Entrée Gold Inc. (TSX:ETG,NYSEMKT:EGI) announced its annual operational and financial results for the year ended December 31, 2015.
Highlights for the year ended December 31, 2015 and subsequent developments through March 30, 2016 include:
Entrée/Oyu Tolgoi Joint Venture, Mongolia
Entrée has a 20% carried interest in the Hugo North Extension and Heruga deposits, which are included in the 12 kilometre-long Oyu Tolgoi series of copper-gold-molybdenum deposits in Mongolia. The first lift of the Hugo North Extension deposit is included in the next phase (Phase 2) of underground mine development.
In 2015, Entrée’s joint venture partner, Oyu Tolgoi LLC (“OTLLC”), along with Rio Tinto, Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (“Turquoise Hill”) and the Government of Mongoliaworked towards the successful resolution of outstanding OTLLC shareholder issues which halted Oyu Tolgoi underground development in 2013.
On May 18, 2015, Turquoise Hill announced that an Oyu Tolgoi Underground Mine Development and Financing Plan (the “Mine Plan”) had been signed by the Government of Mongolia, OTLLC, Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto. The Mine Plan addresses outstanding OTLLC shareholder matters and provides a pathway forward to the restart of Phase 2 underground development.
On December 14, 2015, Turquoise Hill announced that OTLLC had signed a $4.4 billion finance facility (with provision for up to $6 billion) for underground mine development at the Oyu Tolgoi project. The parties are currently working on completion and approval of an updated Oyu Tolgoi Feasibility Study (including an updated capital estimate), and securing all necessary permits for the development of the underground mine. Pre-start activities have been underway since the third quarter of 2015, and Turquoise Hill expects a formal ‘Notice to Proceed’ decision for underground construction in the second quarter of 2016, once Turquoise Hill, Rio Tinto and OTLLC board approvals are received.
Updated Technical Report
Entrée today filed a technical report titled “Lookout Hill Feasibility Study Update” and dated March 29, 2016 (“LHTR16”) which was prepared in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”). LHTR16 aligns the mine plan for the Entrée/Oyu Tolgoi joint venture property with the technical report titled “Oyu Tolgoi 2014 Technical Report” (“2014 OTTR”), which was filed by Turquoise Hill on October 28, 2014. The 2014 OTTR was based on an updated mine plan using reserves only (“Reserve Case”) and derived from the technical, production and cost data in OTLLC’s 2014 Oyu Tolgoi Feasibility Study.
The Reserve Case is the most likely mining scenario for reserves exploited in the initial (“Lift 1”) underground block cave mining operation, including Lift 1 of the Entrée/Oyu Tolgoi joint venture’s Hugo North Extension deposit. LHTR16 also discusses several alternative production cases that would include resources from other Oyu Tolgoi deposits including the joint venture’s Hugo North Extension Lift 2 and Heruga, and allow for continuous improvement in plant throughput and potential plant expansions up to 350 thousand tonnes per day (“ktpd”). Due to the nature of the deposits associated with Oyu Tolgoi, the project has the flexibility to consider several options for optimizing the overall mine plan for the benefit of stakeholders. Separate development decisions will need to be made based on future prevailing conditions and the experience obtained from developing and operating the initial phases of the project.
Entrée Gold President and CEO, Stephen Scott, stated:
In 2015, we remained focused on building shareholder value through engagement with partners and other local Mongolian stakeholders. Positive announcements in 2015 included the signing of the Oyu Tolgoi Underground Mine Development and Financing Plan and completion of a $4.4 billion finance facility for the re-start of the underground development at Oyu Tolgoi. The final step before the re-start is a formal Notice to Proceed by Turquoise Hill Resources, Oyu Tolgoi LLC and Rio Tinto, which is expected in the second quarter of 2016. We are very excited about these developments as the first lift of the Hugo North Extension deposit is included in the next phase of the underground mine development. In addition, we were very pleased to be able to repurchase a portion of our metal credit stream from Sandstorm Gold subsequent to year-end.
In the third quarter of 2015, we also released an updated Preliminary Economic Assessment for our 100% owned Ann Mason copper-molybdenum porphyry deposit inNevada (see news release of September 9, 2015). The updated PEA incorporates a resource update with 95% of the mineralization constrained within the PEA pit, now classified as either Measured or Indicated resources. The 2015 PEA also includes preliminary results of a detailed metallurgical program. The positive 2015 PEA further substantiates the quality and significance of the Ann Mason deposit and provides a solid base to advance the project.
As market conditions remain depressed, the Company continued implementing plans to significantly reduce its cash burn rate ensuring that we are positioned to meet all challenges as they emerge and at the same time identify strategic growth opportunities with the potential to deliver value to the Company and our shareholders. Following closing of the Sandstorm transaction, the Company had approximately $15.6 million in cash. Overall, Entrée is part of a small group of junior exploration and mining companies with quality assets, strong management, meaningful treasury, and a growth mandate.