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AFTER a troubled quarter, which was impacted by mill issues, Gold Road Resources reported production within its hastily revised guidance range from the 50:50 Gruyere mine it shares with Gold Fields.
Late in June, the company scaled back the mine's guidance to 52,000-55,000 ounces of gold at higher all-in sustaining costs of A$1675-1800/oz - well down from June 2020's 71,865oz at $1233/oz.
In the end, the Gruyere delivered 53,132oz at better-than-expected costs of $1659/oz, due to higher throughput rates.
Gold Road's free cashflow was negative $4 million for the quarter.
Managing director Duncan Gibbs described the June quarter as disappointing, but said they were the results of an unfortunate series of one-off events: torn mill feed conveyor belt at the plant, and failure of a coupling on the ball mill.
"It was a reminder that our continued maintenance is justified, and we are still confident in our three year outlook," he told analysts this morning.
"The business is still strong, debt-free, and has just paid its first dividend".
Gold Road ended the quarter with $129 million cash, following sales of 28,4250z at an average price of $2145/oz.
Cash was down from $149 million in the March quarter, but was reduced due to the June loss, and payments for taxes and royalties.
The quarter was always going to see production dip, with grade falling to 0.8 grams per tonne as the open pit mine worked through an expected lower grade zone, but reconciliation was in line with expectations, and should improve over the coming months as it moves into the stage three pit area.
"The grade has not caught us by surprise, and we don't expect it will continue below 1gpt, but we had expected better mill availability," Gibbs said.
He noted material movements were up, and stripping ratios were down.
While its 2021 full calendar year outlook for the mine is expected to land at the lower end of guidance of 260,000-300,000oz at $1325-1475/oz, which "implies a stronger performance in the second half".
During the quarter, the partners completed three deep drillholes below the pit with encouraging results, so it has revised designs for a second phase to target the higher grade northern shoot.
Gibbs said the JV had focused on the north, rather than the existing underground resources to the south, because it wanted to understand the system at depth, and potential bring the northern shoot into the resource.
"All the evidence we have seen to date shows it is clear the system will extend considerably at depth," Gibbs said.
Gruyere passed its second anniversary on June 30, producing 475,648opz at an average $1307/oz.
Remaining reserves and resources are currently 1.7Moz and 4.5Moz.
An updated reserves statement remains on track for later this year.
The company noted its 100%-owned Yamarna exploration program was continuing to generate promising results and new targets, with five rigs in the field.
Gold Road's shares, which have traded between $1-2 over the past year, were up 3% today to $1.29.