MAC: Mines and Communities

Robert Friedland Expanding in Burma

Published by MAC on 2005-03-24

Robert Friedland Expanding in Burma

Comment by Eric Snider, March 24 2005

Ivanhoe Mines has issued its annual Financial Report that includes extensive notes on its operations in Burma. It's 87 pages long, much of which has to do with several mines being developed in Mongolia, along with the audited financial statement I've culled the major parts that are concerned with the Monywa copper mine and I'm pasting them below.

The big news here is the spelling out of the plan for the 'gradual' exploitation of the Letpadaung deposit adjacent to the existing S & K mining pits. Ivanhoe and the military government's No 1 Mining Co will finish paying off their long term debt to their Japanese debenture holders this year and the report indicates that the additional cash flow generated from the existing operations will be directed towards the Letpadaung project. A more detailed plan will be issued in the second quarter, perhaps in time for the Ivanhoe AGM which is in May, a month earlier than usual this year.

The section on the risks faced in developing the Letpadaung deposit is particularly interesting and definitely worth a read. All those potential investors that Friedland claims to have lined up for Letpadaung must be a mite nervous about the promises of assured electric power. An article in the Myanmar Times last week revealed that the new 280 MW hydro plant near Pyinmana will only have sufficient water in its reservoir to operate one 70 MW generator for more than half the year during the dry season. All the new plants that are supposed to come on line are years behind schedule.

Oddly enough, there is nothing in this year's report about the small Moditaung gold mine which Ivanhoe has been developing on its own in the hills east of Yamethin south of Mandalay.

Those interested can find the report at Still not available on the company website the last time I checked.

Also of note to Ivanhoe fans is the recent appointment to the Ivanhoe Board of Howard Balloch, a former Canadian ambassador to China and more recently a deputy secretary to the Cabinet in the Privy Council Office in Ottawa. That should help to polish up the image of the company!

From the Ivanhoe Annual Report:

Assisted by higher copper prices, improved ore grades and higher copper production, the joint-venture Monywa Copper Project in Myanmar reported a net profit of US$22.1 million in 2004, compared to a net profit of US$2.1 million in 2003. The mine produced 31,756 tonnes of copper cathode (15,878 tonnes net to Ivanhoe) in 2004, an increase of 14% over 2003 production. The average copper price received in 2004 was US$1.34 a pound, compared to 79 cents US a pound in 2003. Minegate cash costs in 2004 were approximately 42 cents US a pound. Following the debt obligation payment at the end of February, 2005, the balance on the original, US$90 million project debt was reduced to US$7.5 million. Projected copper production for 2005 is estimated at 39,000 tonnes at minegate cash costs of approximately 42 cents US a pound. The current copper price is approximately US$1.55 a pound. The project currently receives a premium of approximately US$125 per tonne of copper (5.7 cents US a pound) for its LME Grade A quality.

The [JV] Company expects to release in Q2'05 a two-step development plan that will combine the expansion of the existing operations at the S&K Mine with the development of the Letpadaung deposit (the "Monywa Copper Project"). This development plan is expected to be implemented over a period of five years resulting in the Monywa Copper Project's overall copper cathode production capacity of 200,000 tonnes per year.

In mid-October 2004,
1. The first step in the plan, which is subject to an expected 2006 upgrade of the mine's power supply to 40 megawatts, is expected to take the mine's annual copper production from [the current] 39,000 tonnes to a projected rate of 50,000 tonnes (110 million pounds). This first step is expected to be put in place in Q1'06.
2. The second step, which is subject to a power supply of between 60 and 80 megawatts being made available, proposes to develop the nearby Letpadaung deposit over a four year period. The proposed development will consist of the construction of three SX/EW modules, each with an annual capacity of 50,000 tonnes of copper cathode per year.

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