Brian Post, ROTH Capital Partners (5/13/13) "Comstock Mining Inc.'s Q1/13 financial results were healthy. . .operational throughput has increased substantially now that the company is able to utilize more efficient off-highway ore transport, which is now running at permitted capacity, and cost savings have been realized. This increase has happened faster than we had anticipated. . .we are pleased with Comstock's progress and look forward to the next major catalyst. . .given the company's positive momentum and producer status, we believe Comstock shares are an attractive option for investors looking to take advantage of depressed valuations in the sector."
COMSTOCK MINING RECEIVES FAVORABLE ACTION FROM BLM
Haulage to Shift off State Route 342
Virginia City, NV (February 21, 2013) -- Comstock Mining Inc. (the “Company” or “Comstock”) (NYSE MKT: LODE) announced that the United States Department of the Interior - Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has made a determination to allow the Company to move forward with a Class 1 Color-of-Title Act claim (“CoT claim”) with respect to Lot 51, a 25-acre parcel in Gold Hill, Nevada. As part of this process, the BLM is allowing for the Company’s limited interim use of the existing haul road segment that crosses Lot 51, providing a more efficient connection to a previously granted, non-exclusive Right-of-Way (“RoW”) for access to its processing facility in American Flat.
In its CoT claim, the Company successfully demonstrated its good faith belief that it has held title to this parcel for over 20 years, made valuable improvements in the form of constructed mining haul roads and provided explicit documentation of purported title conveyance. Permanent resolution of the claim will occur when the Company purchases a patent for the parcel. The BLM will require a plat survey from the Chief Cadastral Surveyor for the State of Nevada, an appraisal of Lot 51, public notices and payment of the purchase price before this patent is issued.
“This is a strong, positive example of a private-public partnership working diligently and effectively for the entire community at large,” stated Corrado De Gasperis, President and CEO of Comstock. “We are relieved to remove our trucks from the State Route and make better use of the existing haul road. I want to personally thank Storey County, the Nevada Department of Transportation and the BLM for their commitment to doing this right. Comstock Mining remains committed to the current Environmental Assessment process.”
In order to comply with the guidelines in the currently authorized RoW grant, the Company will use different, highway-rated vehicles. The vehicles will travel a shorter distance while carrying a larger load, thus decreasing overall traffic on American Flat Road, while also reducing haul truck traffic on the State Route. These vehicles will also un-block the mine area from logistical constraints imposed by the previously used vehicles, increase throughput by increasing the haul per trip and reduce costs significantly by reducing the number of trips, and most importantly, minimize disruption to the community caused by the use of the State Route.
The CoT claim does not conflict with nor negate the need for the Company to continue with its current Environmental Assessment process. Late in the fourth quarter of 2012, the Company and the BLM entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expedite the remainder of the permitting process for the exclusive-use Right of Way. In January, the BLM launched public scoping, a process for determining the scope of potential public issues. The relevant public meetings have already been completed. Once granted, this Right of Way will further increase the efficiencies of hauling by allowing the Company to widen the existing haul road, better accommodate residential and visitor traffic, and cross certain small sections of federal land not currently used by Comstock Mining.
Mr. DeGasperis concluded: “Allowing our claim represents a breakthrough that enables more expedient use of Lot 51 and significant hauling efficiencies. We look forward to a continued, productive partnership with the BLM and our community.”
COMSTOCK MINING UPDATES NI 43-101 TECHNICAL REPORT
M&I RESOURCE INCREASES to 2.15 MILLION GOLD-EQUIV OUNCES,
LUCERNE M&I INCREASES 25%, WITH NEWLY DISCOVERED CHUTE ZONE
Virginia City, NV (February 7, 2013) -- Comstock Mining Inc. or “the Company” (NYSE MKT: LODE) announced today the highlights of its fourth National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101) technical report (the “2013 Report”, or the “Report”) authored by Behre Dolbear & Company (USA), Inc. of Denver Colorado. The Report declared a mineral resource estimate for the Comstock Mine Project in Storey and Lyon Counties, Nevada, of Measured and Indicated Resources containing 1,824,000 ounces of gold and 17,100,000 ounces of silver, for a total of 2,150,000 gold equivalent ounces, and an estimate of an Inferred Resource containing an additional 870,000 gold equivalent ounces. These estimates include the newly identified Chute Zone, a wedge-like, structurally bounded zone that hosts significant gold and silver. The Report also includes an additional 200,000 gold equivalent ounces outside of the modeled area, in the Historical Resource Category.
COMSTOCK MINE PROJECT RESOURCE SUMMARY
Total Measured and Indicated ii
i.Resource total based on a gold cutoff of 0.007 ounces per ton
ii.Rounding differences may occur
Comstock Mining Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer, Corrado De Gasperis commented, “Discovery of the East-side Chute Zone and the better than expected increase of Measured and Indicated Resource in Lucerne is tremendously rewarding for our team. Quantifying over 3.2 million gold-equivalent ounces, on just a fraction of our land position, provides us with significant confidence in the long-term future of the Lucerne Mine and our overall resource goals.”
The 2013 Report incorporates the results of the Company’s 2012 drilling program, which ran from January 25, 2012 through December 7, 2012. The program focused on infill and development drilling in the Lucerne Resource area, comprised of 391 holes totaling 146,274 feet. The drilling program consisted of 364 reverse circulation (RC) holes, totaling 138,521 feet, and 27 core holes, totaling 7,754 feet. The drilling totals also included fourteen widely-spaced exploration holes in Spring Valley (previously announced in a May 9, 2012 Press Release) and 22 step-out and infill holes in the East Side target (previously announced in a November 7, 2012 Press Release). The total cost of the program was $4.87 million, with an average cost per foot of $33.26.
The 2013 Report comments, “Behre Dolbear believes the Comstock Mine Project represents a well-explored epithermal precious metal deposit within a world-class mining district… The geology of the project area is well described and understood through vigorous surface mapping and drill hole logging. The density of geologic data is high and the reliability is excellent, particularly in the various Lucerne Mine areas.”
The Report also comments on the Company’s completely redesigned and rebuilt processing facility, and the operating results through the end of 2012. The Company estimates that the heap leach ultimate recovery will average over 70% for gold and over 45% for silver.
Lucerne Area Details
The Lucerne Resource Area includes the previously operated Lucerne, Hartford, and Billie the Kid pits; the historic Justice and Keystone surface cuts and underground mines; and the historic Woodville bonanza. The modeled mineralization covers approximately 5,400 feet of strike length. The Lucerne Resource Area is also host to the Company’s Lucerne Mine, opened in 2012, with an associated heap leach and Merrill-Crowe processing facility.
The Lucerne development drilling directly supported the start-up of the Lucerne Mine, extending the life of the mine plan, and confirming the continuity of the mineralization.
Chute Zone Discovery
Although the Company drilled a limited number of East-side holes, the results led to the discovery and interpretation of the “Chute Zone” by Company geologists. This intersection between the northwest striking and northeast dipping Silver City fault, and a series of northeast striking and southeast dipping structures hosts a zone of enhanced mineralization. The zone consistently averages 0.095 ounces of gold per ton over drill intercepts of 50 to 270 feet, and has currently mapped dimensions of 100 to 150 feet by 100 feet by 450 feet.
“Since 2008, our geologists have recognized the enhanced grades of precious metals when northeasterly striking mineralized structures intersected the Silver City fault zone,” stated Larry Martin, VP of Exploration and Mine Development. “Now we have identified a specific, wedge-like, structurally bounded zone that hosts significant gold and silver, which we are calling the ‘Chute Zone’. The geometric shape is similar to high grade zones historically mined in the Comstock district as bonanzas.”
Behre Dolbear concluded, “Exploration opportunities to expand the known mineralization down-dip and along strike to the north, south, and east are still good, and excellent in the East Side and Chute zones, and have the potential of adding considerably to the estimated Measured and Indicated Resource.”
The updated resource estimate for the Lucerne Resource Area incorporates these new results, and now totals 53,550,000 tons of Measured and Indicated Resources, containing 1,586,000 ounces of gold and 15,330,000 ounces of silver. The total of 1,880,000 gold-equivalent ounces1 in the Lucerne Resource Area is a 25% increase over the total stated in the September, 2011 Technical Report (the “2011 Report”).
LUCERNE RESOURCE AREA SUMMARY
Total Measured and Indicated ii
i.Resource total based on a gold cutoff of 0.007 ounces per ton
ii.Rounding differences may occur
Dayton Area Details
The 2013 Report also re-states the Company’s mineral resource estimate for the Dayton Resource Area, which was completely described in the 2011 Report. This area, south of the Lucerne Resource Area, includes the historic Dayton, Alhambra, Kossuth, Cherokee, and Metropolitan mines.
The Company is currently ramping-up mining and processing activities in the Lucerne mine, with the goal of increasing the production rate to 400 gold-equivalent ounces per week. The ongoing technical program includes continuing infill drilling, metallurgical testing, and geotechnical testing for a second mine in the Dayton Resource Area. In addition, the Company is designing a new phase of exploration drilling to include its highest-potential targets, including fully-developing the East Side and Chute targets in the Lucerne Resource Area, and the continuation of the mineralization from the Dayton Resource Area into both the Spring Valley and Oest target areas.
Mr. DeGasperis concluded, "Discovery of the East-side Chute, similar to certain historic bonanzas was inevitable but no less thrilling for our team. We look forward to finalizing our updated drill programs for 2013, and resuming those activities after the Lucerne Mine stabilizes production at our 400 ounce per week target."
Gold equivalent ounces were calculated using January 31, 2013 London PM prices of $1,664.75 per ounce of gold and $32.03 per ounce of silver, as published by kitco.com. This resulted in a ratio of 51.97 ounces of silver per equivalent ounce of gold, without taking into consideration the relative recoveries of gold and silver. The Company’s current estimates for heap leach recovery are 70% for gold and 45% for silver.
2012 Fourth Quarter Revenues, Costs and 2013 Outlook
Virginia City, NV (January 31, 2013) -- Comstock Mining Inc. (the “Company”) (NYSE MKT: LODE) announced unaudited production, revenues and operational costs for 2012, and its 2013 outlook.
The Company commenced full mining activities in August 2012, and began pouring gold and silver in late September 2012. Metal shipments in the fourth quarter 2012 totaled $5.4 million, with gold revenues of $4.5 million and silver revenues of $0.9 million. Silver is accounted for as a by-product credit for financial reporting purposes. The Company is ramping up its production and plans to achieve a sustained production rate of 400 gold-equivalent ounces poured per week, or over 20,000 gold-equivalent ounces per annum. Since pouring commenced, the Company has averaged 223 gold-equivalent ounces poured per week. During the past eight weeks, the Company averaged 250 gold-equivalent ounces poured per week and in the past two weeks averaged over 300 gold-equivalent ounces poured per week. The Company is successfully and continuously adjusting its operations to improve grade, maximize yields and increase tons crushed and stacked. The Company continues to advance activities in each of these areas on a weekly basis keeping it on track for achieving the 400 gold-equivalent ounce target rate, by late April 2013.
Comstock's Chief Executive Officer, Corrado De Gasperis commented, "Over the past three months, we have successfully transitioned into production with less than optimal mining and hauling conditions and have begun growing our weekly metal pours toward our immediate objective of 400 gold-equivalent ounces per week. Costs have been reduced from a primarily construction and ramp up mode into a stable production mode, and have since been further reduced."
The Company has also crushed and stacked over 360,000 dry tons of mineralized material since production began, delivering 6,519 estimated ounces of recoverable gold and over 55,770 estimated ounces of recoverable silver to the leach pad, positioning the Company well for sustained growth. Material placed on the heap leach pad remains under solution until the target recovery rates are achieved. Throughout this period, the recovery of gold and silver continues, but the most effective economic recovery of gold and silver takes between 45 to 60 days to complete. The portion of the heap under leach the longest, 80 days, has recovery of gold estimated at 67% and the recovery of silver estimated at 51%. Preliminary laboratory metallurgical test results provide the Company confidence that ultimate heap leach recovery will meet or exceed the expected 70% for gold and 45% for silver.
Through December 31, 2012, the Company realized an average price of $1,744.36 price per ounce of gold, including the benefits of the first commemorative bar, and a $32.56 average sales price per ounce of silver. In comparison, commodity market prices in the fourth quarter of 2012 averaged $1,721.79 per ounce of gold and $32.68 per ounce of silver.
The Company plans on announcing its audited 2012 Annual financial statements on March 14, 2013. The Company previously provided estimates of the Lucerne Mine’s annual operating expenses, including mining, processing, royalties and mine administration costs of approximately $13.3 million per annum plus $3 million of higher costs associated with temporarily using the longer, alternative haul route, or a total of $16.3 million per annum.
During the fourth quarter 2012, actual Lucerne Mine operating expenses were approximately $4.1 million (an annualized rate of approximately $16.5 million), including the higher haulage costs. Continued cost optimization resulted in December 2012 with mine operating costs of $1.3 million, further reducing our annualized spend rate to approximately $15.5 million and below plan.
The estimated operating expenses do not include corporate administration or other general and administrative costs, nor do they include exploration and mine development costs. Exploration and mine development activities were completed in early December 2012, with approximately $1.7 million expended. The Company is not currently drilling and does not plan on resuming these activities until the Lucerne Mine stabilizes at the 400 gold-equivalent ounce weekly production rate.
The Company has completed the updated resource estimates for the Lucerne Resource Area. Behre Dolbear & Company (USA), Ltd. (“Behre Dolbear”) of Denver Colorado is currently completing a technical report with their analysis and recommendations. The Company plans to release the highlights of this important work next week, and then publish Behre Dolbear’s full technical report soon thereafter.
Federal Permitting and Lot 51
The Company has also made extensive, positive progress with the BLM regarding accessing the primary haul road between the Lucerne Mine and the processing facility in American Flat. Late in the fourth quarter of 2012, the Company and the BLM entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expedite the remainder of the permitting process for the Lucerne Right of Way permit. In January, the BLM launched the public scoping (a process for determining the scope of potential public issues) for comments associated with this permit application. The relevant public meetings have already been completed, with strong public support. In addition, the BLM is also concurrently processing a Color of Title permit application to resolve and recover the use of Lot 51, one of the main blocking factors limiting the use of the Company’s existing haul road. Recent discussions with the BLM have been very positive and acceptance of the application would represent a breakthrough allowing more expedient use of Lot 51 and potentially significant hauling efficiencies.
In the last three months, modifications and optimizations have been engineered into the Company’s mine planning, hauling, crushing and recovery systems. The Company has updated its financial analysis for the Lucerne Mine and anticipates annual operating expenses, including mining, processing, royalties and mine administration costs of approximately $13 million per annum, plus approximately $2.25 million of additional, annual haulage costs, with a production schedule currently processing at the rate of one million tons per annum. The Company currently anticipates production rates beyond the 400 gold-equivalent ounces per week in the second half of the year, ultimately achieving between 18-20,000 actual gold-equivalent ounces produced in 2013. The Company believes its liquidity and capital resources are sufficient for achieving its objectives. These production rates and costs are not only expected to result in positive cash performance, but the cash flows are anticipated to be sufficient for debt service and the resumption of self-funded development drilling by the Comstock team.
Mr. De Gasperis concluded, "Our revenue growth and expense management is positively impacting our liquidity, stability and ultimately, our growth. We are further minimizing mining costs across our system. We have also significantly reduced or eliminated external legal, administrative, environmental and regulatory costs associated with non-routine activities, positioning us well for 2013 growth."
Nevada's Chief Economist Says Mining Industry Shows Strongest Employment Gains Nevada Miner News - June 20, 2012 Bill Anderson, Nevada's leading economist, recently told the Reno Gazette-Journal (RGJ) that the the state's mining industry has shown the strongest employment gains among all Nevada industries. "So far this year in the private sector, employment is up by 14,000 jobs compared to the first quarter of last year," explained Anderson. "Our labor markets are slowly improving." Anderson told the RGJ that job growth has been primarily in the leisure and hospitality industries with the strongest improvement coming in mining.