Could you comment on the company’s financial performance?
In FY21, Perseus recorded a net profit of A$139.4 million after-tax, compared to A$94.4 million last year, based on an improved EBITDA of A$303.1 million. These outcomes not only reflect selling our gold at a higher price, but also reflects the benefit of the optimization work carried out at our operations during the year. We operate at a competitive AISC and we seek every opportunity to maximize every dollar. This strong profit result has put Perseus in a position to declare a maiden return of capital to shareholders, which will take place later this year.
This year, Perseus brought its third mine into production, on target and on budget. What are your expectations of Yaouré?
Yaouré poured first gold in December 2020 and it has been producing extremely well since. On 30 June 2021, we published an updated ore reserve estimate for Yaouré of 29.6 million tonnes grading at 1.71 g/t Au and containing 2.63 million oz gold. Based on this, we have estimated a mine life of eight years, with the potential to extend through additional discoveries, both at surface and underground. We expect that Yaouré will be producing about 260,000 oz annually for the next three years, at an average AISC of US$734/oz. The longevity of the mine and exact production levels will depend on how successful we are in establishing an underground mine off the CMA pit and also bringing into play additional open pittable reserves we have identified around the site. We are now drilling out several of these structures that will believe will allow us to extend the life of Yaouré well beyond the currently estimated eight years.
Edikan celebrates 10 years since pouring first gold in 2021. What expansion opportunities exist for Edikan?
In the past, we have looked at the underground potential of the mine to increase our production capacity, but we decided to not go forward with this at the present time as the margins are not sufficiently attractive to compensate for the added risk. Edikan is currently projected to produce out to 2025, but we are drilling various exploration targets in close proximity to the mine and we have identified very good potential for a material life extension.
What is your broader portfolio strategy?
We believe that discoveries and in-house developments generally yield the most value for shareholders, which is why we have focused primarily on organic growth. Over the years, Perseus has not spent large amounts on new exploration, prioritizing mine developments, but now, with strong cashflows, we can once again allocate appropriate capital to exploration.
In terms of inorganic growth, we are always on the look out for value accretive opportunities. These are not easy to come by but, based on our track record of acquiring both Amara Mining in 2016 and Exore Resources in 2020, when the right opportunities come along, we are very comfortable in using this strategy.
What is Perseus’s approach to community engagement and local beneficiation?
We must recognise that we are guests in our host countries and communities and without a strong licence to operate we have nothing. As such, we must work hand in hand with our hosts to make sure that everybody benefits from our ventures. Also, in understanding that our resources are finite, we must make preparations to ensure that we ultimately leave our sites in a better condition than when we arrived – both in terms of the natural environment and the livelihood of citizens. Across our operations, 96% of our staff are local citizens, and in addition to this we contribute to a range of community programmes aimed at providing key services including health and education, in particular.
Could you summarize your key priorities over the next two years?
One of our core values is doing what we said we were going to do: We said that we are going to produce in excess of 500,000 oz/year at a margin of not less than US$400 per ounce, and that is what we intend to do. We also want to put Perseus into a position where it can sustain this level of production and cashflow well into the future and to do this, not only do we need to replace the resources that we consume, but hopefully, materially add to our inventory through organic or inorganic means.