Aurizon Mines (ARZ-T, AZK-X) boosts its first-quarter profit by 238% as it maintained production levels and benefited from higher gold prices.
The Quebec-focused miner earned $8.3 million or 5¢ per share, compared to $2.4 million, or 2¢ a share, a year ago.
Revenue from its sole producing mine, Casa Berardi, grew 20% to $56.8 million from the sale of 33,364 oz. gold, despite the producer selling roughly a thousand ounces less than the same period last year.
The average realized gold price was US$1,692 per oz., up US$300 per oz. from the comparable period, which bumped up operating margin per oz. by 31% to US$1,011 for the quarter.
The higher bullion price also helped grow EBITBA by 74% to $22.3 million.
Casa Berardi produced 33, 488 oz. gold during the first three months of the year, which was slightly below the mine plan and at higher unit operating costs of $152 per tonne.
This 18% rise in costs was due to difficult ground conditions and a shortage of shotcrete equipment, the company explains in a statement.
However, the miner was able to maintain output levels due to higher daily ore throughput and grade. Throughput averaged 1,180 tonnes per day grading 6.99 grams gold, compared to the 1,789 tonnes per day averaging 6.85 grams, a year ago.
“Casa Berardi continues to deliver solid operating margins for us and we are well advanced on the capital works programs scheduled for this year at the mine to realize its future potential,” Aurizon’s president and CEO George Paspalas said.
The company estimates spending $80 million this year on improving the Casa Berardi operation. The three big capital projects at the mine include: shaft sinking, building a paste backfill plant to allow for more flexibility mining the higher-grade ore and replacing mobile equipment.
The debt-free miner has budgeted another $9.4 million at Casa Berardi for exploration this year. The company has a cash balance of $199 million.
Aurizon has reiterated its 2012 production guidance of 155,000 to 160,000 oz. at total cash costs of US$600 per oz.
On the first-quarter results, Aurizon dropped 4.5% to close the day in Toronto at $5.07 a share.
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