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Argonaut's record production misses guidance

Argonaut Gold (TSX: AR) has reported record annual output but fell short of guidance and has delayed its 2020 production forecast to February.
Argonaut's record production misses guidance Argonaut's record production misses guidance Argonaut's record production misses guidance Argonaut's record production misses guidance Argonaut's record production misses guidance

Argonaut Gold’s El Castillo complex in Mexico

Staff reporter

The company is aiming to transform from a high-cost junior producer to a lower-cost intermediate producer but has faced a number of hurdles over the past year, including recent permitting setbacks for planned projects.

President and CEO Pete Dougherty said Argonaut's record annual production of 186,615 gold-equivalent ounces for 2019 was a 13% increase year-on-year.

"While we fell short of our 2019 guidance of 200,000 GEOs of production, which was a target that we set for ourselves back in 2017, over the last three years we have grown our production by 53%," he said.

He put the shortfall down to "a number of factors" which contributed to the build-up of leach pad inventory, which was under review.

"We are currently in the process of optimising our operations to maximise profitability and cash flow through cost reduction initiatives," he said.

"This review process has delayed the release of our 2020 guidance to February."

Argonaut operates the El Castillo complex and La Colorada mines in Mexico.

The company plans to outline production and cost guidance on or before the release of its full-year results on February 24. 

In terms of its three emerging projects, Argonaut Gold said it was evaluating a potential non-cash impairment on the book value of its San Antonio project "given the uncertainty surrounding the timing" after a recent permitting setback.
It also said the Mexican environmental authority would not approve a unified technical document for its planned Cerro del Gallo project and had requested minor revisions, which Argonaut planned to resubmit in the first quarter of 2020.
In good news, it said it had executed a community agreement with Michipicoten First Nation, its fifth First Nation community agreement regarding the Magino project in Ontario.

However it has consulted with the Garden River First Nation "for multiple years with the aim of coming to a reasonable agreement", Argonaut added.

The company finished 2019 with US$39 million in cash and $10 million in debt, according to a presentation this month.

Its shares, which were as low as C$1.37 a year ago before rising to $2.87 in August, fell 12.5% or 24c yesterday to $1.68, capitalising Argonaut Gold at $301.5 million (US$230.7 million).