LUCARA ANNOUNCES STRONG Q2 2022 FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL RESULTS AS UNDERGROUND SHAFT SINKING COMMENCES
LUCARA ANNOUNCES STRONG Q2 2022 FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL RESULTS AS UNDERGROUND SHAFT SINKING COMMENCES
VANCOUVER, BC, Aug. 10, 2022 /CNW/ - (TSX: LUC) (BSE: LUC) (Nasdaq Stockholm: LUC)
Lucara Diamond Corp. ("Lucara" or the "Company") today reports its results for the quarter ended June 30, 2022. Please view PDF version
Q2 2022 HIGHLIGHTS:
Eira Thomas, President & CEO commented: "In Q2, Lucara celebrated 10 years of continuous operations at its 100% owned Karowe Diamond Mine and delivered production on plan in combination with healthy diamond sales, reflecting stable polished diamond demand and a continued positive outlook for diamond prices longer term. Third party volumes on Clara also continued to grow during the quarter, with Karowe goods reliably supplemented in each completed sale. Momentum on the underground expansion continues to ramp up as we began the transition towards the main shaft sinking phase; Lucara maintains access to ample liquidity to support of its growth plans."
REVIEW FOR THE QUARTER ENDED JUNE 30, 2022
Diamond sales in Q2 2022 continued through HB under the sales agreement for those gem and near-gem diamonds greater than 10.8 carats which are to be manufactured and sold as polished. Other diamonds continued to be sold through a combination of the Clara platform and regular tenders.
The Company recognized total revenues of $52.3 million in Q2 2022. This included $50.0 million from the sale of 66,167 carats from Karowe, top-up payments of $13.1 million as well as $2.3 million from the sale of third-party goods on the Clara platform. In the comparative quarter, the Company achieved revenues of $46.3 million which included $45.9 million from the sale of 68,806 Karats from Karowe, top-up payments of $7.9 million as well as $0.4 million in revenue from third party goods sold through the Clara platform.
HB SALES AGREEMENT FOR +10.8 CARAT DIAMOND PRODUCTION FROM KAROWE
Karowe's large, high value diamonds have historically accounted for approximately 60% to 70% of Lucara's annual revenues. In 2020, Lucara announced a partnership agreement with HB, entering into a definitive sales agreement for diamonds recovered that exceed +10.8 carats from the Company's 100% owned Karowe Diamond mine in Botswana. This agreement was subsequently amended and extended to December 31, 2022. The mechanisms of the agreement result in complete transparency within the value chain and create important alignment between the producer and the manufacturer for the first time.
Under the amended sales agreement, +10.8 carat gem and near gem diamonds from the Karowe Mine of qualities that can directly enter the manufacturing stream are being sold to HB at prices based on the estimated polished outcome of each diamond. The estimated polished value is determined through state-of-the-art scanning and planning technology, with an adjusted amount payable on actual achieved polished sales, less a fee and the cost of manufacturing. Following the extension of the HB Agreement in 2021, all +10.8 carat non-gem quality diamonds and all diamonds less than 10.8 carats in weight which did not meet the criteria for sale on Clara are being sold as rough through the quarterly tender. In the agreement extension, payment terms were amended to better reflect the timing of mine production and the manufacturing process. This unique pricing mechanism delivers regular cash flow for this important segment of our production profile.
For the three months ended June 30, 2022, the Company recorded revenue of $32.4 million from the HB agreement (inclusive of top-up payments of $13.1 million), as compared to revenue of $30.7 million in Q2 2021 (inclusive of top-up payments of $7.9 million). The increase in revenue in Q2 2022 is attributed to higher prices achieved, despite lower overall sale volumes delivered to HB during the current quarter. Diamond market fundamentals continued to support healthy prices as steady demand and some inventory shortages were reported. Natural variability in the quality profile of the +10.8ct production in any production period or fiscal quarter results in fluctuations in recorded revenue and associated top ups between periods. This is expected and reflects a combination of current diamond market prices as well as variability in the quality of Karowe's production profile in any given period.
As a result of the sales agreement with HB, the Company also participated in polished diamond price increases during Q2 2022 as rough diamonds sold to HB in previous quarters were polished and sold. In Q2 2022, top-up payments of $13.1 million (Q2 2021: $7.9 million) were included in revenue for the quarter. At June 30, 2022 a number of higher value and more technically complex stones that take longer to manufacture had not fully completed the manufacturing and sales process. These stones were delivered to HB in 2021 and the first six months of 2022. As these stones finish the manufacturing process and are sold, the Company's may record additional revenue in the form of "top-up" payments from these sales.
CLARA SALES PLATFORM
Clara, Lucara's 100% owned proprietary, secure, web-based digital sales platform, continues to gain scale and interest. Interest in Clara continues to grow as the benefits of purchasing rough diamonds in an innovative way become evident. In Q2 2022, five sales (Q2 2021: six sales) took place with a total sales volume transacted of $9.4 million, a 13% increase from the $8.3 million transacted in Q2 2021, continuing the strong price trends observed on Clara during Q1 2022. The number of buyers on the platform remained stable during the quarter with the Company maintaining a waiting list to manage supply and demand.
While most of the stones transacted through the platform are supplied from the Karowe Mine, secondary market stones continued to be offered for sale through the platform with good results. Additional supply is required to meet existing demand and drive the platform's growth and the Company launched a series of trial sales on the Clara platform with a third-party producer in Q2 2022. The Company intends to continue to seek additional supply in 2022, both from third-party producers and the secondary market.
KAROWE UNDERGROUND EXPANSION UPDATE
The Karowe UGP is expected to extend the mine life to at least 2040, with underground carat production predominantly from the highest value EM/PK(S) unit and is forecast to contribute approximately $4 billion in additional revenues, using conservative diamond prices. The estimated capital cost for the Karowe UGP has increased from $534 million (including contingency) to $547 million to reflect expected pricing changes following execution of the main sink contract. Mine ramp up is expected in Q1 2026 with full production from the Karowe UGP expected in H2 2026. The Company is using a combination of cash flow from operations and project debt for the investment in the Karowe UGP, which is fully financed.
During the three months ended June 30, 2022, a total of $29.1 million was spent on the Karowe UGP development, primarily in relation to ongoing construction activities and procurement of long lead items, including:
Activities for the Karowe UGP in the upcoming quarters of 2022 are expected to include the following:
The diamond market continued its strong performance during the second quarter of 2022 with minor price corrections observed. Solid market fundamentals supported diamond prices despite growing concerns of a global economic slowdown as high levels of reported inflation persisted and governments respond with increasingly forceful measures in attempts to reduce it to sustainable levels.
A cautious economic outlook combined with the uncertainty caused by geopolitical events, including the conflict in Ukraine and continuing implications of the COVID-19 pandemic (specifically in China where the demand for diamonds has not yet recovered) remain a risk to diamond pricing trends in the short term but the longer-term price outlook remains positive.
The benefits of the committed sales agreement with HB continued to be realized during the second quarter of 2022 as the Company participated in the upside to manufacturing polished diamonds for goods delivered in previous quarters. The integrated approach, using state of the art scanning and planning technology has further enhanced the final achieved polished outcome for very large (+50 carat polished) and high value diamonds, a critical production segment for the Company.
QUARTERLY RESULTS OF OPERATIONS – KAROWE MINE, BOTSWANA
This section of the press release provides management's production and cost estimates for 2022. These are "forward-looking statements" and subject to the cautionary note regarding the risks associated with forward-looking statements. No changes were made to the Company's 2022 Guidance as of Q2 2022. In February 2022, based on updated expectations for revenue in 2022, the diamond revenue guidance issued was increased to between $195.0 million and $225.0 million (from $185.0 million to $215.0 million). Diamond revenue guidance does not include revenue related to the sale of exceptional stones (an individual rough diamond which sells for more than $10 million), or the Sethunya.
In 2022, the Company's revenue forecast assumes that 100% of the carats recovered will come from the higher value M/PK(S) and EM/PK(S) units within the South Lobe in accordance with the mine plan.
The assumptions for carats recovered and sold are consistent with achieved performance in recent years. The number of tonnes processed is also consistent with recent achievements, noting that actual tonnes processed in 2021 was about 6% higher than 2020 due to improving plant reliability because of the success of the preventative maintenance plan that has been implemented.
Waste tonnes that were deferred in 2021 as other mining areas in the open-pit were prioritized are expected to be caught up in between 2022 and 2024. The estimated processing cost per tonne processed is higher than previous years, reflecting expected inflationary pressure on labour and commodity costs.
In 2022, capital costs for the underground expansion are expected to be up to $110 million and will focus on the commencement of main shaft sinking activities, the commissioning of the bulk power supply 132 kV line and substations and detailed engineering for the underground development. Sustaining capital and project expenditures are expected to be up to $17 million with a focus on completion of a community sports facility, dewatering activities and an expansion of the tailings storage facility.
Lucara Botswana's progressive tax rate computation allows for the immediate deduction of operating costs, including capital expenditures, in the year in which they are incurred. Based on the updated 2022 revenue guidance of $195 million to $225 million and assuming the underground development expenditures are incurred, the expected tax rate will be 0% for 2022.
The presentation slideshow will also be available in PDF format for download from the Lucara website (Link to presentation).
A replay of the conference call will be available two hours after the completion of the call until August 18, 2022.
The passcode for the replay is: 7733206 #.
On behalf of the Board,
Lucara is a leading independent producer of large exceptional quality Type IIa diamonds from its 100% owned Karowe Diamond Mine in Botswana. The Karowe Mine has been in production since 2012 and is the focus of the Company's operations and development activities. Clara Diamond Solutions Limited Partnership ("Clara"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lucara, has developed a secure, digital sales platform that uses proprietary analytics together with cloud and blockchain technologies to modernize the existing diamond supply chain, driving efficiencies, unlocking value and ensuring diamond provenance from mine to finger. Lucara has an experienced board and management team with extensive diamond development and operations expertise. Lucara and its subsidiaries operate transparently and in accordance with international best practices in the areas of sustainability, health and safety, environment, and community relations. Lucara has adopted the IFC Performance Standards and the World Bank Group's Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines for Mining (2007). Accordingly, the development of the Karowe underground expansion project ("UGP") adheres to the Equator Principles. Lucara is committed to upholding high standards while striving to deliver long-term economic benefits to Botswana and the communities in which the Company operates.
The information is information that Lucara is obliged to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation and the Swedish Securities Markets Act. This information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact person set out above, on August 10, 2022 at 3:30pm Pacific Time.
NON-IFRS FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE MEASURES
This news release refers to certain financial measures, such as adjusted EBITDA, adjusted operating earnings, operating cash flow per share, operating margin per carat sold and operating cost per tonne of ore processed, which are not measures recognized under IFRS and do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS. These measures may differ from those made by other corporations and accordingly may not be comparable to such measures as reported by other corporations. These measures have been derived from the Company's financial statements, and applied on a consistent basis, because the Company believes they are of assistance in the understanding of the results of operations and financial position. Please refer to the Company's MD&A for the three months ended June 30, 2022 for an explanation of non-IFRS measures used.
CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS
Certain of the statements made and contained herein and elsewhere constitute forward-looking statements as defined in applicable securities laws. Generally, these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "expects", "anticipates", "believes", "intends", "estimates", "potential", "possible" and similar expressions, or statements that events, conditions or results "will", "may", "could" or "should" occur or be achieved.
Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management as of the date such statements are made, and they are subject to a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievement expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. The Company believes that expectations reflected in this forward-looking information are reasonable, but no assurance can be given that these expectations will prove to be accurate and such forward-looking information included herein should not be unduly relied upon.
In particular, forward-looking information and forward-looking statements in this news release may include, but are not limited to, information or statements with respect to the equity and project debt financings, the intended use of proceeds, the Company's ability to comply with the terms of the Facilities which are required to construct the Karowe UGP, that expected cash flow from operations, combined with external financing will be sufficient to complete construction of the Karowe UGP, that the estimated timelines to achieve mine ramp up and full production from the Karowe UGP can be achieved, the economic potential of a mineralized area, the size and tonnage of a mineralized area, anticipated sample grades or bulk sample diamond content, future production activity, the future price and demand for diamonds, future forecasts of revenue and variable consideration in determining revenue, estimation of mineral resources, exploration and development plans, cost and timing of the development of deposits and estimated future production, permitting time lines, currency exchange rates, success of exploration, requirements for and availability of additional capital, capital expenditures, operating costs, timing of completion of technical reports and studies, tax rates, timing of drill programs, government regulation of operations, environmental risks and ability to comply with all environmental regulations, reclamation expenses, title matters including disputes or claims, limitations on insurance coverage, negotiations and agreements among the Company and the Botswana Mine Workers Union, the completion of transactions and timing and possible outcome of pending litigation, the profitability of Clara and the Clara Platform, and the scaling of the digital platform for the sale of rough diamonds owned by Clara, the benefits to the Company of diamond supply agreements with HB and the ability to generate better prices from the sale of the Company's +10.8 carat production as a polished stone.
There can be no assurance that such forward looking statements will prove to be accurate, as the Company's results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in this forward-looking information as a result of those factors discussed in or referred to under the heading "COVID-19 Global Pandemic" in the Company's most recent MD&A and under the heading "Risks and Uncertainties" in the Company's most recent Annual Information Form, both available at http://www.sedar.com, as well as changes in general business and economic conditions, the ability to continue as a going concern, changes in interest and foreign currency rates, changes in inflation, the supply and demand for, deliveries of and the level and volatility of prices of rough diamonds, costs of power and diesel, impacts of potential disruptions to supply chains, acts of foreign governments and the outcome of legal proceedings, inaccurate geological and recoverability assumptions (including with respect to the size, grade and recoverability of mineral reserves and resources), and unanticipated operational difficulties (including failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate in accordance with specifications or expectations, cost escalations, unavailability of materials and equipment, government action or delays in the receipt of government approvals, industrial disturbances or other job actions, adverse weather conditions, and unanticipated events relating to health safety and environmental matters).
Accordingly, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements which speak only as of the date the statements were made, and the Company does not assume any obligations to update or revise them to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.
SOURCE Lucara Diamond Corp.
Company Codes: Toronto:LUC, Botswana:LUC, Stockholm:LUC
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