St Barbara reports half-year results; faces environmental charges in Nova Scotia

St Barbara’s Touquoy mine in Nova Scotia. Credit: St Barbara

Australia-based miner St Barbara (ASX: SBM) has released financial results for its half-year ended Dec. 31 that represent “an encouraging recovery from the operational disappointments of the first quarter,” according to the company’s managing director and CEO, Craig Jetson.

In a release, the company noted that performance had improved at all three of its operations – including its Atlantic Gold operations 60 km northeast of Halifax, N.S., which it acquired in mid-2019.

“Over consecutive halves, Atlantic Gold has delivered record production as continuous improvements in mill throughout generated early returns,” Jetson said.

For the six months ended Dec. 31, St Barbara produced a total of 162,600 oz. of gold across its operations at all-in sustaining costs of A$1,605 per oz. (US$1,240). In addition to the Touquoy open pit at its Atlantic Gold operations in Canada, the company has the Leonora operation in Western Australia, and its Simberi mine in Papua New Guinea.

Atlantic Gold contributed 53,919 oz. gold at an AISC of A$1,002 per oz. (US$774) for the half-year.

For the period, the company reported underlying after-tax profits of A$39.9 million – up from A$34.7 million in the same period of last year due to the higher price of gold. It ended the year with A$119 million in cash and A$101 million in debt.

For its full year 2021, ending in June, St Barbara expects to produce 370,000-410,000 oz. across its operations at an AISC of A$1,360-A$1,510 per oz.

Environmental charges

Nova Scotia Environment has laid 32 environmental charges against St Barbara’s Atlantic Gold operations, 27 of which refer to incidents that predate the mine’s acquisition in 2019. The environmental incidents were all self-reported by the company to Nova Scotia Environment and St Barbara says full and thorough remediation work was conducted at the time the incidents occurred. The miner continues to focus on mitigation.

The company reports the main incidents are related to instances where significant rainfall events have caused water, containing silty road materials, to run off secondary access driveways, causing the existing storm water management system to overflow.

St Barbara doesn’t expect the charges to affect current operations, or to have a material impact on the company’s financial results.

According to the Chronicle Herald, the maximum penalty for each offence is a $1 million fine.

The charges come as St Barbara is planning an expansion of its Atlantic operations. The company intends to develop the nearby Beaver Dam, Fifteen Mile Stream and Cochrane Hill deposits as satellite deposits to its Touquoy operation, which hosts a 2-million t/y mill. Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream both lie northeast of Touquoy, along the 45-km Moose River Corridor. Cochrane Hill is a bit farther away, 145 km northeast of Halifax.

The company submitted an environmental impact statement (EIS) for Fifteen Mile stream in early February, and expects to submit an EIS for Beaver Dam this year. But in December it announced it would delay the start of permitting for Cochrane Hill until late 2024, after the other two satellite pits are in production.

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