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Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd
Symbol KL
Shares Issued 277,244,914
Close 2020-06-30 C$ 55.90
Recent Sedar Documents

Kirkland lowers 2020 production guidance to 1.4 M oz

2020-06-30 14:49 ET - News Release

Mr. Anthony Makuch reports

KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD RE-ISSUES 2020 GUIDANCE

Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. has reissued guidance for 2020 after withdrawing the company's guidance for the year on April 2, 2020, due to the impact of measures introduced to protect the company's workers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Included among the reissued guidance is production of 1.35 million to 1.4 million ounces, improved unit costs, lower expected sustaining capital expenditures and higher target growth capital expenditures resulting from new growth projects at the Detour Lake mine. Continuing costs related to the company's COVID-19 protocols are included in operating cash cost guidance, while non-recurring COVID-19 costs, estimated at $10-million (U.S.) to $15-million (U.S.) and incurred during periods of reduced or suspended operations, are excluded from the company's reissued 2020 guidance. All dollar amounts are in United States dollars unless otherwise stated.

The decision to reissue 2020 guidance follows the ramp-up of operations at Detour Lake and Macassa, which had both been transitioned to reduced operations as part of the company's COVID-19 response. The company has also resumed work on key projects, including shaft sinking at the Macassa No. 4 shaft project, and is ramping up exploration drilling, which had ceased company wide as part of the company's COVID-19 protocol to suspend all non-essential activities. Operations at the Holt complex remain on temporary suspension after being stopped, effective April 2, 2020. The company continues to have a wide range of health and safety protocols in place designed to protect workers, with many of the measures relating to medical screening and social distancing expected to be in place for the foreseeable future.

Highlights of reissued 2020 guidance:

  • Production guidance of 1.35 million to 1.4 million ounces compares with withdrawn guidance for 2020 of 1.47 million to 1.54 million ounces and 2019 production of 974,615 ounces. The change from previous guidance reflects the removal of production guidance for the Holt complex after March 31, 2020 (Holt complex production of 28,584 ounces in first quarter 2020, is included in reissued guidance), and lower expected levels of production at Macassa due largely to COVID-19 (Q1 2020 consolidated production totalled 330,864 ounces).
  • Operating cash costs per ounce sold guidance of $410 to $430 and all-in sustaining cost (AISC) per ounce sold guidance of $790 to $810 are improved from previous guidance of $450 to $470 and $820 to $840, respectively, as the impact of COVID-19 protocols is expected to be offset by the suspension of operations at the Holt complex, as well as the impact of a number of company initiatives and changes in market conditions (Q1 2020 operating cash costs per ounce sold of $440 and AISC per ounce sold of $776).
  • Exploration expenditure guidance is revised to $130-million to $150-million, including capitalized exploration expenditures, from $150-million to $170-million in the previous guidance. The reduction from previous guidance reflects disruptions caused by COVID-19, partially offset by the inclusion of $18-million of exploration expenditures related to the company's Northern Territory assets, mainly incurred in Q1 2020, which was not included in previous guidance. Exploration drilling across the company was suspended at the end of March due to COVID-19, with the resumption of drilling at Fosterville, Macassa and Detour Lake commencing in May and the ramp-up expected to continue over the next few months (Q1 2020 exploration expenditures of $36-million).
  • Sustaining capital expenditure guidance of $390-million to $400-million compares with previous guidance of $420-million to $430-million. The reduction mainly reflects the removal of expected sustaining capital expenditures at the Holt complex after March 31, 2020, from reissued guidance, as well as the impact of changes in market conditions, partially offset by the impact of a number of company initiatives (Q1 2020 sustaining capital expenditures totalled $90-million, including $48.3-million for two months at Detour Lake).
  • Growth capital expenditure guidance of $95-million to $105-million compares with previous guidance of $70-million to $80-million. The increase in growth capital expenditure guidance relates mainly to the addition of new projects at the Detour Lake Mine following the completion of the Detour Gold acquisition. (Q1 2020 growth capital expenditures of $22.6 million.)
  • See the "Non-IFRS Measures" section starting on page 24 of the Company's MD&A for the three months ended March 31, 2020 filed on the Company's profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
  • Exploration expenditures include capital expenditures related to infill drilling for Mineral Resource conversion, capital expenditures for extension drilling outside of existing Mineral Resources and expensed exploration.

Tony Makuch, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented: "We withdrew our 2020 guidance recognizing the uncertainties around COVID-19 and the need to assess the impacts of the many measures and protocols introduced to protect workers, their families and our communities. We are still working on assessing these impacts but felt that it was important to advise the market about our current expectations for full-year 2020, recognizing that new developments related to COVID-19 occur constantly and our guidance is subject to change. Based on current expectations, we anticipate results not dissimilar to our previous guidance. Production in 2020 is now targeted at 1,350,000 {&#A A ; –} 1,400,000 ounces, approximately 90% of the previous target range of 1,470,000 {&#A A ; –} 1,540,000 ounces. The expected reduction mainly results from the removal of the Holt Complex from our guidance after March 31, 2020, and somewhat lower production at Macassa due to the impact of COVID-19 protocols. At Detour Lake, we expect to make up most of the lost production during the period of reduced operations and our production guidance for Fosterville remains unchanged.

"Turning to costs, we expect improved unit costs compared to previous guidance due to the removal of Holt Complex from our 2020 guidance, which is a relatively high-cost operation, as well as changes in market conditions. Exploration expenditure guidance is reduced largely due to the impact of suspending drilling as part of our COVID-19 response. To be clear, we plan to complete all the drilling programs included in our initial 2020 guidance but recognize that completion of some of this work will likely move into 2021. We currently have nine drills deployed at Fosterville, four drills at Macassa and two drills at Detour Lake, with plans to increase the number of drills at all three of these assets over the next few months. Sustaining capital expenditure guidance is reduced, largely reflecting the removal of planned capital expenditures at Holt Complex, while growth capital expenditure guidance has increased mainly due to the commencement of a number of new projects at Detour Lake Mine, including construction of an assay lab, an air strip, a welding shop and a number of mill improvements. Growth capital at Macassa and Fosterville remains largely unchanged from the initial guidance of $50 {&#A A ; –} $55 million for Macassa and approximately $20 million for Fosterville. As previously announced, we are making excellent progress with the Macassa #4 shaft and, with a change in project scope, now expect completion in late 2022, over a year ahead of the initial schedule. At Fosterville, we completed commissioning of the new ventilation system earlier this month and our new gold room/refinery is completed and fully operational."

Effective June 30, 2020, consolidated production guidance for 2020 was 1,350,000 {&#A A ; –} $1,400,000 ounces, with the reduction from the previous guidance mainly related to the removal of Holt Complex production guidance after March 31, 2020. Actual production in Q1 2020 of 28,584 ounces from the Holt Complex is included in the re-issued production guidance for 2020. The reduction in production guidance also reflects lower expected production at Macassa due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 protocols. At Detour Lake, the Company expects to make up most of the production lost during reduced operations over the last two months, while production guidance at Fosterville remains unchanged.

Guidance for operating cash costs per ounce sold and AISC per ounce sold is improved to $410 {&#A A ; –} $430 and $790 {&#A A ; –} $810, respectively, from the previous guidance of $450 {&#A A ; –} $470 and $820 {&#A A ; –} $840, respectively, largely due to the suspension of operations at Holt Complex, a relatively high cost operation, as well as the impact of a number of Company initiatives and changes in market conditions. These factors more than offset the impact of COVID-19 protocols on productivity and efficiency, particularly at Macassa.

Exploration expenditure guidance is reduced to $130 {&#A A ; –} $150 million from $150 {&#A A ; –} $170 million in the previous guidance. The reduction from previous guidance largely reflects disruptions caused by COVID-19, with all exploration drilling being suspended around the end of March, as well as the impact of changes in market conditions. These factors are partially offset by the inclusion of $18.0 million of exploration expenditures related to the Company's Northern Territory assets, mainly incurred in Q1 2020, which was not included in previous guidance. The Company excluded the Northern Territory assets from previous 2020 guidance while it considered the future of these assets. With a decision being reached in March to discontinue all test production and exploration work in the Northern Territory, with no plans for a resumption of business activities other than the continuation of ongoing water rehabilitation work, the $18.0 million of realized exploration expenditures are now included in the Company's 2020 guidance. The resumption of exploration drilling at Fosterville, Macassa and Detour Lake commenced in May with the ramp up expected to continue over the next few months.

2020 guidance for sustaining capital expenditures is revised to $390 {&#A A ; –} $400 million from $420 {&#A A ; –} $430 million previously with the reduction largely related to the removal of planned sustaining capital expenditures for the Holt Complex after March 31, 2020 and changes in market conditions, partially offset by the impact of a number of Company initiatives. Growth capital expenditures are now targeted at $95 {&#A A ; –} $105 million compared to previous guidance of $70 {&#A A ; –} $80 million, with the increase mainly related to the addition of new growth projects at Detour Lake Mine. The Company's guidance for 2020 growth capital expenditures at Macassa and Fosterville remains unchanged at $50 {&#A A ; –} $55 million and approximately $20 million, respectively.

The re-issued 2020 guidance for royalty expense totaled $80 {&#A A ; –} $85 million, which compares to previous guidance of $85 {&#A A ; –} $90 million. The reduction from the previous guidance mainly reflects the removal of expected royalty expense at the Holt Complex, primarily the Holt Mine, from March 31, 2020 to the end of the year. Corporate G&A expense guidance remains unchanged at $50 {&#A A ; –} $55 million.

Qualified Persons

The technical contents related to Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. mines and properties, have been reviewed and approved by Natasha Vaz, P.Eng., Senior Vice President, Technical Services and Innovation and Eric Kallio, P.Geo, Senior Vice President, Exploration. Ms. Vaz and Mr. Kallio are "qualified persons" as defined in National Instrument 43-101 and have reviewed and approved disclosure of the technical information and data in this press release.

About Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd.

Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. is a growing gold producer operating in Canada and Australia that produced 974,615 ounces in 2019. The production profile of the Company is anchored by three high-quality operations, including the Macassa Mine and Detour Lake Mine, both located in Northern Ontario, and the Fosterville Mine located in the state of Victoria, Australia. Kirkland Lake Gold's solid base of quality assets is complemented by district scale exploration potential, supported by a strong financial position with extensive management expertise.

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