VANCOUVER, British Columbia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Capstone Copper Corp. (�Capstone� or the �Company�) (TSX:CS) today announced production and financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2022 (Q1 2022) and production and cost guidance for the remainder of 2022. Quarterly consolidated copper production totaled 22,500 tonnes at C1 cash costs1 of $2.31 per payable pound of copper produced. Link HERE for Capstone�s Q1 2022 management�s discussion and analysis (�MD&A�) and financial statements and HERE for the webcast presentation.
�It is with great pleasure that I report the inaugural first quarter�s results of the new Capstone Copper, and I would particularly like to take this opportunity to thank everybody in our organization for their tremendous support as we integrate our business. Despite inflationary pressures facing the entire mining industry, Capstone delivered strong financial results, highlighted by adjusted EBITDA of $123 million that included only a nine-day contribution from our Mantoverde and Mantos Blancos mines since the combination took effect on March 23, 2022,� said John MacKenzie, CEO. �This is a transformational year for Capstone as we ramp-up our new Mantos Blancos mill, construct the Mantoverde sulphides project and deliver a District Integration Plan for Santo Domingo with Mantoverde. These are critical steps toward achieving over 40% copper production growth by 2024 and a further 45% when Santo Domingo goes into production. In the context of the current macro-environment we have critically evaluated our business to provide guidance for the remaining 9-months of 2022, and expect to produce 136,000 to 150,000 tonnes of copper at C1 cash costs of $2.55 to $2.70 per pound.�
Q1 2022 OPERATIONAL AND FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS
- The Transaction to combine with Mantos to create Capstone Copper Corp. was completed on March 23, 2022. The Transaction establishes Capstone Copper as a premier copper producer with a diversified portfolio of high-quality, long-life operating assets focused in the Americas with an extensive pipeline of near-term fully-permitted organic growth opportunities.
- Net income of $35.1 million, or $0.08 per share. Adjusted net income1 of $61.1 million or $0.14 per share for Q1 2022, with the main reconciling item for Q1 2022 being $19.9 million of transaction and integration costs related to the Transaction. Operating results include nine days of earnings from operations of the Mantos Blancos and Mantoverde mines.
- Adjusted EBITDA1 of $123.4 million compared to $118.7 million in Q1 2021.
- Operating cash flow before changes in working capital1 of $70.4 million in Q1 2022 compared to $245.0 million in Q1 2021, which includes a $150 million precious metal stream deposit. The variance is related to increased operating cash flow of $21.5 million on copper sales and prices offset by transaction costs of $19.9 million and $22.9 million higher annual tax payment in Mexico related to 2021 income.
- The Company is in a net cash position of $64.9 million and total available liquidity1 is $638.1 million. The balance sheet was further expanded with the acquisition of cash and debt on the Transaction. The net cash position of $64.9 million as at March 31, 2022 consists of cash and short term investments of $413.1 million netted against long term debt of $348.2 million.
- Consolidated copper production of 22,500 tonnes at C1 cash costs1 of $2.31/lb of copper produced for Q1 2022 which consisted of 14,400 tonnes at Pinto Valley, 5,900 tonnes at Cozamin and the balance for the Chilean mines for the nine-day stub period. Mantos Blancos and Mantoverde contributed an additional $0.14 per pound to the consolidated C1 cash costs1; excluding the stub period reporting, Capstone Copper's consolidated C1 cash costs1 were $2.17 per pound.
- Mantos Blancos Concentrator Debottlenecking Project ("MB-CDP") ramp-up to 20,000 tonnes per day (�tpd�) is progressing well. Throughput averaged over 18,000 tpd during the last week of April. The focus is on ramping up to name plate capacity, optimization, and achieving targeted recoveries in Q3 2022.
- Mantoverde Development Project ("MVDP") construction is progressing well with earthworks mostly completed and major construction commenced in late March 2022. Numerous marine cargo shipments of major plant equipment are now en-route to site. The total project capital budget is now estimated to be $825 million compared to previously $787 million. The increase relates to diesel prices impacting pre-stripping costs by $23 million plus additional contingency of $15 million. The majority of the capital costs are fixed due to the nature of the lump sum turn-key contract with Ausenco of $525 million and the purchase of major mining equipment was price fixed prior to the current inflationary environment for approximately $140 million.
- The Mantoverde-Santo Domingo District Integration Plan will outline the approach Capstone Copper is taking to maximize value creation (including synergies) across the district. The integration plan will outline the optimized flowsheet to create a world-class district which is targeted for early Q4 2022 ahead of the Chile analyst tour and Investor Day during the week of November 14th. The Company expects the integration plan to contribute to the feasibility studies for Santo Domingo (H1 2023), Mantoverde Phase II (H2 2023) and Mantoverde & Santo Domingo cobalt and oxides (H2 2023).
- Financial Flexibility enhanced with amendment of Revolving Credit Facility ("RCF") to $500 million plus $100 million accordion. Subsequent to quarter end, the RCF was amended and will become available after all the security is in place and other customary conditions are met, which is expected to occur before July 2022.
Mantos and Capstone Mining Transaction
On November 30, 2021, Capstone Mining announced it had entered into a definitive agreement (the "Agreement") with Mantos to combine, pursuant to a plan of arrangement.
The Transaction was completed on March 23, 2022 and the combined company was renamed Capstone Copper Corp. Capstone Copper is headquartered in Vancouver, B.C. and listed on the TSX. Pursuant to the Agreement, each Capstone Mining shareholder received one newly issued Capstone Copper share per Capstone Mining share (the "Exchange Ratio") and the existing Mantos shareholders maintained their Capstone Copper shares. At completion of the Transaction, former Capstone Mining and Mantos shareholders collectively owned approximately 60.75% and 39.25% of Capstone Copper, respectively, on a fully-diluted basis. Refer to the business combination note in the condensed interim consolidated financial statements.
Following completion of the Transaction, Capstone Copper operates four mines, including two mines run by Mantos Copper in Chile since 2015: The Mantos Blancos (100% owned) open pit copper mine is located forty-five kilometers northeast of Antofagasta in the Antofagasta Region and produces copper concentrate and copper cathodes. The Mantoverde (70% owned) open pit mine is located fifty kilometers southeast of Chanaral, in the region of Atacama and produces copper cathodes. Mantoverde is the site of the MVDP sulphide expansion, currently in construction.
The new Capstone Copper has a broad portfolio of (largely permitted) brownfield projects located at our sites that facilitate disciplined capital allocation and a phased approach to growth.
Refer to Capstone�s Q1 2022 MD&A and Financial Statements for detailed operating results.
Copper production (000s tonnes)
Copper sold (000s tonnes)
Realized copper price ($/pound)
C1 cash costs1 ($/pound) produced
These are alternative performance measures. Refer to the section entitled �Alternative Performance Measures� in the Cautionary Notes
Includes nine days of Mantos Mines production, sales and costs.
Q1 2022 consolidated production of 22,500 tonnes of copper is higher than the 21,700 tonnes in Q1 2021 and primarily relates to addition of nine-day production at the Mantos Blancos and Mantoverde mines.
The main driver for the $0.61/lb increase in C1 cash costs1 in Q1 2022, compared to Q1 2021, is higher unit costs at Pinto Valley plus the inclusion of the Mantos Blancos and Mantoverde mines which impacted consolidated C1 cash costs1 by $0.14/lb. Prior to the inclusion of the Mantos Blancos and Mantoverde results for the stub period, the Capstone Mining results would have been $2.17/lb. C1 cash costs1 increased from $1.70 to $2.17/lb due to $0.12/lb on lower production of 1,400 tonnes, $0.09/lb due to higher TCRC's, $0.05 due to lower by-product revenue and stockpile drawdown and the balance of $0.20/lb due to inflationary pressures.
Pinto Valley Mine
Q1 2022 production decreased by 13% compared to the same period last year due to 11% lower head grades for Q1 2022 (0.32% versus 0.36% in Q1 2021) due to mine sequencing and lower recoveries (82.3% versus 85.7% in Q1 2021) offset partially by higher mill throughput (58,412 tpd in Q1 2022 versus 58,095 tpd in Q1 2021).
An increase in Q1 2022 C1 cash costs1 of $0.66/lb was primarily attributable to lower production ($0.30/lb), higher operating costs related to an inflation price increase on diesel, power, grinding media; increased spend on rental equipment, mining equipment tools, contractors and dust suppression ($0.22/lb) and an increase in treatment and refining rates in 2022 ($0.09/lb).
During the quarter, work progressed on the pre-feasibility study ("PFS") for PV4 which aims to maximize the conversion of approximately one billion tonnes of mineral resources to mineral reserves, significantly extending Pinto Valley�s mine life and increasing the mine�s copper production profile. The PV4 study is focused on modest expansion of existing mill throughput to range of 65,000 to 70,000 tpd with an extended life of mine. The PV4 study is expected to be released in H1 2023. The application of the following new technologies and innovation is being considered:
- Expansion of the use of Jetti catalytic leach technology which has the potential to increase mill cut-off-grades and increase tonnage available for leaching. Column leach and test heap work are ongoing and the results will be included in the PV4 Study. An expanded dump leach strategy would translate to higher grades sent to the mill for processing and increased copper cathode production by expanding dump leach tonnage.
- Pyrite Agglomeration, with strong positive environmental, social and governance ("ESG") implications as it would divert acid-generating minerals including pyrite and chalcopyrite from tailings to the dump leach operation. Additional copper recovery and lower costs via production of sulphuric acid would be key economic drivers for this project.
Q1 2022 production increased by 15% compared to the same period last year mainly due to higher mill throughput (3,704 tpd versus 3,345 tpd in Q1 2021) and head grades (1.84% versus 1.79% in Q1 2021). Recoveries were comparable quarter over quarter.
C1 cash costs1 in Q1 2022 were higher than the same period last year due to planned higher mechanical part spend in order to increase underground equipment availability and reliability and some inflationary pressures on steel and explosives ($0.13/lb), lower zinc by-product credits due to planned lower zinc production ($0.06/lb) and higher treatment and refining costs ($0.03/lb), partially offset by higher copper production (-$0.06/lb).
Mantoverde Development Project
Construction of the MVDP located at the existing Mantoverde (oxide) operation continues to progress well. The MVDP is expected to enable us to process 235 million tonnes of copper sulphide reserves over a 20-year expected mine life, in addition to our existing oxide reserves. The MVDP involves the addition of a sulphide concentrator (12.3 million tonnes per year) and tailings storage facility, and the expansion of our existing desalination plant.
We expect completion of the MVDP to increase production from approximately 49,000 tonnes of copper (cathodes only) in 2021 to approximately 120,000 tonnes of copper (copper concentrate and cathodes) post project completion in 2024. In parallel, C1 cash costs1 are expected to decrease from $2.79/lb in 2021 to under $1.70/lb to $1.80/lb in 2024. The decline in expected costs will be driven by the mine's transition to becoming a primary producer of copper concentrate. The mine will also benefit from the production of approximately 31,000 ounces of gold per year that will generate by-product credits. Upon completion of MVDP, approximately 75% of Mantoverde's production will come from the lower-cost sulphide copper.
MVDP is being progressed under a lump-sum turn-key engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) arrangement with Ausenco Limited, a multi-national engineering, procurement and construction management company, with broad experience in the design and construction of copper concentrator projects of this scale in the international market. The execution plan includes a Capstone Copper owner�s team working with the contractors during the execution phase.
As of April 30, 2022, the MVDP had achieved overall progress of 49% and construction progress of 14% and the schedule remains intact. The target for completion of construction remains late 2023. All contractors have been mobilized to site and all required permits are in place. Work completed in Q1 includes:
- Bulk earthworks for the Primary Crusher and Grinding Area Platforms
- Bypass water pipeline with the internal lining, trench excavation and pipeline installation in the trench
- Drilling for all pumping and monitoring wells at the tailings storage facility ("TSF") allowing for the commencement of the major TSF construction activities
- 13 Komatsu 830E haulage trucks have been received according to plan and are operating at mine site
- Construction camp complete and operational
The costs to date of the major equipment purchases, pre-stripping, owner�s costs and the EPC lump sum turnkey are aligned with the budget. Close ongoing monitoring is being done to identify potential impacts due to an environment marked by COVID-19, stressed logistics chains and inflation in costs.
The total project capital budget is now estimated to be $825 million and spend to date totals $338 million. The EPC contract total budget is approximately $525 million of which $220 million has been spent to date. The total project costs have increased slightly from $787 million to $825 million due to diesel price impact on pre-stripping costs of $23 million plus additional contingency of $15 million. The majority of the capital costs are fixed due to the nature of the lump sum turn-key contract with Ausenco of $525 million or 67% of the original capital. Major mining equipment was price fixed prior to the current inflationary environment for approximately $140 million or 18% of the total original capital.
Mantos Blancos Concentrator Debottlenecking Project
The purpose of the MB-CDP is to increase throughput capacity at the sulphide concentrator plant from 11,000 tpd to 20,000 tpd (or from 4.2 million tonnes per year to 7.3 million tonnes per year).
Construction of the MB-CDP was completed, and includes the modification of certain processes and the installation of new crushers, one new ball mill, four new rougher flotation cells and a new thickener. At quarter-end, the project commissioning is complete and the ramp-up of the project continued to progress. Throughput of the plant averaged over 18,000 tpd during the last week of April, representing over 90% of nameplate capacity.
Looking forward, the focus becomes sustaining throughput at targeted levels, and optimization of the circuit to achieve targeted recoveries in Q3 2022.
Upon completion of the MB-CDP, we expect Mantos Blancos production to increase from approximately 45,000 tonnes of copper in 2021 to approximately 53,000 tonnes of copper in 2023. In parallel, C1 cash costs1 are anticipated to decrease from current guidance of $2.81/lb in 2021 to ~$2.00/lb in 2023 as an even greater share of Mantos Blancos' production is sourced from the lower cost copper concentrate production.
Mantos Blancos Phase II
Mantos Blancos is currently analyzing the potential to increase the throughput of the Mantos Blancos sulphide concentrator plant from 7.3 million tonnes per year to 10.0 million tonnes per year using the existing (currently unused/underutilized) ball mills and process equipment. As part of the Mantos Blancos Phase II Project we are also evaluating the potential to extend the life of copper cathode production. A pre-feasibility study on the Mantos Blancos Phase II Project will be completed in Q2 2022 which will be incorporated into a Feasibility Study (�FS�) in Q4 2022.
Upon closing of the Transaction, the Santo Domingo team has been integrated into the larger Capstone Copper team in Chile. The integrated project team is focused on identifying and evaluating the optimal integrated development plan for the Mantoverde-Santo Domingo district. The Mantoverde operation is located approximately ~30km southwest of the Santo Domingo project. The Company expects the integrated district plan to study alternatives and identify the best path forward to develop the copper (sulphides and oxides), gold, iron, and cobalt across both properties. An integrated development approach is likely to maximize potential synergies associated with the proximity of Santo Domingo to the existing Mantoverde operation, existing infrastructure (including a desalination plant, roads, power, and pipelines), and integration of other assets, such as the Santo Domingo port contract with Puerto Abierto S.A.
The potential synergies the Company expects to be maximized through an optimal integrated district development plan include the following:
- Infrastructure synergies (including desalination plant, power, pipelines, port)
- Integrated mine and process approach
- Construction and supply chain synergies
- Cobalt and sulphuric acid enhancements
- Enabling revenue lines for Mantoverde cobalt and magnetite
- Using excess solvent extraction and electrowinning ("Sx-Ew") capacity
The revenue enhancing opportunities include using excess electrowinning capacity at Mantoverde to potentially process both Santo Domingo oxide material and additional low-grade sulphides enabled by Jetti catalytic leach technologies which Capstone Copper has been first to implement at Pinto Valley. In addition, the potential cobalt plant may unlock cobalt production from Mantoverde while producing a by-product of sulphuric acid which can then be used internally to further significantly lower operating costs on the leaching process at Mantoverde.
Cobalt feasibility study update
The cobalt recovery process consists of a concentration step, an oxidation step, and a cobalt recovery step. The concentration step considers a conventional froth flotation circuit treating copper flotation tails to produce a cobaltiferous pyrite concentrate. For the base case, the pyrite concentrate, which contains between 0.5% and 0.7% Co, is oxidized in a fluidized bed roaster to produce a cobalt calcine and a concentrated sulphuric acid by-product. The calcine is then subjected to various precipitation, leaching, solvent extraction and crystallization steps to produce battery grade cobalt sulphate heptahydrate. At an expected 10.4 million pounds of cobalt production per year, this would be one of the largest and lowest cost cobalt producers in the world. Additional benefits of this project include the generation of carbon-free energy from waste heat emitted by the roaster, and the production of by-product sulphuric acid which can be used for heap or dump leaching to produce low-cost copper cathodes at Mantoverde and elsewhere in the district.
The prefeasibility study is also evaluating different flow sheet alternatives for Cobalt production in consideration of potential synergies between Mantoverde and Santo Domingo. Initial trade-off studies have confirmed the potential of acid pressure oxidation (POX) as a potentially lower cost alternative to roasting. The Company is developing both options in parallel to gain maturity and provide a robust recommendation on the path forward in Q4 2022.
Along the same timeline (Q4 2022) we intend to release an updated cobalt resource for Santo Domingo, as well as an initial cobalt resource for Mantoverde.
Oxide drilling program
Santo Domingo contains oxide ore that could be processed with available capacity of the electrowinning plant at Mantoverde for cathode production. During Q1 2022, the Company developed a preliminary business case and started an exploratory metallurgical program scheduled to be completed in Q3 2022 which will improve the understanding of copper solubility and acid consumption. Subject to positive metallurgical results the company is planning to complete a subsequent oxide drilling program starting in late 2022 to delineate an oxide mineral resource. Ultimately, this work will feed into a further updated Santo Domingo FS in late-2023.
Corporate Exploration Update
Cozamin exploration: The focus during Q1 2022 was on testing the Mala Noche Footwall Zone and Mala Noche Main Vein West Target with one surface rig and one underground rig from the recently completed west exploration crosscut station.
Copper Cities, Arizona: On January 20, 2022, Capstone Mining announced that it had entered into an 18-month access agreement with BHP Copper Inc. ("BHP") to conduct drill and metallurgical test-work at BHP's Copper Cities project ("Copper Cities"), located ~10 km east of the Pinto Valley Mine. In 2022, Capstone Copper plans to spend $6.7 million in a two-phase drill program aimed at twinning historical drill holes, and to select a portion of these for metallurgical testing. Drilling with two surface rigs is on-going.
Planalto, Brazil: Step-out drilling at the Planalto Iron Ore-Copper-Gold prospect in Brazil, under an earn-in agreement with Lara Exploration Ltd., commenced in Q4 2021 and continued in Q1 2022. Lara is conducting the work and will report results when appropriate.
2022 Capstone Copper Catalysts
The following chart highlights key catalysts and deliverables for Capstone Copper. During the planned analyst tour in November, the Company plans to release the following key items:
- MV-SD District Integration plan
- Cobalt - Initial Mantoverde resource and updated Santo Domingo resource
- Cobalt flow sheet recommendation
- Mantos Blancos Phase II feasibility study
CAPSTONE COPPER NINE-MONTH GUIDANCE (APRIL-DECEMBER 2022)
Production and Cash Cost Guidance
During the nine months from April 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022, Capstone Copper expects to produce between 136,000 and 150,00 tonnes of copper at C1 cash costs1 of between $2.55 and $2.70 per pound payable copper produced.
April 1 � December 31, 2022
C1 Cash Costs1
41.0 � 45.0
$2.45 � $2.60
18.0 � 20.0
$1.10 � $1.25
32.0 � 35.0
$1.95 � $2.10
91.0 � 100.0
$2.00 � $2.15
10.0 � 11.0
$3.45 � $3.60
35.0 � 39.0
$3.60 � $3.80
45.0 � 50.0
$3.55 � $3.75
Consolidated Cu Production
136.0 � 150.0
$2.55 � $2.70
*Mantoverde production shown on a 100% basis
The updated C1
Jerrold Annett, SVP, Strategy and Capital Markets
Kettina Cordero, Director Investor Relations & Communications