Allied Nevada Gold's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Allied Nevada Gold Corp. (ANV)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 27, 2012 08:00 AM ET

Executives

Tracey Thom – VP, IR

Scott Caldwell – President and CEO

Hal Kirby – EVP and CFO

Analysts

Sam Crittenden – RBC Capital Markets

Brian Christie – Desjardins Securities

Steven Butler – Canaccord Genuity

John Tumazos – John Tumazos Very Independent Research

Tara Hassan – National Bank Financial

Shawn Campbell – Macquarie

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Allied Nevada 2011 Year-end Financial Results Conference Call. At this time, all lines are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session with instructions provided. I would like to remind everyone that this conference call is being recorded today, Monday, February 27, 2012 at 8 A.M. Eastern Time.

And I would now turn the conference over to Tracey Thom, Vice President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Tracey Thom

Thank you very much. Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us this morning. We’ve issued two press releases this morning one related to the 2011 year-end financials and the second one related to the results of a preliminary economic assessment for our Hasbrouck project in Nevada.

On the call, Scott Caldwell, President and CEO; and Hal Kirby, Vice President and CFO, will discuss the results of both the PEA and the year-end financials.

Before we begin, I’d like to remind everybody that certain statements we’ll make during this call may contain forward-looking information. For additional information, I refer listeners to the cautionary statements regarding forward-looking information contained in our press releases and on our website.

I’d now like to turn the call over to Scott Caldwell.

Scott Caldwell

Thank you, Tracey, and good morning to everybody on the line. And I’d like to thank you for spending some time with us first thing this morning.

So, 2011 was another exciting year for Allied. The entire company continues to have excellent performance in the health, safety and environmental area. The performance really is a credit to the men and women that are working out of Hycroft and our other projects, including Hasbrouck.

The Hycroft line produced over 100,000 ounces of gold and 470,000 ounces of silver over the course of the year. Our gold sales lagged production really due to a growth in inventory ounces. This month, so, through the year-end, the end of this month, so through February, we’re informed by an official processing our offsite processing facility that they no longer accept our carbon and, therefore, liberate our gold offsite. And as of today, we have approximately 13,000 ounces of gold on carbon.

We’re working on ways to remedy that it’s up to an including building our own and carbon strip facility. We’re going to look through that and also talking to other outside people that my indeed process our carbon. Gold’s not going anywhere. It’s just locked up in carbon for now.

Our adjusted cash cost for the year was still looking very nice at $488 an ounce. The silver-to-gold ratio continues to increase. And the increase in silver production as a by-product credit, of course, it’s a real help to our operating costs.

Costs were at the high end of our guidance, again, due to a couple of things. Primarily, the mining equipment delays that we’ve been suffering through all-year long, again, the tragic events in Japan delayed some shovels and we’re forced to run smaller, less efficient loading units and trucks to keep more ore flow moving but we weren’t able to nearly mine what we wanted to.

So, anyway, fewer tons at higher costs, so that’s kind of impacting our cost profile, otherwise, it wouldn’t even look better than the $488. Just talk about the arrival of the first large shovel to get a complete month, we actually have two running now, but the first complete month with one of the big shovels running, our mining cost on a unit basis has basically declined 30%. It was a combination of lower operating costs because of the new piece of equipment and not running the smaller stuffs but just as importantly mining more tons.

Moving on to the gross side of our story and Tracey’s talked a little bit about one of the things I’m going to speak to, but the heap leach expansion at Hycroft is growing well, going very well; the Lewis pad which is about 3 million square feet in the first Merrill Crow plant expansion which takes us from 5,000 gpm to about 8,000 gallons per minute. We’re completing over the course of the year two, as I mentioned, two large hydraulic shovels that are operational now. The first is operational at the end of the year, the second shortly thereafter. And the third shovel is due to arrive at site in the second quarter of 2012. Now, we’ll see what happens there. And we believe it will show up. But we really don’t know until we get a shipping date. So, we’ll see what happens there.

Anyway, through arrival of this equipment, the plant mining rate will increase to about 80 million tons per annum once that third shovel is there. The drills are in place, the trucks are there, so we’re really just kind of waiting on that shovel.

Moving further down the growth story, we completed a feasibility study demonstrating the viability of the Hycroft mill expansion in October of the year. Our Board of Directors approved funding to advance the project. And to date, and this is a press release we had, a few ago weeks ago, we’ve purchased large equipment long lead items totaling about $350 million. And if you looked at the feasibility study for the same items, this $350 million was about 2% under the feasibility estimate. The equipment purchases, again, we’ve mentioned this previously, we have an equipment lease arrangement with Caterpillar and Komatsu and Bank of America totaling about $300 million.

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