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Aura Minerals Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2011 Financial and Operating Results
Published : March 28, 2012
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VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 28, 2012) - Aura Minerals Inc. ("Aura Minerals" or the "Company") (News - Market indicators) today announced financial and operating results for the fourth quarter and full year 2011. All dollar amounts are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise specified.

Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2011 Financial and Operating Highlights:

  • Gold production of 43,863 ounces and 160,159 ounces in the fourth quarter and full year 2011, respectively, with full year 2011 production being 16% higher than 2010;
  • Average on-site cash cost1 per ounce of gold produced of $1,274 and $1,106 in the fourth quarter and full year 2011, respectively, were adversely affected by the failure of the primary jaw crusher at the Sao Francisco Mine in late-November, and are comprised of the following:
  For the
three months ended
December 31, 2011
For the
twelve months ended
December 31, 2011
 
  Ounces
Produced
Cash Costs1 Ounces
Produced
Cash Costs1
             
San Andres Mine 13,201 $ 1,110 60,870 $ 837
Sao Francisco Mine 17,555   1,591 56,286   1,299
Sao Vicente Mine 13,107   1,015 43,003   1,235
Total / Average 43,863 $ 1,274 160,159 $ 1,106
  • Copper production at the Aranzazu Mine for the fourth quarter and full year 2011 of 2,856,500 pounds and 7,695,300 pounds, respectively, with fourth quarter production increasing 25% over the prior quarter's production;
  • Revenue of $85.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, an increase of 49% over the fourth quarter of 2010, and comprising net gold sales of $75.5 million from 46,105 ounces and $10.3 million from the shipment of 4,711 dry metric tonnes ("DMT") of copper concentrate;
  • Revenue of $288.4 million in 2011, an increase of 76% over 2010, and comprising net gold sales of $257.1 million from 165,836 ounces and $31.3 million from the shipment of 13,455 DMT of copper concentrate;
  • On-site average cash cost1 per pound of payable copper produced, net of gold and silver credits, of $2.32 and $2.82, respectively, for the fourth quarter and full year 2011. With increasing levels of production in each quarter of 2011, cash costs1 decreased 33%, 23% and 8%, respectively, in the second, third and fourth quarters over each of the prior quarters;
  • Loss for the fourth quarter and full year 2011 of $10.1 million or $0.04 per share and $41.8 million or $0.19 per share, respectively;
  • Adjusted loss1 for the fourth quarter of $6.8 million or $0.03 per share and adjusted loss1 for the year ended December 31, 2011 of $6.0 million or $0.03 per share, after adjusting for write-downs of inventory, impairment charges, unrealized foreign exchange losses and other non-recurring revenue and expense items;
  • Ended the fourth quarter of 2011 with $22.5 million in cash and cash equivalents and $5 million available under the $25 million revolving credit facility ("Credit Facility"), and subsequent to year- end, the Company is in negotiations to amend the Credit Facility, which would include an extension of the maturity to June 30, 2014 and an increase to the revolving credit available to $45 million;
  • Announced new business plans for the Brazilian Mines on November 10, 2011, based on updated geological models for those mines. The new business plans feature optimized mine plans and lives, with operations at the Sao Vicente Mine and Sao Francisco mine extending through 2013 and 2015, respectively;
  • After quarter end, established a gold hedge program covering a total of 80,000 ounces of gold between April 1, 2012 and June 30, 2014, using zero-cost put/call collars with a floor price of $1,700/oz and an average ceiling price of $1,812/oz;
  • Updated the resource estimate on October 17, 2011 for the Aranzazu Mine, increasing tonnes of measured and indicated resources at a 0.8% Cu cut-off by 25%, as compared to the September 2010 resources estimate and based on similar average copper, gold and silver grades. It should be noted that the updated resource estimate was based on an amount of drilling that did not reach the limit of the ore body, which is still open along strike and at depth. As a result, a preliminary economic assessment ("Aranzazu PEA") study is underway based on evaluating an expanded throughput rate of up to 5,000 tonnes per day ("tpd");
  • Continued work on the feasibility study (the "Serrote Feasibility Study") for the Serrote de Laje project ("Serrote Project"), which is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2012; and
  • Updated the resource and reserve estimates effective December 31, 2011 for the San Andres Mine, increasing tonnes of proven and probable reserves from 32.22 million tonnes as at December 31, 2010 to 45.76 million tonnes, representing a 33% increase in contained gold ounces.

"Despite experiencing several operational challenges during 2011, we continue to make significant progress towards improving our operations and advancing our projects," stated Jim Bannantine, President and CEO of Aura Minerals. "At the Aranzazu Mine, mill and equipment availability were increased by adding skilled maintenance personnel and bringing in an experienced maintenance manager as well as increasing training. Alternate feeder arrangements were made to improve the processing of fine wet ore, and an experienced mine manager was contracted. The result was a steady ramp-up in ore mined, head grades, process recoveries, and concentrate production, accompanied by significant decreases in costs in each quarter.

At the San Andres Mine, the Company has taken several mitigating steps to improve production, including replacing the primary crusher wobbler during the first quarter of 2012 with a vibrating grizzly screen ahead of the jaw crusher to improve plant operating time, throughput and efficiency. More importantly, in February 2012, a new mine contractor with a proven track record and a fleet of 40 tonne articulated trucks that can safely operate in wet weather conditions, was commissioned to take over the mining operations with the aim of improving all aspects of mining operations.

For the Sao Vicente and Sao Francisco Mines, our teams implemented the new mine plans, based on the new geological modeling, to optimize production and reduce strip ratios, and thereby reduce costs. The results are already showing at the Sao Vicente Mine with decreasing cash costs as compared to prior quarters. At the Sao Francisco Mine, the failure of the primary crusher main bearing and structural failure of the crusher feed bin resulted in the operation not having use of the primary crusher for 47 days, prevented us from realizing the benefits of the improved ore grades and lower strip ratios, but the crusher was rebuilt and re-installed in late-March 2012 and is now back in operation. We are now looking forward to getting this operation back on plan in the months ahead and becoming a significant generator of cash. In connection with the mine plans at the Brazilian mines, we implemented a gold hedging program in late February to take advantage of high gold prices at the time and secure cash flows at these operations. We have hedged 80,000 ounces of gold production through June 2014, using a series of zero-cost collars having a floor price of $1,700 per ounce and an average ceiling price of $1,812 per ounce.

With an improved outlook for cash generation this year from our asset portfolio, combined with lower capital expenditures than in past years, and the credit facility upsizing which we expect to close in April, we are better positioned for the next stages of the Company's growth. This includes increasing the Aranzazu Mine throughput level to up to 5,000 tpd, subject to a positive Aranzazu PEA, with internal capital provided by the Brazilian mines over the next three years, and developing the Serrote Project to significantly increase the size of the Company, subject to a positive Serrote Feasibility Study."

1 See cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measures.

Financial Review

The following financial information does not constitute management's discussion and analysis ("MD&A") as contemplated by relevant securities rules and should be read in conjunction with the Company's annual audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2011, which are available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com under the Company's profile or on the Company's website.

The following table presents a summary of financial information for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2011 and 2010:


(In thousands of dollars,
except per share amounts)
Three months
ended
Dec. 31, 2011
Three months
 ended
 Dec. 31, 2010

 Year ended
Dec. 31, 2011

 Year ended
 Dec. 31, 2010
  (Unaudited) (Unaudited) (Audited) (Audited)
                 
Revenues $ 85,750   57,735 $ 288,440   163,652
Cost of goods sold   (82,044)   (46,104)   (264,210)   (138,248)
Gross profit   3,706   11,631   24,230   25,404
 
Expenses                
  General and administrative expenses   (4,577)   (7,520)   (25,518)   (30,306)
  Exploration expenses   (3,779)   (5,811)   (13,203)   (24,157)
  Impairment charge - Brazilian Mines   -   (24,276)   (38,534)   (24,276)
  Impairment charge - resource properties   -   (681)   -   (681)
  Finance costs   (1,082)   (1,387)   (4,553)   (4,566)
  Interest and other (expense) income   (523)   12   (265)   721
  Gain on restructuring of contractual obligations   -   -   17,009   -
  Other gains (losses)   (3,580)   1,395   (434)   6,305
Loss before income taxes   (9,835)   (26,637)   (41,268)   (51,556)
  Income tax expense   (286)   (198)   (508)   (6,845)
Loss for the period $ (10,121) $ (26,835) $ (41,776) $ (58,401)
 
Adjustments:                
  Unrealized foreign exchange losses (gains)   162   (969)   (3,019)   (73)
  Other unrealized gains and losses   (2,621)   -   (2,072)   -
  Share-based payment expense   737   1,628   7,297   11,377
  Writedown of inventory to net realizable value   5,066   549   12,029   3,737
  Impairment charge - Brazilian mines   -   24,957   38,534   24,957
  Gain on restructuring of contractual obligations   -   -   (17,009)   -
  Non-recurring transaction costs   -   -   -   2,335
Adjusted loss1 for the period $ (6,777) $ (670) $ (6,016) $ (16,068)
 
Basic and diluted loss per share $ (0.04) $ (0.13) $ (0.19) $ (0.29)
 
Adjusted loss1 per share $ (0.03) $ (0.00) $ (0.03) $ (0.08)
1 See cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measures.        

Gold ounces sold for the respective periods, the average realized prices per ounce and net sales are detailed in the following table. The average realized prices per ounce for the three months ended December 31, 2011 and 2010 compare to the average market prices (London PM Fix) of $1,688 and $1,367, respectively. The average realized prices per ounce for the twelve months ended December 31, 2011 and 2010 compare to the average market prices (London PM Fix) of $1,572 and $1,225, respectively.

  Three months
 ended
 Dec 31, 2011
Three months
 ended
Dec 31, 2010
Twelve months
 ended
 Dec 31, 2011
Twelve months
 ended
Dec 31, 20101
                 
San Andes Mine, (ounces)   15,921   19,172   65,988   69,643
Sao Francisco Mine, (ounces)   17,156   13,052   55,559   34,109
Sao Vicente Mine, (ounces)   13,028   10,319   44,289   27,936
Total ounces sold during Quarter   46,105   42,543   165,836   131,688
                 
Realized average gold price per ounce $ 1,669 $ 1,371 $ 1,572 $ 1,255
                 
Gold sales revenues (in '000's) net of local sales taxes $ 75,468 $ 57,735 $ 257,147 $ 163,652
Copper concentrate sales (in '000's)   10,282   -   31,293   -
Total net sales (in '000's) $ 85,750 $ 57,735 $ 288,440 $ 163,652
1 For the Sao Fransciso Mine and the Sao Vicente Mine, following the date of acquisition of the mines on April 30, 2010.

Copper concentrate sales in the above table comprised shipments for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2011 of 4,711 DMT and 13,455 DMT, respectively. Payable metal from copper concentrate for the three months then ended includes 2,462,000 pounds of copper, 1,242 ounces of gold and 30,008 ounces of silver, and payable metal for the twelve months then ended includes 6,764,000 pounds of copper, 4,884 ounces of gold and 98,710 ounces of silver. Of the shipments made in the twelve months ended December 31, 2011, 367 DMT containing payable metal of 183,223 pounds of copper, 153 ounces of gold and 3,313 ounces of silver were sold in the month prior to the declaration of commercial production and were applied against the cost of property, plant and equipment. Accordingly, copper concentrate sales are comprised as follows:

 
 
 
(In thousands of dollars)
Three months
 ended
December 31,
 2011
Three months
 ended
December 31,
 2010
Twelve months
 ended
December 31,
 2011
Twelve months
 ended
December 31,
 2010
                 
Copper revenue, net of treatment and refining charges $ 7,357 $ - $ 21,901 $ -
Gold by-product revenue   2,069   -   7,850   -
Silver by-product revenue   931   -   3,384   -
Price adjustments recorded   (75)   -   (888)   -
Total revenue $ 10,282 $ - $ 32,247 $ -
                 
Less: pre -production revenue applied against property, plant and equipment cost   -   -   (954)   -
Total revenue recorded in the statement of income $ 10,282 $ - $ 31,293 $ -

For the quarter and year ended December 31, 2011, the Company recorded cost of goods sold of $82.0 million and $264.2 million, respectively, including non-cash depletion and amortization charges of $18.7 million and $55.8 million for the three and twelve month periods then ended. Gross profit for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2011 were $3.7 million and $24.2 million, respectively. These compare to a gross profit of $11.6 million and $25.4 million for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, respectively.

Other expense items for the fourth quarter of 2011 include general and administrative expenses of $4.6 million and exploration expenses of $3.8 million. Other expense items for 2011 include general and administrative expenses of $25.5 million and exploration expenses of $13.2 million. General and administrative costs for the quarter and year included share-based compensation expense of $0.7 million and $7.3 million, respectively. Since year end 2011 management has taken steps to reduce general and administrative expenses by up to 20%.

Additionally, for the fourth quarter of 2011, the Company recorded finance costs of $1.1 million, interest and other expenses of $0.5 million, and other losses of $3.6 million. Loss before income taxes for the fourth quarter of 2011 was $9.8 million. For 2011, the Company recorded finance costs of $4.6 million, interest and other expenses of $0.3 million, and other losses of $0.4 million. Other 2011 income and expenses items include in a gain on the restructuring of certain contractual obligations of $17.0 million, which was recorded in the first quarter of the year, and an impairment charge of $38.5 million related to the assets and goodwill of the Sao Francisco and Sao Vicente Mines, which was recorded in the third quarter of the year. Loss before income taxes for 2011 was $41.3 million.

For the fourth quarter and 2011 year, the Company recorded a net loss of $10.1 million or $0.04 per share and $41.8 million or $0.19 per share, respectively. Adjusted loss1 for the fourth quarter was $6.8 million or $0.03 per share and adjusted loss1 for the year ended December 31, 2011 of $6.0 million or $0.03 per share.

Liquidity and Capital Resources

As at December 31, 2011, the Company's working capital was $83.8 million, including cash and cash equivalents of $22.5 million. In addition, the Company had $5 million available under its $25 million Credit Facility. During the year ended December 31, 2011, working capital increased by $33.2 million. The working capital increase is primarily attributable to the restructuring of debt completed in the first quarter of 2011 and the inventory build-up at the Sao Francisco Mine following the resumption of normal operations early in the second quarter.

The Company is in negotiations to amend the Credit Facility, which would include an extension of its maturity to June 30, 2014 and an increase in the revolving credit available to $45.0 million. Closing of the amended credit facility is expected to be in April 2012.

Operational and Project Review

San Andres Mine

The table below sets out selected operating information for the San Andres Mine for the fourth quarter and year-to-date 2011 and 2010:

Operating Information   Q4 2011   Q4 2010   YTD 2011   YTD 2010
                 
Ore mined (tonnes)   947,000 1,293,200 4,309,100 4,742,700
Waste mined (tonnes)   509,200   297,000 1,718,100   935,800
Total mined (tonnes)   1,456,200 1,590,200 6,027,200 5,678,500
                 
Waste-to-ore ratio   0.54   0.23   0.40   0.20
                 
Ore plant feed (tonnes)   947,100 1,303,600 4,313,100 4,768,800
Grade (g/tonne)   0.60   0.73   0.73   0.72
                 
Production (ounces)   13,201   19,469   60,870   70,640
Sales (ounces)   15,921   19,172   65,988   69,643
                 
Average cash cost per ounce of gold produced1 $ 1,110 $ 562 $ 837 $ 589
1 See cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measures.

Gold production at the San Andres Mine in the fourth quarter and 2011 year, of 13,201 ounces and 60,870 ounces of gold, respectively, was down 32% and 14% from the fourth quarter and full year 2010. Lower gold production during the quarter and year is primarily attributable to the continued impact of processing lower-recovery mixed ore that had a higher component of clay alteration, which typically results in lower ore movement from the mine, and downtime associated with the processing of wet ore and cleaning of chutes, as well as, poor contractor performance. The Company has taken several mitigating steps to improve production, including replacing the primary crusher wobbler during the first quarter of 2012 with a vibrating grizzly screen ahead of the jaw crusher to improve plant operating time, throughput and efficiency. Starting in February 2012, a new mine contractor with a proven track record, has been commissioned to take over the mining operations with the aim of improving mining operation reliability and productivity and safety. During the transition period, the previous contractor will remain to ensure production is not impacted. The new contractor has a fleet of 40 tonne articulated trucks that can safely operate in wet weather conditions to ensure productivity goals can be achieved.

Operating cash costs1 of $1,110 per ounce of gold produced in the fourth quarter of 2011 compare to $562 per ounce in the fourth quarter of 2010. For the full year, 2011 cash costs1 of $837 per ounce of gold produced compare to $589 per ounce in 2010. Increased cash costs1 over the fourth quarter and full year 2010 are primarily a result of significantly higher strip ratios and lower recovery rates from treating mixed ore, both of which impacted gold production, and higher unit operating costs.

As stated above, the Company has updated the mineral resource and reserve estimates for the San Andres Mine as at December 31, 2011 (the "December 2011 Resource and Reserve Estimate").

The table below presents the updated mineral resource estimate of 98.94 million tonnes of measured and indicated mineral resources at an average grade of approximately 0.51 g/t gold and inferred mineral resource of 1.9 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.51 g/t gold, using a long term US$1,500 per ounce gold price and a cut-off grade of 0.28 g/t gold for oxide ore and 0.37 g/t gold for mixed ore. The resource pit shell optimization did not consider any sulphide material.

1 See cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measures.

Mineral Resource Estimate as at December 31, 2011

   Oxide   Mixed   Total 
Resources Tonne
(t)'000
 
Au (g/t)
Ounces
'000
Tonne
(t)'000
 
Au (g/t)
Ounces
'000
Tonne
(t)'000
 
Au (g/t)
Ounces
'000
Category
Measured 54,272 0.47 818 13,604 0.61 265 67,877 0.50 1,082
Indicated 20,101 0.47 306 10,962 0.69 243 31,062 0.55 549
Measured +
Indicated
 
74,373
 
0.47
 
1,124
 
24,566
 
0.64
 
508
 
98,939
 
0.51
 
1,631
Inferred 1,557 0.44 22 361 0.82 10 1,918 0.51 32
Note:                  
1. A cut-off grade of 0.28 g/t Au for oxide ore and 0.37 g/t Au for mixed ore;
2. Mineral resources are inclusive of mineral reserves; and
3. Numbers may not add up due to rounding.

The change in total measured and indicated mineral resources from 2010 to 2011 reflects a decrease in the cut-off grade for oxide material from 0.31 g/t Au to 0.28 g/t Au; an increase in the mixed cut-off grade from 0.31 g/t Au to 0.37 g/t Au; the exclusion of any sulphide mineralization; and the depletion of mineral resources due to mining during 2011.

The table below presents the updated mineral reserve estimate of 45.76 million tonnes of proven and probable mineral reserves at an average grade of 0.53 g/t gold, using a long term US$1,250 per ounce gold price and a cut-off grade of 0.34 g/t gold for oxide ore and 0.45 g/t gold for the mixed ore.

Mineral Reserves Estimate as at December 31, 2011

  Oxide Mixed Total ore

Ore
Tonne
(t)'000
Au
(g/t)
oz
'000
Tonne
(t)'000
Au
(g/t)
oz
'000
Tonne
(t)'000
Au
(g/t)
oz
'000
Proven 27,832 0.52 465 5,703 0.63 116 33,536 0.54 581
Probable 9,629 0.49 152 2,598 0.61 51 12,227 0.52 203
Proven +Probable 37,461
0.51
617
8,301
0.62
167
45,762
0.53
784
Note:                  
1. Reserves at cut-off of 0.34 g/t Au for oxide ore and 0.45 g/t Au for mixed ore;
2. Numbers may not add due to rounding.

The use of a $1,250 per gold ounce pit design, as compared to the $1,025 per gold ounce pit design used in the December 31, 2010 mineral reserve estimate2, has resulted in a 33% increase in contained gold ounces.

The December 2011 Resource and Reserve Estimates have been included in the NI 43-101 compliant technical report dated March 28, 2012, with an effective date of December 31, 2011, and entitled "Resource and Reserve Estimates of the San Andres Mine in the Municipality of La Union, in the Department of Copan, Honduras", which has been prepared by J. Britt Reid, P.Eng., Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Aura Minerals, Bruce Butcher, P.Eng., Vice President, Technical Services of Aura Minerals and, Chris Keech, P.Geo., former Manager, Geostatistics of Aura Minerals (currently Principal Geologist of CGK Consulting Services Inc.). Messrs. Reid, Butcher and Keech are Qualified Persons for the purposes of NI 43-101 and have reviewed and approved the contents of this news release as applicable. This report has been filed on SEDAR.

2 See technical report dated March 30, 2011 and "Resources and Reserves on the San Andres Mine in the Municipality of La Union, Department of Copan, Honduras", which was prepared for the Company by Rogerio Moreno, AusIMM, of MCB Serviços e Mineração Ltda.

Sao Francisco Mine

The table below sets out selected operating information for the Sao Francisco Mine for the fourth quarter and year-to-date 2011 and 2010:

Operating Information Q4 2011 Q4 2010 YTD 2011 YTD 20102
                 
Ore mined (tonnes)   1,232,000   886,200   3,929,200   2,944,700
Waste mined (tonnes)   3,973,200   1,093,000 10,543,100   6,167,100
Capitalized stripping program (tonnes)   -   2,717,000   6,072,200   3,507,500
Total mined (tonnes)   5,205,200   4,696,200 20,544,500 12,619,300
                 
Waste-to-ore ratio3   3.22   4.30   4.23   3.29
                 
Ore plant feed (tonnes)   1,214,600   866,500   3,409,800   2,881,700
Grade (g/tonne)   0.66   0.45   0.66   0.42
                 
Production (ounces)   17,555   12,922   56,286   36,277
Sales (ounces)   17,156   13,052   55,559   34,109
                 
Average cash cost per ounce of gold produced1 $ 1,591 $ 1,189 $ 1,299 $ 1,338
1 See cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measures.
2 The Company began operating the mine in May 2010.
3 Includes deferred stripping waste.

Full year 2010 results in the table below include operating information only following the mine's acquisition on May 1, 2010. Further, both years are impacted by the dedicated waste stripping program which was undertaken from early December 2010 through early April 2011. During this period, crushing and processing operations were suspended, as the Company focused solely on waste stripping and upgrades to the crushing and gravity circuits. Total waste material moved as part of the stripping program was approximately 7.8 million tonnes.

Gold production in the fourth quarter of 2011 was 17,555 ounces, an increase of 36% over the same quarter in 2010. Similarly, gold production in the full year 2011 was 56,286 ounces, an increase of 55% over 2010 gold production. As stated above, 2010 production includes production from May 1, 2010 to year end, whereas 2011 production included 7,188 ounces leached during the stripping campaign and stacked in 2010, as well as production following the completion of the stripping program.

Fourth quarter 2011 production was impacted by a failure of the main shaft bearing in the jaw of the primary crusher in late-November, which was down for approximately two weeks before a rental crusher was installed. Although smaller than the primary crusher, the rental crusher made up a sizable percentage of the otherwise lost throughput. Production in the first quarter of 2012 has also been impacted by the jaw crusher bearing failure as well as a structural failure of the primary crusher feed bin in early February, which resulted in the operation not having use of the primary crusher for 47 days. The structural issues were rectified and the crusher was sent for repairs and scheduled rebuild and was re- installed at site in late-March 2012 and is now back in operation. During this period, overall throughput rates were reduced by an estimated 35%.

Sao Vicente Mine

The table below sets out selected operating information for the Sao Vicente Mine for the fourth quarter and year-to-date 2011 and 2010:

Operating Information  Q4 2011  Q4 2010  YTD 2011  YTD 20102
                 
Ore mined (tonnes)   812,100   916,300   3,323,600   2,494,500
Waste mined (tonnes)   785,700   1,450,600   5,255,500   3,642,200
Deferred stripping (tonnes)   -   285,100   -   830,900
Total mined (tonnes)   1,597,800   2,652,000   8,579,100   6,967,600
                 
Waste-to-ore ratio3   0.97   1.89   1.58   1.79
                 
Ore plant feed (tonnes)   682,100   921,000   2,957,500   2,510,500
Grade (g/tonne)   0.66   0.49   0.55   0.48
                 
Production (ounces)   13,107   12,058   43,003   30,600
Sales (ounces)   13,028   10,319   44,289   27,936
                 
Average cash cost per ounce of gold produced1 $ 1,015 $ 1,077 $ 1,235 $ 1,029
1 See cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measures. 
2 The Company began operating the mine in May 2010. 
3 Includes deferred stripping waste.

The Sao Vicente Mine produced 13,107 gold ounces in the fourth quarter of 2011, an increase of approximately 9% over production recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010. Production in 2011 was 43,003 gold ounces, an increase of approximately 41% over 2010, for which results are shown only from May 1, 2010. Increased production was due primarily to higher head grades of the ore processed over 2010 and slightly higher recoveries. The increase in ore grade in 2011 is the result of accessing higher grade ore located in the bottom of the pit, which was generally inaccessible late in 2010 through early in 2011 due to dewatering issues associated with the excessive rainfall.

Despite a 20% year-over-year average cash costs1 increase at the Sao Vicente Mine, from $1,029 to $1,235 per ounce, quarterly cash costs1 have decreased in each quarter. The average cash cost1 per ounce produced in the fourth quarter of 2011 was $1,015 compared to $1,077 per ounce in the fourth quarter of 2010. The decrease in fourth quarter costs is a result of higher head grades, as described above, increased recoveries, and a significantly lower strip ratio, offset by in-country inflation and general cost escalation.

1 See cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measures.

Aranzazu Mine

The table below sets out selected operating information for the Aranzazu Mine for the first, second, third and fourth quarters and year-to-date 2011:

Operating Information Q4 2011 Q3 2011 Q2 2011 Q1 2011 YTD 2011
           
Ore mined (tonnes) 237,500 189,300 159,200 105,600 691,600
Ore milled (tonnes) 161,300 169,800 175,100 126,100 632,300
           
Copper grade (%) 1.05% 0.88% 0.92% 0.74% 0.90%
Gold grade (g/tonne) 0.48 0.53 0.56 0.30 0.48
Silver grade (g/tonne) 12.00 10.33 14.12 15.78 12.89
Copper recovery 1 76.7% 69.7% 54.0% 46.2% 62.3%
Gold recovery 62.0% 56.6% 57.0% 50.7% 56.8%
Silver recovery 61.0% 51.0% 44.5% 49.1% 51.3%
           
Concentrate Production:          
  Copper concentrate produced (dry metric tonnes ("DMT")): 5,108 4,263 2,830 1,728 13,929
  Copper contained in concentrate (%) 25.4% 24.2% 26.0% 24.8% 25.1%
  Gold contained in concentrate (g/DMT) 9.2 12.8 18.9 12.4 12.7
  Silver contained in concentrate (g/DMT) 242.6 223.3 337.0 538.8 292.6
  Copper contained in concentrate (pounds) 2,856,500 2,276,800 1,619,100 942,900 7,695,300
  Estimated payable copper produced (pounds) 2,741,000 2,170,800 1,536,500 892,700 7,341,000
  Estimated payable gold produced (ounces) 1,405 1,540 1,574 601 5,120
  Estimated payable silver produced (ounces) 37,037 23,698 25,984 27,023 113,742
           
Average cash cost per payable pound of copper produced,
net of gold & silver credits 2, 3
 
$2.32
 
$2.53
 
$3.28
 
$4.87
 
$2.82
1 Recoveries based on mixture of sulphde and oxide ores, not primary sulphide ore.
2 See cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measures.
3 For post commissioning period, starting February 1, 2011.

Following the restart of operations, the Aranzazu Mine was adversely impacted by a number of operational issues. The processing of a more highly oxidized ore than planned in 2011 also impacted concentrate grades in the year. The operational issues were overcome and copper recoveries increased quarter-by-quarter as the proportion of oxidized ore decreased. The continued ramp-up throughout 2011 saw steady increases in open pit and underground ore mined, ore grades and recoveries. This resulted in significant quarter-over-quarter increases in concentrate and metal production. Despite a 20% and 25% increase in concentrate and metal production over the previous quarter, mill throughput in the fourth quarter was still impacted by lower than expected mill and equipment availability due in part to a water shortage caused by water line scaling and some limited power supply failures. Water line clearing was completed by March 2012 and improvements in power supply were also rectified shortly after year end; however, these did not have material impacts in first quarter 2012 production levels.

Cash costs1 per payable pound of copper for the fourth quarter and full year 2011 were $2.32 and $2.82, respectively. Cash costs1 per payable pound of copper have steadily decreased quarter by quarter as production continues to increase, recoveries improve and the Aranzazu Mine moves towards design levels for throughput and concentrate production.

Subsequent to year-end, the Aranzazu Mine experienced unusual levels of arsenic in its concentrate production. These levels are outside contract specifications and will likely result in increased treatment charges from the Company's off-take customer. The Company is investigating the source of the arsenic, monitoring its levels and is working with its customer to address the issue. The magnitude of any increased treatment charges and the duration of the elevated arsenic levels in the Aranzazu Mine's production are currently being reviewed.

Outlook and Strategy

Aura Minerals' future profitability, operating cash flows and financial position will be closely related to the prevailing prices of gold and copper. The Company's future operating and financing cash flows are expected to fund internal growth and overall expansion of our projects. Key factors influencing the price of gold and copper include the supply of and demand for these commodities, the relative strength of currencies (particularly the U.S. dollar) and macroeconomic factors such as current and future expectations for inflation and interest rates. Management believes that the short-to-medium term economic environment is likely to remain supportive for gold and copper prices with continued volatility in both.

The Company believes that other key factors influencing profitability and operating cash flows are production levels - impacted by grades, ore quantities, labour, plant and equipment availabilities, and process recoveries - and production and processing costs - which are impacted by production levels, prices and usage of key consumables, labour, inflation, and exchange rates.

Aura Minerals' full year 2012 gold production and average cash cost(1) guidance per mine, is as follows:

Gold Mines - Production Estimates
San Andres Mine $1,000 - $1,100 60,000 - 65,000 oz
Sao Francisco Mine $1,500 - $1,700* 70,000 - 80,000 oz
Sao Vicente Mine $1,100 - $1,200 35,000 - 40,000 oz
Total $1,250 to $1,400 165,000 - 185,000 oz
* Full year 2012 cost estimate includes first quarter impact of failure in primary jaw crusher and structural failure of primary crusher feed bin.

Operating cash costs(1) per ounce for the San Andres Mine in the first half of 2012 are expected to be comparable to cash costs(1) recorded in the fourth quarter of 2011, based on similar ore grades, waste-to- ore ratios and process recoveries experienced during the quarter. In the second half of 2012, the mining of lower percentage of mixed ore and expected improvements in the productivity of the recently replaced mining contractor are expected to enhance overall mine performance and lower unit production costs.

Operating cash costs(1) per ounce for the Sao Francisco Mine have been adversely affected since late- November by the failure of the main shaft bearing of the primary jaw crusher and by the structural failure of the primary crusher feed bin in early February, which resulted in the operation not having use of the primary crusher for 47 days. As a result of these failures and other unrelated issues, overall throughput rates were reduced by an estimated 35% during this period, causing production to decrease and costs to increase. The structural issues were rectified and the crusher was rebuilt and then re-installed at the Sao Francisco Mine site in late-March 2012 and is currently in operation. The one-time impact of the failed jaw crusher bearing and the structural failure of the feed bin in the first quarter of 2012, combined with the mining and processing of lower grade ore material during the first and second quarters of 2012, will adversely impact production and increase cash costs1 in the first half of 2012. However, in accordance with the new business and mine plan for this operation, cash costs1 are expected to decrease in the second half of 2012 and further decrease in subsequent years as progressively higher grade ore material is mined as the pit deepens, and as strip ratios are reduced.

Operating cash costs(1) per ounce for the Sao Vicente Mine for 2012 are expected to be similar to those experienced in 2011, based on the new mine and business plan for the operation, which includes: a reduction in the strip ratios; slight increases in the average mine grades; and reduced mining and haulage costs associated with considerably less waste.

The Company's 2012 production guidance for the Aranzazu Mine is summarized in the table below:

Aranzazu Mine - Production Estimates  
Copper 13,000,000 - 14,000,000 lbs
Gold 7,500 - 8,500 oz
Silver 145,000 - 155,000 oz

The Company's 2012 cash costs(1) for the Aranzazu Mine are forecast to be $1.75 to $2.00 per pound of payable copper net of gold and silver by-products based on assumed gold and silver prices of $1,650 per ounce and $32 per ounce, respectively.

Total capital expenditure guidance for the fiscal year 2012 is approximately $28 million, with $19 million relating to growth and sustaining projects and $9 million relating to the continued mine development at the Aranzazu Mine. Exploration expenses are forecast to be approximately $9 million in 2012, including costs associated with the completion of the Serrote Feasibility Study and the Aranzazu PEA as well as resource definition and expansion drilling at the San Andres Mine. Capital and exploration expenditures for 2012 are expected to be funded from operating cash flows.

1 See cautionary note regarding non-GAAP measures.

The Company's primary strategic focus for 2012 is to unlock the value of its portfolio of producing mines by:

  • focusing on improving operational efficiencies at the San Andres Mine to reduce cash costs and conducting an in-fill drilling program to potentially expand resources and reserves;
  • maintaining steady state operations at the Aranzazu Mine with mill throughput of 2,600 tpd and completing the Aranzazu PEA to potentially increase mill throughput up to 5,000 tpd; and
  • achieving, sustaining and maximizing cash flows from the Brazilian Mines by executing the new life of mine plans with reduced strip ratios and improved ore grades.

Longer term, the Company's organic growth plans include:

  • ensuring the San Andres Mine provides continuous cash flows for the foreseeable future;
  • increasing the Aranzazu Mine throughput levels up to 5,000 tpd with internal capital provided by the Brazilian Mines over the next three years, to be confirmed by the Aranzazu PEA; and
  • developing the Serrote Project to significantly increase the size of the Company, subject to completion of the Serrote Feasibility Study.

Conference Call

Aura Minerals' management will host a conference call and audio webcast for analysts and investors on Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 9 a.m. (Eastern Time) to review the fourth quarter and full year 2011 results. Participants may access the call by dialing 416-695-7848 or the toll-free access at 1-800-355-4959. Participants are encouraged to call in 10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time to avoid delays.

The call is being webcast and can be accessed at Aura Minerals' website at www.auraminerals.com. Those who wish to listen to a recording of the conference call at a later time may do so by dialing 905- 694-9451 or 1-800-408-3053 (Passcode 7801002#). The conference call replay will be available from 2 p.m. eastern time on March 28, 2012, until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 13, 2012.

Non-GAAP Measures

This news release includes certain non-GAAP performance measures, in particular, the total cash costs of gold per ounce, and adjusted profit or loss and adjusted profit or loss per share. These non-GAAP measures do not have any standardized meaning within International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and therefore may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. The Company believes that this information is useful to management and certain investors in evaluating the Company's performance. The data presented is intended to provide additional information and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures of performance prepared in accordance with IFRS. Cash costs are presented as they represent an industry standard method of comparing certain costs on a per unit basis. Total cash costs include on-site mining, processing and, administration costs, off-site refining and royalty charges, reduced by by-product credits, but exclude amortization, reclamation, and exploration costs, as well as capital expenditures. Total cash costs are divided by ounces to arrive at per ounce cash costs. Adjusted profit or loss and adjusted profit or loss per share are calculated by taking the Company's net profit or loss, excluding (a) non-recurring revenue and expense items; (b) share-based payment expense; (c) unrealized foreign exchange gains and losses; (d) unrealized gains and losses on derivative financial instruments; and (e) impairment losses.

About Aura Minerals Inc.

Aura Minerals is a Canadian mid-tier gold and copper production company focused on the exploration, development and operation of gold and base metal projects in the Americas. The Company's producing assets include the San Andres gold mine in Honduras, the Sao Francisco and Sao Vicente gold mines in Brazil and the copper-gold-silver Aranzazu Mine in Mexico. The Company's core exploration asset is the feasibility-stage copper-gold-iron ore Serrote Project in Brazil.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statement:

This document contains "forward-looking information" within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation and "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. This information and these statements, referred to herein as "forward- looking statements" are made as of the date of this news release or as of the effective date of information described in this news release, as applicable. Forward-looking statements relate to future events or future performance and reflect current estimates, predictions, expectations or beliefs regarding future events and include, without limitation, statements with respect to: (i) the amount of mineral reserves and mineral resources; (ii) the amount of future production over any period; (iii) the amount of waste tonnes mined; (iv) the amount of mining and haulage costs; (v) cash costs; (vi) operating costs; (vii) strip ratios and mining rates; (viii) expected grades and ounces of metals and minerals; (ix) expected processing recoveries; (x) expected time frames; (xi) prices of metals and minerals; (xii) mine life; and (xiii) anticipated gold hedge programs. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance (often, but not always, using words or phrases such as "expects", "anticipates", "plans", "projects", "estimates", "envisages", "assumes", "intends", "strategy", "goals", "objectives" or variations thereof or stating that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved, or the negative of any of these terms and similar expressions) are not statements of historical fact and may be forward-looking statements.

All forward-looking statements are based on the Company's or its consultants' current beliefs as well as various assumptions made by and information currently available to them. These assumptions include, without limitation: (i) the presence of and continuity of metals at the Brazilian Mines at modeled grades; (ii) the capacities of various machinery and equipment; (iii) the availability of personnel, machinery and equipment at estimated prices; (iv) exchange rates; (v) metals and minerals sales prices; (vi) appropriate discount rates; (vii) tax rates and royalty rates applicable to the mining operations; (viii) cash costs; (ix) anticipated mining losses and dilution; (x) metals recovery rates, (xi) reasonable contingency requirements; and (xiii) receipt of regulatory approvals on acceptable terms. Although management considers these assumptions to be reasonable based on information currently available to it, they may prove to be incorrect. Many forward-looking statements are made assuming the correctness of other forward looking statements, such as statements of net present value and internal rate of return, which are based on most of the other forward-looking statements and assumptions herein. The cost information is also prepared using current values, but the time for incurring the costs will be in the future and it is assumed costs will remain stable over the relevant period.

By their very nature, forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, and risks exist that estimates, forecasts, projections and other forward-looking statements will not be achieved or that assumptions do not reflect future experience. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements as a number of important factors could cause the actual outcomes to differ materially from the beliefs, plans, objectives, expectations, anticipations, estimates assumptions and intentions expressed in such forward-looking statements. These risk factors may be generally stated as the risk that the assumptions and estimates expressed above do not occur, but specifically include, without limitation, risks relating to variations in the mineral content within the material identified as mineral reserves and mineral resources from that predicted, changes in development or mining plans due to changes in logistical, technical or other factors, the impact of general business and economic conditions, global liquidity and credit availability on the timing of cash flows and the values of assets and liabilities based on projected future conditions, fluctuating metal prices (such as gold, copper, silver, nickel and iron ore), currency exchange rates (such as the Canadian dollar, Brazilian Real, Mexican Peso and the Honduran Lempira versus the United States dollar), possible variations in ore grade or recovery rates, changes in accounting policies, changes in the Company's corporate resources, changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined, changes in project development and production time frames, the possibility of project cost overruns or unanticipated costs and expenses, higher prices for fuel, steel, power, labour and other consumables contributing to higher costs and general risks of the mining industry, failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated, unexpected changes in mine life, final pricing for concentrate sales, unanticipated results of future studies, seasonality and unanticipated weather changes, costs and timing of the development of new deposits, success of exploration activities, successful completion of proposed acquisitions, permitting time lines, government regulation of mining operations, environmental risks, unanticipated reclamation expenses, title disputes or claims, limitations on insurance coverage and timing and possible outcome of pending litigation and labour disputes, as well as those risk factors discussed or referred to in the Company's Annual Information Form, dated March 28, 2012, under the heading "Item 4 - Risk Factors", in the annual financial statements and management's discussion and analysis of the Company for the year ended December 31, 2011, in the Sao Francisco Technical Report, in the Sao Vicente Technical Report and in the technical reports relating to each of the Brazilian Mines. The foregoing list of factors that may affect future results is not exhaustive.

When relying on our forward-looking statements, investors and others should carefully consider the foregoing factors and other uncertainties and potential events. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time by the Company or on behalf of the Company, except as required by law.

The forward-looking statements contained herein is presented for the purpose of assisting investors in understanding the Company's expected financial and operational performance and results as at and for the periods ended on the dates presented in the Company's plans and objectives and may not be appropriate for other purposes. The reader is also cautioned that mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.



Aura Minerals Inc.
Jim Bannantine
President & Chief Executive Officer
604.669.4777
604.696.0212 (FAX)
info@auraminerals.com
www.auraminerals.com
Data and Statistics for these countries : Brazil | Honduras | Mexico | All
Gold and Silver Prices for these countries : Brazil | Honduras | Mexico | All

Aura Minerals Inc.

PRODUCER
CODE : ORA.TO
ISIN : CA05152Q3052
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Aura Minerals is a producing gold and copper company based in Canada.

Aura Minerals produces gold, copper, silver in Brazil, in Honduras and in Mexico, and holds various exploration projects in Brazil.

Its main assets in production are SAN ANDRÉS (CHRISTO) MINE in Honduras, SAO FRANCISCO and SAO VINCENTE in Brazil and ARANZAZU in Mexico and its main exploration properties are CUMARU, INAJA, ARAPICARA and NORTH CARAJAS in Brazil.

Aura Minerals is listed in Canada. Its market capitalisation is CA$ 484.8 millions as of today (US$ 364.4 millions, € 311.7 millions).

Its stock quote reached its lowest recent point on September 18, 2015 at CA$ 0.06, and its highest recent level on June 19, 2020 at CA$ 93.39.

Aura Minerals has 36 590 000 shares outstanding.

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1/24/2012Provides 2011 Production Results and 2012 Guidance
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4/30/2010(Sao Vincente)Closes Acquisition of the Sao Francisco and Sao Vicente Gold...
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5/9/2016Aura Minerals Announces Resumption of Operations at the San ...
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12/21/2015Aura Minerals Announces Resumption of Operations at San Andr...
11/2/2015Aura Minerals Announces Third Quarter Release Date -- Novemb...
9/14/2015Aura Minerals Files Aranzazu Mine NI 43-101 Technical Report
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8/7/2015Aura Minerals Announces Updated Aranzazu Mine NI 43-101 PEA ...
7/31/2015Aura Minerals Announces Second Quarter Release Date -- Augus...
3/24/2015Aura Minerals Announces Year End 2014 Financial and Operatin...
3/10/2015Aura Minerals Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2014 Re...
1/15/2015IIROC Trade Resumption - ORA
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11/12/2014Aura Minerals Announces Third Quarter of 2014 Financial and ...
10/20/2014Aura Minerals Announces Third Quarter Release Date and Confe...
5/27/2014Aura Minerals Announces Updated San Andres Mine NI 43-101 Sh...
5/13/2014Aura Minerals Announces First Quarter of 2014 Financial and ...
4/17/2014Aura Minerals Announces First Quarter Release Date and Confe...
3/26/2014Aura Minerals Announces Year End 2013 Financial and Operatin...
3/17/2014Aura Minerals Announces US$22.5 Million Gold Loan
10/17/2013Announces Third Quarter Conference Call Details
7/22/2013Announces Second Quarter Conference Call Details
5/3/2013Announces First Quarter Conference Call Details
3/11/2013Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2012 Conference Call ...
2/25/2013Announces Update on Serrote- Bridge Loan from Banco ITAU- R$...
11/5/2012Announces Third Quarter 2012 Conference Call Details
10/22/2012Files Positive Feasibility Study on the Serrote Project
8/31/2012(Aranzazu)Files Preliminary Economic Assessment on the Aranzazu Projec...
8/8/2012Announces Second Quarter 2012 Conference Call Details
6/6/2012Announces Changes to Management
4/30/2012Announces First Quarter 2012 Conference Call Details
3/20/2012Announces Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2011 Conference Call ...
2/29/2012Provides Corporate Update
10/26/2011Announces Third Quarter Conference Call Details
8/3/2011Announces Second Quarter Conference Call Details
7/12/2011Awards Feasibility Study on Serrote Deposit to SNC-Lavalin I...
6/30/2011Announces Details of the Annual General Meeting of Sharehold...
6/21/2011Announces Corporate and Operational Review Conference Call D...
4/7/2011Releases Additional Assay Results from the Deeper Drill Test...
3/23/2011Yamana ACQUIRES SHARES OF AURA MINERALS
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