Centerra lifts dividend on strong Q2

Kumtor in the frame as COVID-19 situation evolves

Staff reporter
 Centerra Gold’s Öksüt mine in Turkey achieved commercial production in Q2

Centerra Gold’s Öksüt mine in Turkey achieved commercial production in Q2

However it warned the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to have an impact on its Kumtor mine in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The company reported adjusted net earnings of US$97.8 million, or 33c per share, for the June quarter, on production of 219,692 ounces of gold and 19.1 million pounds of copper.

CIBC Equity Research had upgraded Centerra from "neutral" to "outperformer" in June based on what it saw as the miner's potential to outperform peers, plus had tipped the possibility of an increased dividend payout.

Centerra's lowest-cost mine for the quarter was Öksüt in Turkey, which achieved commercial production during the period and posted all-in sustaining costs on a by-product basis of $537/oz.

"Company-wide, free cash flow in the second quarter of 2020 was $169.1 million and we finished the quarter with cash of $212.2 million and no debt outstanding after repaying our corporate revolving credit facility in the quarter," president and CEO Scott Perry said.

The company made no change to its 2020 production and cost guidance but upwardly revised its capital spending guidance, excluding capitalised stripping, from $169 million to $192 million.

It was continuing to "proactively monitor" the evolving COVID-19 situation.

It said while the majority of its operating sites were currently operating without significant interruption, there had been an increase in the infection rates of COVID-19 and other illnesses in the Kyrgyz Republic which was beginning to have an impact on the available workforce for the Kumtor mine.

"While Kumtor's performance during the second quarter was unaffected, the company is putting in place measures to manage the reduced workforce at Kumtor by mining waste below capacity while maintaining gold production levels by processing stockpiles as planned for the year," it said.

Sustaining capex was estimated at $132 million rather than $109 million, mainly due to buying 11 extra haul trucks for Kumtor.

Centerra expected to release an updated technical report for Kumtor within months.

It also said it was cooperating with authorities regarding the criminal investigations which were required following the two fatalities in December and one in February at Kumtor.

In Canada, the company noted there had been a "robust spring melt" at Mount Milligan, resulting in stored water inventory of more than 6 million cubic metres at the end of June.

Higher water sourcing costs for the operation in British Columbia were among the issues cited in a reworked resource model and mine plan in March which had sliced about 2Moz from its reserves base.

Centerra's shares (TSX: CG) hit a one-year high of C$16.85 on Friday and closed up 6% to $16.80, capitalising it at $4.9 billion (US$3.6 billion).

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