Rio Novo Gold Inc. ("Rio Novo" or the "Company") has filed its operational and financial results for the year ended December 31, 2012. The Company's audited consolidated Financial Statements and the accompanying Management's Discussion and Analysis ("MD&A") can be found on SEDAR (www.sedar.com).
The Company is pleased to provide a general overview of some important milestones to date on its projects.
During the year ended December 31, 2012, Rio Novo incurred a net loss of US$ 6,284,119 (US$ 0.06 per share) compared to a net income of US$ 11,196,314 (US$ 0.10 per share) in 2011. Among the factors that contributed to the net loss in the period were a loss of US$ 533,988, attributed to differences in foreign exchange due to US dollar, Brazilian real and Colombian peso exchange rate fluctuations, and interest income and other income increases of US$ 957,294. The net loss also reflected the gain on share purchase warrant revaluation of US$ 2,139,634, attributed to the fair market value warrant adjustment on December 31, 2012.
As at December 31, 2012, the Company had working capital of US$ 5,212,721 and a net cash position of US$ 6,136,842.
Rio Novo 2012 Quarter Corporate Highlights
Highlights for the year ended December 31, 2012 included:
Almas Gold Project
Rio Novo completed a positive definitive Feasibility Study ("FS") of its 100%-owned Almas Gold Project ("Almas"), located in Tocantins State, Brazil. The NI 43-101 compliant FS confirms a technically feasible and economically robust project, with Proven & Probable Reserves of 763,940 ounces of gold, based on a gold price of US$ 1,350 per ounce. The Project is expected to yield a base case, after-tax, 5.0% net present value ("NPV") of $131.2 million and an internal rate of return ("IRR") of 22.1%, using assumed flat LOM gold price of $1,450.00 per ounce. The results of the FS were presented to Rio Novo's Board of Directors and unanimously approved. The construction of the Almas project is now subject to the successful arrangement of project financing.
During the fourth quarter, the Company focused on finalizing the Feasibility Study and soon after its approval it started low cost project development activities. There was no exploration drilling carried out during the quarter at Almas. For the year 2012, the Company has completed 8,150 metres of exploration drilling with a focus on developing the next generation of advanced targets at Almas. As the Almas Gold Project completed its feasibility work, Rio Novo has shifted exploration strategy at Almas to focus on discovering new, higher grade resources close to proposed infrastructure.
Management continued to work along with its financial advisor, Endeavour Financial, on identifying and structuring a suitable project financing package for the Almas project. Discussions with potential lenders are in advanced stages and a number of indicative term sheets have been received by the Company. A final independent due diligence report to support credit committee process is still pending as of the date of this press release, however it is near completion. Management believes that upon delivery of the independent due diligence report, the Company will be in a better position to estimate the debt funding timeline.
In an event subsequent to the year ended on December 31, Rio Novo is pleased to announce the hiring of Sergio Fernandes Saraiva for the position of Mining Manager for the Almas project and Raulino Batista da Silva for the position of General Manager for Plant construction. Both nominations add significant experience to the Almas construction team and reaffirm management's confidence on the project execution.
Sergio Fernandes Saraiva is a Brazilian Mining Engineer with over 35 years of mining experience in Brazil. He has been an Operations Manager, Mining Manager and Mining Planning Manager at a number of companies such as Anglo American, at the Barro Alto nickel mine in the State of Goias, Yamana Gold at the Alto Horizonte copper mine, also in Goias and Mineraçao Rio Do Norte at the Trombetas bauxite mine in the State of Para. He has a graduate degree in Mining Engineering from the Federal University of Ouro Preto.
Raulino Batista da Silva is a Brazilian construction engineer with over 30 years of construction and industrial project management. He has worked for companies such as Vale S/A, Grupo Votorantin, Queiroz Galvao and Tenenge. He has been responsible for the construction and startup of new processing plants for Kinross at the Paracatu gold mine in Minas Gerais and at the Pilar de Goias mine for Yamana Gold. For Vale S/A, he was part of the senior team that built the Salobo Copper Project in the city of Paraopebas, Para State. In addition, he has held the position of Chief Construction Manager for several hydroelectric and thermal power plants throughout Brazil. Mr. Batista has degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics from the Federal University in Bauru and the Ilha Solteria University in Sao Paulo.
Matupá Gold Project (former Guarantã Gold Project)
The Company has been actively exploring the district with two priority targets: the X1 Target and the Matupá target area, plus numerous projects in early exploration. To date, the Company has completed nearly 21,000 m of exploration and resource development drilling in the district.
The Matupá target area consists of a series of Paleoproterozoic granitic intrusives occurring along a 6 Km northwest trend. At least eight porphyry centres have been identified. Gold and silver mineralization is hosted in phyllic and potassic altered granite and monzonite. The area was formerly one of the largest placer gold mining districts in Brazil. During the quarter, Rio Novo focused exploration efforts in the Matupá target. Field work was limited due to the rainy season. The primary work consisted of re-logging existing core from the project and work related to preparation of the next model.
Rio Novo plans to re-initiate field work at the Matupá target after the rainy season. Initial plans call for further trenching, with drilling planned later in the season.
Tolda Fria Gold Project
The Tolda Fria Gold Project is located approximately 10km southeast of the city of Manizales in the Villamaria District, Caldas State, Colombia. The elevation of the prospect ranges from 2,800 to 3,000m above sea level. The Company has registered a 30-year mineral concession and an environmental license for small-scale mining operations. The Company has submitted an updated environmental management plan to Corpocaldas, the state environmental authority, for final approval.
In Q3 2012 Rio Novo completed an exploration program at the Tolda Fria Gold Project, consisting of a first-pass drilling program and a complementary bulk sampling program. The drilling program consisted of 16 drill holes totaling 5,145m. The drilling intersected broad zones of low-grade gold mineralization with a core of high-grade veins. These gold zones generally exhibit a wide area (10m to 70m) of lower grade veinlet mineralization running from 0.3 g/t to 0.7 g/t Au, with internal higher grade veins assaying from 5.0 g/t Au to 36 g/t Au in some areas. Although the drilling cut through the structures projected from underground workings, the high-grade nature of much of the tunnel sampling was only intermittently replicated in the drilling program.
With a view to concentrate its management efforts in building the Almas gold mine, the Company decided to lease the Tolda Fria property/mine to a contractor/operator. A lease agreement was signed in January 2013 with BID Mining Group ("BID"), whereby BID has, at its own cost and risk, to build and operate a small 8 ton-a-day plant for a period of nine months. BID Mining will pay all the costs, including office and operational costs, and the ones required to keep the property in good standing. The Company will receive 40% of the free cash flow of the operation, which will be sufficient to cover any of its administrative and management costs in Colombia not incurred by the contractor/operator of the mine. The aim is to preserve the 30 year mining license for the Tolda Fria property as well as to better understand the deposit by operating a small pilot plant at minimal cost.
Rio Novo will retain supervision and oversight rights over all aspects of the operation by BID on the project. BID is required to comply with all Colombian Federal and Caldas State mining laws and codes as well as Federal and State environmental regulations, procedures, processes, guidelines and codes. Rio Novo Colombia has the right to interrupt and close down operations, in its sole judgment, if it determines infringement of any State or Federal laws.
Operation of the pilot plant and areas to be mined will be focused on testing various high grade areas within the Tolda Fria concession contract and directed by Rio Novo Colombia. As such, the operations by BID will provide the Company with a complement to previously generated geological understanding of the Tolda Fria resource. Bulk sampling, as executed by the pilot plant, and increased vertical mining of the high grade zones should be of significant value in the future.
The Almas Gold Project's Technical Report (the "Almas Technical Report" or "FS"), entitled "Feasibility Study Technical Report for the Almas Gold Project, Almas Municipality, Tocantins, Brazil", has been prepared by RungePincockMinarco ("RPM") (formerly Pincock Allen and Holt ("PAH")) and Tetra Tech Inc. ("Tetra Tech"). The Almas Technical Report, which is compliant with National Instrument 43-101 ("NI 43-101"), has an effective date of February 20, 2013 and is available under the Company's profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and on the Company's website at www.Rnovogold.com.
Brian Arkell, the former senior vice-president exploration and corporate development of Rio Novo, who is a Qualified Person as set out in NI 43-101 of the Canadian Securities Administrators, has reviewed and verified the geological and exploration information contained in this MD&A. In addition, for detailed information on the Tolda Fria Gold Project please refer to the technical report dated May 31, 2011, entitled "NI 43-101 Technical Report on the Tolda Fria Project, Manizales, Colombia" prepared by William J. Crowl, R.G., and Donald Hulse, P.E., of Gustavson Associates, LLC (the "Tolda Fria Technical Report"), which is available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com and on the Company's website at www.Rnovogold.com.