our very first drill hole was a drill hole more towards the left 301, 302 and 303. We like to say we discovered the deposit with our very first drill hole.
301 was 60 meters of 6.5 grams gold. Our second drill hole was 6 meters of 16 grams gold. Now that's over 0.5 ounce of gold very near the surface there. And then the third drill hole was 6 meters of 18 grams, almost two thirds of an ounce. So you can see that we obviously were very excited. We went on to drill the balance of this.
And so we like to say our first open pit outcrops at the surface is deep sloped, meaning it's right under the surface, and where it disappears under the surface, it's very shallow, that's only 10 meters space and so it's 30 meters, 40 meters below the surface. This open pit averages 7.45 grams gold per tonne. That's somewhere around five times the average grade of the average open pit. So it's very high-grade. This also helps reduce our cost.
One other thing I want to mention is that in the drilling of our open pit and within the open pit, we intercepted 4 meters of 55 grams gold. That's almost 2 ounces of gold and 700 grams of silver. That we believe is the feeder vein for this manto or flat-line type deposit, and we've not yet really traced that out. But this is one of the excellent reasons why we will have low cost and can start this operation with very low capital.
These deposits turn out to be low sulphidation epithermal type systems. Those systems, from a geologic model, are some of the highest grade deposits in the world, most sought after deposits. So we're in a very good area here.
This is at the other end of the 2 kilometer zone. This is the El Aire vein, which we started drilling. These are pierce points 2 meter, this would be an underground mine, 2 meters that was averaging 0.83 ounces of gold equivalent. I'd like to point out in the bottom right-hand corner that's 3 meter of 1.5 ounce gold equivalent.
So this is a very good vein system and it's open in every direction, but we kind of stopped focusing on this when we discovered our next area, which right now is our highest grade, most mineralized area, the La Arista deposits. The first thing I want to point out is that our vein number 1 has a true width of 8 meters to 10 meters wide. That's a very exceptional, very good underground mining width, 8 meters to 10 meters wide.
You can really get the tonnage out of that. And it's high grade. And we've, of course, converted this to gold equivalent, but you can see just some of this passage, 9 meters of 1.4 ounce gold equivalent, 13.5 meters of 0.9, 11 meters of 0.7 ounces of gold equivalent. This is high-grade. And this, once again, is made up of gold, silver with base metals, and the base metals will pay for the entire cost of operation and will less of the gold and silver.
There is the second vein. I just want to mention La Arista vein number 2 where we've shown just one assay of 4 meters. This vein is 4 meters to 7 meters wide. That 4 meters of 2.2 ounces of gold equivalent is primarily silver. Here is where we hit our highest silver. 1 meter of 5 kilos of silver within 4 meters of 3 kilos of silver, and as you know, Mexico is a silver province. So this is a very exciting situation.
Now, we discovered this and then we did a geomagnetic survey. And when we finished the geomagnetic survey, we saw that there was an anomaly. That's the pink anomaly around our high-grade mineralization. We found the mineralization first, but it's coincident with the magnetic anomaly. So that's positive. But what was really exciting is, up to the right, you can see that there is a second anomaly.
Now, we won't mine as we've gotten over there to drill for a while, but since we saw this other anomaly, we put the first drill hole this year into that. And it was great and very exciting to drill our first drill hole into an anomaly, and we had 3 meters of 2.5 ounce of gold equivalent. That's very high-grade.
In addition, let me just mention that because assaying is so slow, these commercial labs, we only sent out 3 meters for rush assaying, because you have to pay three times the amount. So we could see immediately what we have. I believe this zone will be wider than these 3 meters, but that's a very exciting assay, and it's made up of 25 grams gold, 1.8 kilos of silver, and then, of course it has base metals also. So that was exciting.
Now I just might mention we came out with a press release on Monday of this week that we drilled our second hole into this anomaly and 62 meters below this intersection that came back 2 meters of 2.9 ounces of gold equivalent. So that's very exciting. This obviously erases the potential for all of these anomalies in this area.
This is the magnetic survey map, and you could see where we mention La Arista and El Arroyo, that's our new discovery, but we have several other anomalies. We have a geologic model to explain you. So, it's going to be very exciting to continue to explore this property and test these other anomalies, because right now we're 2 for 2 on these anomalies.
If you were a geologist and you were familiar with epithermal deposits you'd get very excited looking at these pictures. This is classic, the banding, et cetera. So we have a very robust epithermal system. It's over a very large area and we know it's high-grade. So if you want to make a significant discovery, that's what you want to be looking in an area such as what we have here.
So just to kind of wrap-up, again, there is our 2 kilometers. We've not explored everything on this, even the 2 kilometers. But we believe that we are going to come up with at least 2 million ounces of gold equivalent in the near-term in this 2-kilometer corridor. And just very briefly, this is 4 four kilometers of the 8 kilometers that we were talking about earlier. You can see the San Jose Corridor. That's where the 2 kilometers we are drilling. But we have many other targets along here.
Cerro Colorado is identical to our open pit, same silica, same manto, it's much larger. That's the coarse at the top of the ridge. We got it drilled up there and we are getting mineralization back. It looks good. So we have many other things to explore along here, and don't forget this is just half of the 8 kilometers.
All right. Now, I'll briefly mention our second property that we're maybe accelerating, putting that into production is El Rey. And not every geologist can say this, so it's a lot of fun to say we have 1 meter of 4.25 ounces of gold, and that's a gold assay, 1 meter of 4.25 ounces of gold. You can also see another meter of 2 ounces, another meter an ounce, another meter an ounce. These were our first four or five drill holes at this property, and they came in very excitingly. And so we have another drill over there now, and we're trying to focus on drilling out a resource so we can develop an underground mine there.
And like we said, we can't truck ore, this high-grade ore to our mill. So we're looking at evaluating, trying to send some of this high-grade gold ore over to our mill in the first year of operation and increase our production. And I'll just mention that we said we have four properties, we've only drilled two. Two of them are great. We think the other two will be equally as good.
Even though both my brother Dave and I are geologist, we get excited about the geology. We're very production oriented. When we first discovered this deposit, we wanted to make sure there were no fatal flaws. So we did all the metallurgy, et cetera, to make sure that everything was fine. And this has some of the best metallurgy that we've seen.
This is a mill in operation. It's not heap leach. In a mill, ground to a 150 mesh, 72 hours of leaching, you get 94% recovery of the gold and 90% recovery of the silver. Excellent situation. We've basically gone on. We have designed the mill now, 850 tonne per day, location in the 150 tonne per day agitated leach.
And you can see in the bottom right corner here, some of the drawings, the first drawing there show a portable crushing plant. And I might just mention, that's the way we keep our capital cost down is by buying a portable crushing plant and doing things marginally, bringing them in. So we're looking at $20 million CapEx for this milling complex and it's under construction while we're purchasing that equipment and the road is under construction right now, which we'll take a look at.
Okay, so the recent progress, we did our production finally in December. Lyntek of Denver has designed the mill and we're purchasing all equipment. We probably purchased 75% right now. I am comfortable where we are with the lead times, for instance, our Ball Mill, we actually bought a year ago. And we purchased a used mill that was refurbished, then we would have it available to us. And it is setting in Phoenix, Arizona right now ready to be shipped. So we purchased 75% of the equipment already. Things looked real good according to our budget.
I also want to mention the Ejido agreements. Ejido are the local people, agrarian community in the local area. Lot of companies stumble when they try to work with the local company, but as I said we have an excellent team of Mexican nationals in Mexico and they have done a great job. We got our Ejido agreements three or four months ago and the federal government will not give you any permits until you got those Ejido agreements. So we're fine there. And in addition, we purchased our water permit and water well, and so we're moving forward with that. And then, we did receive our first federal permit. We need three permits; the road permit, the mill permit and the open pit, mine permit.
It's the same agency, that same federal agency that gives us all three. They are familiar with everything. We asked to get our road permit first because we have to improve this road before we can start construction of the mill, and, in fact, we got it. And once again, I think, it's a testament to our people in Mexico. So like on February 4th, we made the announcement that we signed a contract with the local contractor, who is building the road and we're moving forward.
So the road construction is underway. We expect remaining permits shortly. We've also purchased some land right next to the little village that's there for us to construct our employee housing, that's under construction. And so, as of February, anyway, we believe we're on target and on budget. And we're looking at producing gold in this by the end of this year.
Okay, just to kind of wrap up. We expect production in 2008 low cost, moving from 70,000 ounces to 120,000 ounces over three years. We plan to build the company with cash flow.
All right. Now, I'm a real believer and you've got to know where you want to end up or you'll never get there. And so we're going to take a look at some ways, some valuation metrics that analyst used to value gold companies. I think you need to know that and then you need to aureate your efforts to put yourself in a position where the market will value you correctly. So we're going to look at three different ways.
First is market cap per annual ounce. If you are public company, you have a market cap. If you are gold producer you have -- you produce so many ounces last year. You divide the two together. It's a very easy number to come up with. But it's a great number because it actually reflects every single thing that the market believes about your company. Political risk, low cost, high cost, debt and it's a great way to look at peer group analysis, and we'll do that. Then, we'll look at dividend payout ratio. I have a personal goal of meaningful dividend if we get to that point and we'll talk about that. And then, we'll wrap-up looking at market cap per annual ounce as demonstrated by recent merger and acquisition activity. So you'll see what we are talking about.
Okay, so now this is hypothetical. What if we produce 100,000 ounces? And what if we produce gold at $100 an ounces? And therefore, what if we put ourselves in the low cost peer group? What might we expect? Now, here is a table of four companies I put together. They are low cost, but I want to point out that this was done in January 2006 when the gold price was $504. The reason I'm doing that is for conservative sake.
So, let's take a look. On that particular month, you could have taken the market cap of Agnico Eagle and divide it by 265,000 ounces and you would come up with $7,500 per ounce of market cap. And you can see how all these are clustered around, in fact, average $6,700 per ounce. So, the low-cost producers, the market was paying $6,700 per every ounce of production.
Now, the line right below that, if you would have averaged that same month 34 high and low cost producers, the average would have only been $2,800 per every ounce produced. So, right here, I'm showing you that the market will pay more for low-cost ounces. Hence, not all ounces are created equal. So in our view, if you're going to create a company, go after the ounces that the market will pay more for.
Then, hypothetically, we can run these numbers. If we do 100,000 ounces at $100 and garner the same market cap as those low-cost producers at that time at $6,700 per annual ounce, that'd be $670 million market cap with 35 million shares outstanding or a $19 stock. So that's where we want to put ourselves. We'll see whether we can achieve that or not, but that's our target.
Now this involves a lot of market forces, which we don't have control over. So let's take a look at another metric where we have more control, and that is what do we do with our cash flow? So now I'm going to run the same numbers, the 100,000 ounces, $100 costs, 650 gold, that would give us a margin of $550 per ounce, which is an annual cash margin of $55 million.
Now, because we expect to be profitable, we estimate one-third for taxes and one-third for growth. Now that's quite a bit of money on a yearly basis, but we can grow this company. We have not doubt that we can grow it with that kind of money. But then we would like to payback one-third to the shareholders.
Well, if we actually did pay a $0.52 a share dividend and you have the right reserve life, that's the caveat, you have to have like 8 to 10 years reserve life, but the market doesn't pay for more than 10 years basically, then the market should assimilate us out to a 2% payout rate. Most gold companies are a 1 to 2% payout. Well, if we were to achieve a 2% payoff rate that would mean we were a $26 stock, all right. Once again, I'm giving you where we want to head, and these are the parameters under which we want to operate.
Now I just mentioned, it's asked a lot of times, well, if you get in a position to pay a dividend will you actually pay it? Well, we believe the answer is yes. And why is that, because management owns 9 million shares of this company. We are a large owner of this company, and that's the difference between owner management and caretaker management. Owner management makes different decisions than caretaker management.
And then this was some merger and acquisition activities that took place last June. We've kind of rounded these numbers to reflect the obvious. Yamana purchased Northern Orion who is producing 100,000 ounces for essentially $1 billion. They purchased Meridian who is producing 300,000 ounces of low-cost ounces for $3 billion. So you can see that essentially if you put yourself in the right position, the market is paying and will pay $1 billion for each 100,000 ounces of low-cost production. Once again, I emphasize that's where we want to end up. And it's my job to get us there and I think I know how to do that.
So, let me just wrap-up by saying that we believe Gold Resource Corporation is positioned for exceptional growth. We're going to emerge in the elite class of low-cost gold producers. We're going to present the market with increasing resources, with increasing production, with increasing cash flow. And I emphasize again that we've engineered this company from day one to maximize shareholder value and we hope you'll join us. Thank you.
Unidentified Audience Member
Okay. The question was our resources. These are internal resources. They are based on the drilling that we've done, a lot of drilling. And at this point in time, if you go back to October of 2007 when we came up with the 770,000 ounces, and if you looked at our press releases and drilling since that time, I think you'd be pretty impressed with all that we've continued to drill.
Essentially, we look at it from the standpoint of years of operation. We got our first year. That's drilled out and detailed 25 meter spacing, that open pit, and that's going to deliver us 70,000 ounces. And then, we've been expanding on our 773,000 ounces, but we're not in a position to mention that number at this point in time, with additional drilling, which you can see if you go to our website. So, we are very comfortable with where we are with our resources.
Unidentified Audience Member
Yeah. The assays were down by Chemex, ALS Chemex, everybody uses them for their certified lab, all Canadians pretty much most of them use them. And that's the problem, they are so busy. So, they actually get assayed in Vancouver. They are prepared by Chemex in Mexico, but then they get I think assayed one of their labs. So, it's their certified lab. Yes.
Unidentified Audience Member
What was the last question?
Unidentified Audience Member
Unidentified Audience Member
Okay. The first question has to do with what's our status in Mexico. Well, first of all, Mexico is one of the best places to be today. When you look at political risk and I think that Fraser study that someone else mentioned ranks Mexico right up there. I'm very pleased to be in Mexico. They have a proud 500 year history of mining. The land tenure in Mexico is better than the United States.
If you are familiar with how you state claims in United States anybody can overstate you and then you got a legal argument. Down in Mexico all of minerals belong to the Mexican nation and you state -- it's not a claim but it's a confession. And then, the country of Mexico says, you have this confession and you can go look in a book and we get an actual almost like a deeds. So, I think Mexico is better off than the United States as far as tenure goes with the mining plans.
I have no fear being nationalized. I think they are very interested in these jobs. They work with us. The federal agencies are working with us to protect the environment, where we enjoy this working together. And we're just very pleased to be there.
Okay, the second question is why are we here telling our story? Okay, I am a firm believer in that if you're a public company, a CEO has two assets groups two husband. One is the operation and one is the marketplace. And if you're a public company, you better take that responsibility seriously. I think CEO should say, "Well, I'll just take care of the business and the market will take care of itself or naïve." So because I've been in public company all my life basically, I know what I have to do and we take one-third of our time. We schedule one-third of our time to be out telling our story. And that's one of the reasons why we've traded over 43 million shares, since we went public. And we're trading 130,000 shares a day is the fact that we take one-third of our time to tell the story. We think we have a great story. We think we have a long way to go and we're going to build a lot of value.
So this is the forum we came to, we had meetings this week in New York City. So like I said, I think it's the CEO's responsibility to get out there and tell the story. We're not looking to raise money. We've already risen our production funding. And I remember like when our stock was $2 to $3, I was telling everybody we're going to do our production funding of $4 and I was very pleased that we did our production funding, it was at $4. So we pretty much have been on schedule with everything we have said so far.
So, we appreciated the opportunity to tell our story. We're a US company. We did not use any investment bankers. I turned down investment bankers. We have raised the money ourselves. And consequently, we're not followed by anybody. There is no investment bank out there telling our story. So it's our responsibility to tell it. But we're very excited where we are at this point. Yes.
Unidentified Audience Member
My previous business experience, yes. My brother and I founded our first company in 1977 called Gold Resource Corporation. We founded US Gold Corporation in 1977 and ran that for 28 years, where we put six mines into production. Four of them we built ourselves, two of we participated with joint venture partners. And these were all in United States; two in Colorado, three in Nevada, and one in California. So our history is putting mines into production. And like I said, in 2005, we sold controlling interest in that company to Rob McEwen, who has taken it forward and, we really enjoy focusing on this company.
All right. Well, thank you very much.