TORONTO, April 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- YAMANA GOLD INC. (TSX: YRI; NYSE: AUY) (“Yamana” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce it has entered into a definitive option agreement (the “Option Agreement”) pursuant to which it has granted a privately-held portfolio management and capital markets company based in Argentina, owned by Messrs. Eduardo Elsztain and Saúl Zang, the right to acquire up to a maximum 40% interest in a joint venture formed to hold the Suyai Project, an advanced stage gold project located in Chubut Province in southern Argentina. Messrs. Elsztain and Zang’s portfolio of controlled companies include Argentina’s biggest real estate company, NASDAQ-listed international agricultural companies, along with banking and mining investments. Through its history, the group has led the successful development of significant construction projects across the country.
Under the terms of the Option Agreement, an initial amount of US$2 million will be paid to secure the option and the Argentine group will assume responsibility for all environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) matters and, in particular, the group will lead the permitting efforts aimed to advance the project through its different stages of development. The Argentine group has the right to earn a maximum 40% interest in the resulting joint venture formed to hold the Suyai Project by fulfilling certain obligations and achieving certain milestones, mostly relating to ESG matters, and by paying US$31.6 million in various instalments plus all of their proportionate expenses on or before December 31, 2024. The Company believes there is considerable value, far in excess of cash value, in fulfilling the obligations and achieving the milestones relating to ESG matters which would advance the Suyai project. Through certain of its holding companies, Yamana would hold the remaining 60% of the joint venture.
In the event the project receives approval to proceed, Yamana would oversee its development, applying best industry practices and its experience in project development and operations in southern Argentina. Development of the project would occur under the oversight of a board of directors of the holding company that owns the project with the Argentine group nominating two out of five directors. Yamana would nominate the other directors. The joint venture would be a true joint venture with each party being entitled to its proportion of gold production from the project.
Currently, there is a moratorium on mining in the province of Chubut, which would have to be lifted in order for the project to receive approval to proceed. There can be no assurance that this will occur although one of the objectives of this arrangement leading to the joint venture is for a re-engagement with the province and local community under the control and direction of Argentine parties with greater familiarity of and sensitivity to local ESG issues.
The most recent study of the Suyai Project prepared by Yamana consists of a high grade, small scale underground project whose development and operations would limit surface and local disruption. The preferred plan option calls for the production of high grade gold concentrate, which would be transported by land and by sea to one or more gold smelters world-wide. As only a concentrate would be produced at Suyai, no cyanide or other deleterious chemicals would be used at site. Gold production is expected to reach up to 250,000 ounces annually for an initial eight years.
Yamana Gold Inc. is a Canadian-based precious metals producer with significant gold and silver production, development stage properties, exploration properties, and land positions throughout the Americas, including Canada, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. Yamana plans to continue to build on this base through expansion and optimization initiatives at existing operating mines, development of new mines, the advancement of its exploration properties and, at times, by targeting other consolidation opportunities with a primary focus in the Americas.
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CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS: This news release contains or incorporates by reference “forward-looking statements” and “forward-looking information” under applicable Canadian securities legislation and within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to information with respect to the Company’s strategy, plans or future financial or operating performance, and anticipated benefits of the option transaction. Forward-looking statements are characterized by words such as “plan", “expect”, “budget”, “target”, “project”, “intend”, “believe”, “anticipate”, “estimate” and other similar words, or statements that certain events or conditions “may” or “will” occur. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions, assumptions and estimates of management considered reasonable at the date the statements are made, and are inherently subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other known and unknown factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. These factors include unforeseen impacts on cash flow, monetization initiatives, and available residual cash, an inability to maintain a cash reserve fund balance that can support current or future dividend increases, the outcome of various planned technical studies, production and exploration, development, optimizations and expansion plans at the Company's projects, changes in national and local government legislation, taxation, controls or regulations and/or change in the administration of laws, policies and practices, and the impact of general business and economic conditions, global liquidity and credit availability on the timing of cash flows and the values of assets and liabilities based on projected future conditions, fluctuating metal prices (such as gold, silver and zinc), currency exchange rates (such as the Brazilian Real, the Chilean Peso and the Argentine Peso versus the United States Dollar), the impact of inflation, possible variations in ore grade or recovery rates, changes in the Company’s hedging program, changes in accounting policies, changes in mineral resources and mineral reserves, risks related to asset dispositions, risks related to metal purchase agreements, risks related to acquisitions, changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined, changes in project development, unanticipated costs and expenses, higher prices for fuel, steel, power, labour and other consumables contributing to higher costs and general risks of the mining industry, failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated, unexpected changes in mine life, final pricing for concentrate sales, unanticipated results of future studies, seasonality and unanticipated weather changes, costs and timing of the development of new deposits, success of exploration activities, permitting timelines, government regulation and the risk of government expropriation or nationalization of mining operations, risks related to relying on local advisors and consultants in foreign jurisdictions, environmental risks, unanticipated reclamation expenses, risks relating to joint venture or jointly owned operations, title disputes or claims, limitations on insurance coverage, timing and possible outcome of pending and outstanding litigation and labour disputes, risks related to enforcing legal rights in foreign jurisdictions, as well as those risk factors discussed or referred to herein and in the Company's Annual Information Form filed with the securities regulatory authorities in all provinces of Canada and available at www.sedar.com, and the Company’s Annual Report on Form 40-F filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements if circumstances or management’s estimates, assumptions or opinions should change, except as required by applicable law. The reader is cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. The forward-looking information contained herein is presented for the purpose of assisting investors in understanding the Company’s expected financial and operational performance and results as at and for the periods ended on the dates presented in the Company’s plans and objectives and may not be appropriate for other purposes.