TORONTO, Aug. 12, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Marathon Gold Corporation (“Marathon” or the “Company”; TSX: MOZ) today announces its financial results for the second quarter ending June 30, 2020 and provides an update on the Company’s activities at the Valentine Gold Project (the “Project”) in central Newfoundland.

Highlights of the quarter are as follows:

  • Completed the Pre-Feasibility Study (“PFS”) for the Project in April supporting an open pit mining operation with low initial capital cost and high rate of return over a 12-year mine life. The PFS shows an after-tax IRR of 36% and NPV5% of $472 million (US$354 million) based on US$1,350/oz gold, and an Initial capital cost of $272 million (US$205 million). Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves comprise 1.87 Moz (41.05 Mt at 1.41 g/t Au);
  • Developed return-to-work protocols in response to COVID-19, allowing for site activities such as exploration, geotechnical assessment, and environmental baseline studies to re-start on June 9, 2020 following their suspension on March 13, 2020;
  • To June 30, 2020, completed 7,110 metres of drilling in the 6 kilometre-long Sprite Corridor and 6,502 metres of footwall drilling. Results include the confirmation of significant intersections of high-grade mineralization in the new “Berry Zone”. Approximately 30,000 metres of exploration drilling is budgeted for the second half of 2020;
  • Advanced the Company’s Environmental Assessment activities for the Project, ahead of the expected submission of an Environmental Impact Statement in the third quarter, and conducted virtual meetings with multiple communities, stakeholder groups and First Nations;
  • Established a regional office in Grand Falls-Windsor, committed $110,000 to community development initiatives, and a further $90,000 to COVID-19 relief initiatives including regional health and food security programs;
  • Completed an equity offering for net proceeds of $32.35 million in May, resulting in cash and cash equivalents of $53.98 million at June 30, 2020; and
  • Subsequent to the end of the quarter, announced the appointment of Tim Williams to the role of Chief Operating Officer, and Paolo Toscano to the role of Vice President, Projects.

Matt Manson, President and CEO commented: “In the second quarter we progressed our work at the Valentine Gold Project on multiple fronts. The Pre-Feasibility Study released in April presented the low-capital, high rate of return mining project based on conventional open pit mining and milling that we intend to take into development. We continued to make steady progress on our Environmental Assessment, with continued community consultations, data gathering and technical analysis in support of the submission of our Environmental Impact Study, which is expected shortly. We successfully adapted our site management activities to the new COVID-19 challenges, and restarted exploration, condemnation, and geotechnical work in June. Our exploration in the Sprite Corridor is continuing to see success at the new Berry Zone, which has now returned one of the best drill intersections in the Project’s history, at 3.33 g/t Au over 120m starting at 87 metres depth (new release dated July 22, 2020). Finally, we ended the quarter with a strong treasury of $54 million, following a successful financing in May, and announced the appointments of Tim Williams and Paolo Toscano in the key operating roles of COO and VP Projects, respectively. All of these events are significant milestones for the development of a successful gold mining project at Valentine.”

Financial Performance

The results of operations for the second quarter are summarized below (all figures are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted):

(Stated in thousands of Canadian dollars)  Three Months Ended
June 30,
 Six Months Ended
June 30,
   2020 2019 2020 2019
EXPENSES                 
  General and administrative expense  $2,266  $762   3,147  $1,345 
  Finance income, net   (38)  (69)  (154)  (103)
  Other income   (40)  (28)  (79)  (54)
Loss before tax   2,188   665   2,914   1,188 
  Deferred income tax (recovery) / expense   (193)  88   (851)  193 
Net Loss  $1,995  $753  $2,063  $1,381 
                  
Capital expenditures  $3,338  $3,224  $7,332  $5,404 

Three months ended June 30, 2020:

  • General and administrative expenses increased from $0.76 million to $2.27 million.  The principal components of this increase are set out below:

    • Salaries and wages increased from $0.27 million to $1.04 million, reflecting higher overall compensation costs as a result of the additions made to the Company’s management team in the second half of 2019 and first half of 2020, as well as $0.51 million in severance costs incurred during the second quarter of 2020. These increases were partially offset by lower bonus expense in the three months ended June 30, 2020 compared to 2019, as 2018 bonuses were expensed and paid in the second quarter of 2019. 

    • Share-based compensation expense increased from $0.24 million to $0.85 million in the quarter, resulting from an increase of $0.40 million in stock option expense, related to vesting of options on completion of the PFS and 2020 annual employee option grants, and a $0.24 million increase in the deferred share unit (“DSU”) liability resulting from the increase in the Company’s share price between the end of the first and second quarter of 2020. A total of 3,175,000 options were issued in the three months ended June 30, 2020.

    • Investor relations and corporate communications expenses increased from $0.02 million to $0.08 million, reflecting increased investor and corporate communication initiatives, including engagement with stakeholders in the local communities around the Valentine Gold Project.

  • Finance income, net decreased from $0.07 million to $0.04 million primarily as a result of a decrease in interest income from $0.07 million to $0.05 million, as the interest rate earned on surplus cash balances decreased in the second quarter of 2020 relative to the prior-year quarter.

  • Other income increased from $0.03 million to $0.04 million, resulting from an increase in royalty income due to higher gold prices and increased tonnes mined at the Golden Chest Mine, where the Company holds a 2% net smelter returns royalty.

  • Capital expenditures decreased from $3.22 million to $2.80 million.  Exploration and camp activities in the second quarter of 2020 were less than planned due to the camp closure related to COVID-19, however, activities related to the completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) and various underlying environmental studies and community initiatives remained on schedule. 

Six months ended June 30, 2020:

  • General and administrative expenses increased from $1.35 million to $3.15 million.  The principal components of this increase are set out below:

    • Salaries and wages increased from $0.50 million to $1.45 million, reflecting higher overall compensation costs as a result of the additions made to the Company’s management team in the second half of 2019 and first half of 2020, as well as $0.51 million termination costs incurred during the second quarter of 2020. These increases were partially offset by lower bonus expense in the six months ended June 30, 2020 compared to 2019, as 2018 bonuses were expensed and paid in the second quarter of 2019.

    • Share-based compensation expense increased from $0.30 million to $0.83 million, resulting from an increase of $0.50 million in stock option expense, related to vesting of options on completion of the PFS and 2020 annual employee option grants, and a $0.07 million increase in the deferred share unit (“DSU”) liability resulting from the increase in the share price in the first six months of 2020. A total of 3,175,000 options were issued in the six months ended June 30, 2020.

    • Investor relations and corporate communication expenses increased from $0.11 million to $0.22 million, reflecting increased investor and corporate communication initiatives.

  • Finance income, net increased from $0.10 million to $0.15 million as a result of an increase in interest income from $0.10 million to $0.16 million, as Marathon invested surplus cash from the September 2019 and May 2020 equity financings in interest-bearing deposits.

  • Other income increased from $0.05 million to $0.08 million, resulting from an increase in royalty income due to higher gold prices and increased tonnes mined at the Golden Chest Mine.

  • Capital expenditures increased from $5.40 million to $6.80 million, with the increase reflecting the continued advancement of the Valentine Gold Project including: the completion of the updated January 2020 Mineral Resource Estimate and the April 2020 PFS; the progression of the EIS, including various underlying environmental studies and community initiatives; and continued exploration drilling.

$34.5 Million Bought Deal Financing

On May 26, 2020, the Company completed its previously announced bought deal prospectus offering of 23,000,000 units (the “Units”) at a price of $1.50 per Unit for the aggregate gross proceeds of $34.50 million which included the exercise in full of the underwriters’ over-allotment option.  Each Unit is comprised of one common share of the Company and one half of one common share purchase warrant of the Company (each full warrant, a “warrant”).  Each warrant entitles the holder to acquire one common share of the Company at a price of $1.90 per common share at any time on or before May 26, 2021.

The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the Offering to continue the permitting, development, and exploration of the Valentine Gold Project, as well as for working capital and general corporate purposes.

For further information on Marathon’s operational activities during the second quarter ending June 30, 2020 please see the Company’s Financial Statements and MD&A available on SEDAR (www.sedar.com).

Qualified Person

Scientific and technical information contained in this news release was reviewed and approved by James Powell, P.Eng (NL), VP of Regulatory and Government Affairs and Nicholas Capps, P.Geo. (NL), Project Manager for exploration at the Valentine Gold Project. Exploration data quality assurance and control for Marathon is under the supervision of Jessica Borysenko, P.Geo (NL), GIS Manager for Marathon Gold Corporation. Mr. Powell, Mr. Capps and Ms. Borysenko are Qualified Persons in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) and have approved the technical content of this MD&A. Marathon’s mineral resources and mineral reserves have been calculated in accordance with the standards of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (“CIM”) and in accordance with the requirements of NI 43-101. Mineral resources which are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. Mineral resources are reported inclusive of mineral reserves. Information on data verification performed on, and other scientific and technical information relating to, the Valentine Gold Project are contained in the AIF and the current technical report for the Valentine Gold Project  prepared in accordance with NI 43-101 titled “NI 43-101 Technical Report & Pre-Feasibility Study on the Valentine Gold Project, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada” dated April 21, 2020 with an effective date of April 18, 2020 and prepared by Ausenco Engineering Canada (the “2020 Valentine Technical Report”) available at www.sedar.com

Acknowledgments

Marathon acknowledges the financial support of the Junior Exploration Assistance Program, Department of Natural Resources, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

About Marathon

Marathon (TSX:MOZ) is a Toronto based gold company advancing its 100%-owned Valentine Gold Project located in the central region of Newfoundland and Labrador, one of the top mining jurisdictions in the world. The Project comprises a series of four mineralized deposits along a 20-kilometre system. An April 2020 Pre-Feasibility Study outlined an open pit mining and conventional milling operation over a twelve-year mine life with a 36% after-tax rate of return. The Project has estimated Proven Mineral Reserves of 1.3 Moz (26.3 Mt at 1.52 g/t) and Probable Mineral Reserves of 0.6 Moz (14.8 Mt at 1.23 g/t). Total Measured Mineral Resources (inclusive of the Mineral Reserves) comprise 1.9 Moz (31.7 Mt at 1.86 g/t) with Indicated Mineral Resources (inclusive of the Mineral Reserves) of 1.19 Moz (23.2 Mt at 1.60 g/t). Additional Inferred Mineral Resources are 0.96 Moz (16.77 Mt at 1.78 g/t Au). Please see the Technical Report dated April 21, 2020 for further details and assumptions relating to the Valentine Gold Project.

For more information, please contact:

Matt Manson
President & CEO
Tel: 416 987-0711
mmanson@marathon-gold.com
Hannes Portmann
CFO & Business Development
Tel: 416 855-8200
hportmann@marathon-gold.com
Amanda Mallough
Senior Associate, Investor Relations
Tel: 416 855-8202
amallough@marathon-gold.com

To find out more information on Marathon Gold Corporation and the Valentine Gold Project, please visit www.marathon-gold.com.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information

Certain information contained in this news release constitutes forward-looking information within the meaning of Canadian securities laws (“forward-looking statements”). All statements in this news release, other than statements of historical fact, which address events, results, outcomes or developments that Marathon expects to occur are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements that are predictive in nature, depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, or include words such as “expects”, “anticipates”, “plans”, “believes”, “estimates”, “considers”, “intends”, “targets”, or negative versions thereof and other similar expressions, or future or conditional verbs such as “may”, “will”, “should”, “would” and “could”. We provide forward-looking statements for the purpose of conveying information about our current expectations and plans relating to the future, and readers are cautioned that such statements may not be appropriate for other purposes. More particularly and without restriction, this news release contains forward-looking statements and information about Marathon’s economic analyses for the Valentine Gold Project, capital and operating costs, processing and recovery estimates and strategies, future exploration and mine plans, objectives and expectations and corporate planning of Marathon, future feasibility studies and environmental impact statements and the timetable for completion and content thereof and statements as to management's expectations with respect to, among other things, the matters and activities contemplated in this news release.

Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and assumptions and accordingly, actual results and future events could differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. You are hence cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. A mineral resource that is classified as “inferred” or “indicated” has a great amount of uncertainty as to its existence and economic and legal feasibility. It cannot be assumed that any or part of an “indicated mineral resource” or “inferred mineral resource” will ever be upgraded to a higher category of mineral resource. Investors are cautioned not to assume that all or any part of mineral deposits in these categories will ever be converted into proven and probable mineral reserves.

By its nature, this information is subject to inherent risks and uncertainties that may be general or specific and which give rise to the possibility that expectations, forecasts, predictions, projections or conclusions will not prove to be accurate, that assumptions may not be correct and that objectives, strategic goals and priorities will not be achieved. Factors that could cause future results or events to differ materially from current expectations expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements include availability of financing to fund Marathon’s exploration and development activities, the ability of the current exploration program to identify and expand mineral resources or mineral reserves, operational risks in exploration and development for gold, delays or changes in plans with respect to exploration or development projects or capital expenditures, uncertainty as to calculation of mineral resources or mineral reserves, changes in commodity and power prices, changes in interest and currency exchange rates, the ability to attract and retain qualified personnel, inaccurate geological and metallurgical assumptions (including with respect to the size, grade and recoverability of mineral resources), changes in development or mining plans due to changes in logistical, technical or other factors, title defects, government approvals and permits, cost escalation, changes in general economic conditions or conditions in the financial markets, environmental regulation, operating hazards and risks, delays, taxation rules, competition, public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and other uninsurable risks, liquidity risk, share price volatility, dilution and future sales of common shares, aboriginal claims and consultation, cybersecurity threats, climate change, delays and other risks described in Marathon’s documents filed with Canadian securities regulatory authorities.

You can find further information with respect to these and other risks in Marathon’s Amended and Restated Annual Information Form for the year ended December 31, 2019 ( the “AIF”) and other filings made with Canadian securities regulatory authorities available at www.sedar.com. Other than as specifically required by law, Marathon undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which such statement is made, or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, whether as a result of new information, future events or results otherwise.