Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 27, 2011 11:00 am ET


Eberhard W. Scherkus - President, Chief Operating Officer, Director and Member of Health, Safety & Environment Committee

Unknown Executive -

Sean Boyd - Vice Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Executive Officer of Sudbury Contact


John Tumazos - Independent Research

Haytham Hodaly - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Anita Soni - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Don MacLean - Paradigm Capital, Inc., Research Division

Steven Butler - Canaccord Genuity, Research Division

David Haughton - BMO Capital Markets Canada



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Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. Third Quarter 2011 Results Webcast Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would like to remind everyone that this conference call is being recorded today, Thursday, October 27, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

I will now turn the conference over to Mr. Sean Boyd. Please go ahead, sir.

Sean Boyd

Thank you, Operator, and good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining our Q3 conference call. We got our full team here in Toronto and what I would like to do is take you through a series of slides and then we'd be happy to open it up for questions and talk about Goldex and Meadowbank. That will be the focus largely of the presentation today as we talk about the impact of Goldex and our decision around writing off Goldex and also talk about Meadowbank and what we need to do there to improve our performance.

If we look at the quarter, as a whole, we did have a record cash flow despite some of our challenges at Meadowbank and the decision we made to suspend production at Goldex. We did see some really good performance at some of our other assets, including Pinos Altos that had record gold production.

At Finland, we did a good job reducing our costs. We'll talk about that as well. We had record throughput. We maintained our recoveries. At Meadowbank, although we did increase the throughput and our mining rate was up, our cash costs are still too high, and we'll talk about that.

And Goldex, as we've said in our last week's call and we'll talk a little bit about that again today, we did decide to suspend our production indefinitely. And essentially, that results in us taking out one of our better performers. In Q3, they produced 40,000 ounces at a cash cost of $411 an ounce. So going forward, having to remove one of our lowest cost producers and a steady performer, which is about 15% of our production, is clearly going to impact not only our production but our overall total company wide cash costs.

Look at the financial results. As I indicated, we had record cash flows of about $200 million, about $1.17 per share. Our production in the quarter was up about 11% from where it was in Q2. So we saw continued improvement in some of our operations at 266,000 ounces. As we look forward to Q4, we expect our production to be slightly down from the Q3 number and largely the result of the absence of Goldex in the fourth quarter.

Our Q3 cash costs were $563 (sic) [$563 per ounce]. If we look out to the fourth quarter, they should be a bit higher than that, given the fact we're removing Goldex's low cost ounces.

From an earnings perspective, on a normalized basis, we came in at $0.60. We have taken a charge for Goldex. The total Goldex charge amounted to, on an after-tax basis, $194 million or $1.14 per share, and I'll talk a little bit about some of those details in a minute.

[indiscernible] of breakdown of operating results. We can see the impact of Goldex, again, producing about 40,000 ounces at a cost of $4.11, so that's about 15% of our production. So we lose that going forward.

As we look on out Meadowbank, clearly our biggest producer but also our highest cost producer, so we have work to do there to reduce those costs, being our biggest producer after losing our Goldex low cost ounces. So we'll talk a little bit about what we're going to do there as we go forward in the presentation.

Financial position remains strong, over $100 million in cash. Our long-term debt at $650 million and our available credit facility is over $1 billion available on our credit facility.

Common shares outstanding, about $170 million, fully diluted $187 million, but our warrants and our options are out of the money now. So we'll be looking more at the fully -- or the basic number of $169 million.

Grayd bid, we did amend it, given the impact that Goldex had on our valuation. We essentially just doubled the cash component of the bid. We would expect that people will take up probably more cash now. What that will do is result in us issuing less shares likely. Probably on a fully diluted basis, we have to issue about 1.4% of our float to complete this offer. What this property gives us is something very close to Pinos Altos, where we can use our operating team there to build about 100,000 ounces of annual production at La India with a large land package and discovery on the Tarachi property, which we believe has some good upside and the bid expires on November 18.

As far as the mines go, LaRonde, still a flagship asset, still a strong cash generator. It's in a transition phase now from the upper mine to the lower mine. That project started about 5 years ago. And essentially, the objective there was to access the higher grade deeper zones below the existing mine area. And that sets us up for future production growth, where we expect to more than double our output to around 300,000 ounces as we transition -- make a full transition from the upper mine to the lower mine. So that project was on time and on budget and speaks to the technical skills that we have up in that region working on such a complex deep project.

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