Why is it a good time for investors to invest in Argonaut Gold?
Argonaut Gold presents a unique one-stop-shop intermediate producer investment opportunity type. This is because we offer everything from cash flow from existing operations, the excitement in high-grade exploration discoveries to the development story, as we bring a project online with Magino. In Magino, we released some of the best drill holes ever drilled earlier this year, and in September we released additional information from drilling at La Colorado which indicated grades between 40 - 90 g/t over a 4 - 5 metres width and in some cases up to 20 metres wide, which are spectacular results. In 2021, we set a target of generating C$100 million in cash flow from our existing operations, which we surpassed after the first nine months of the year. A year ago, there were less than 50 people in Magino, yet today there are over 500 people on site. So with the exploration sizzle at Magino and La Colorada, the growth through the development of Magino and the cash flow from the existing operations, it really makes Argonaut Gold a one-stop-shop for investors looking to play various aspects on the mining cycle.
What is the timeline for the development of Magino, and once in production, how will the mine change the production profile of Argonaut Gold?
We expect to be pouring gold at Magino during the first half of 2023. Magino is expected to add 150,000 oz/y once fully ramped up. Now, we will lose about 40,000 oz/y as our El Castillo mine, which has been operating since 2007, ramps down. We also believe there is an opportunity to expand early in the mine life using Magino cash flows, which could double Magino’s profile to 300,000 oz/y.
Can you elaborate on your ESG strategy and initiatives?
The key to a successful ESG strategy is to remain engaged with investors, local communities and the government. Argonaut Gold managed to strike a perfect balance in this regard and reduce its operational carbon footprint across the company. We are proud to have been recognized by the government for the 10th year in Mexico as an environmentally socially responsible company. In leaching operations, we are minimizing our use of plastic in drip lines and chemicals. We are also reducing our water consumption by placing the lines closer to the ground, which also reduces energy consumption. In Magino we are using more energy efficient equipment. We invest in social programs in Mexico for smaller surrounding communities to elevate their living standards. We also offer a scholarship program to incentivize all age groups to pursue a formal education.
How would you describe the current operational environment from a political standpoint in Mexico?
It has been a bit challenging in the mining industry, the fourth biggest industry in the country, with the current administration. Any type of permitting or action where we are looking to get concessions has predominantly been paused over the last two years. Much of this could be simply due to the Covid environment and it is picking up slowly now. There are also areas in Mexico that present some security challenges. Fortunately for us, we operate in areas where we have managed those security risks well.
What are your plans and focus for the upcoming year?
For us it is centred on transformation: changing operations from short mine life, high cost to longer mine life and lower costs. This strategy will allow us to reduce the company’s risk profile. Our success over the next two years will be fueled by our exploration sizzle and development story from our projects. We believe if we execute on this business plan, we will successfully transition the company from a higher-cost, junior gold producer to a lower-cost, intermediate gold producer that is operating assets with long mine lives.