Centerra Gold poised to restore dividend, CEO says

Centerra Gold’s mill at its Mount Milligan copper-gold mine in British Columbia. Source: Centerra Gold Inc.

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Centerra Gold’s mill at its Mount Milligan copper-gold mine in British Columbia. Source: Centerra Gold Inc.

Centerra Gold Inc. [CG-TSX, CAGDF-OTC] is likely to reinstate its dividend after it closes a deal with Kyrgyzstan to resolve a longstanding dispute over the Kumtor gold mine, Centerra CEO Scott Perry has told Reuters news service.

The company expects the agreement, which it reached in September 2017 to resolve issues including the environmental and profit-sharing disputes, to close by June, 2019, Perry said during an interview at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Toronto Tuesday.

The possible restoration of the dividend comes after Centerra announced positive news last week in relation to its bid to secure a vital supply of water for its Mount Milligan copper-gold mine in British Columbia.

The company said it has received a green light from B.C. regulators to access water from Philip Lake 1, Rainbow Creek and Meadow Creek for a three-year period until November 31, 2021.

Centerra also said it will also be permitted to access water from groundwater sources within a radius of six kilometres of the Mount Milligan Mine for the life of the operation.

The Mount Milligan mine is one of two flagship assets in the Centerra Gold portfolio. The other is the Kumtor Mine, which is located in the Kyrgyz Republic near the Chinese border at an altitude of 4,000 metres. The company’s portfolio also includes the Oksut Gold project in Turkey and the late stage Kemess development project in B.C.

The Kumtor agreement reached in September, 2017, was designed to end mutual lawsuits, drop all environmental claims, halt court proceedings and allow Centerra to transfer funds from the country that had been frozen by the Kyrgyz Republic.

However, the deadline for all conditions to be met under the strategic agreement has repeatedly been extended, most recently until May 31, 2019.

It should be noted here that a non-confidence vote resulted in a change of government last year.

Centerra recently said it exceeded its overall 2018 production and cost guidance by producing 729,556 ounces of gold at an all-in sustaining cost on a by-product basis of US$754 an ounce sold. The company said Kumtor produced 534,563 ounces of gold at an all-in sustaining cost of US$694 per ounce.

Mount Milligan produced 47.1 million pounds of copper and 194,993 ounces of gold during 2018, an amount that was at the upper end of the company’s revised guidance in spite of the fact that the mill was temporarily shut down until early February and operate at a reduced capacity as it ramped up. The mill also operated at a reduced rate in the fourth quarter due to a shortage of water resources in the milling process.

For 2019, the company has said it is anticipating consolidated gold production to be in the range of 690,000 to 740,000 ounces and 65 million to 75 million pounds of payable copper production from Mount Milligan.

On Wednesday, Centerra shares eased 1.7% or 11 cents to $6.44. The 52-week range is $8.21 and $4.76.

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