St Barbara draws down debt just in case

MID-TIER gold producer St Barbara has drawn down A$200 million in debt to boost its resilience during the COVID-19 outbreak.
St Barbara draws down debt just in case St Barbara draws down debt just in case St Barbara draws down debt just in case St Barbara draws down debt just in case St Barbara draws down debt just in case

St Barbara's Gwalia operation outside Leonora in WA is making some of its most important coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic freely available to readers. For more coverage, please see our COVID-19 hub. To subscribe to, click here.

The funds were drawn from an existing syndicated debt facility, which is due for repayment in July 2022.

It boosts St Barbara's cash balance to $312 million, with $315 million drawn on the debt facility.

The company had $79 million cash at the end of December.

The Gwalia operation in Western Australia, Simberi in Papua New Guinea and Atlantic Gold in Nova Scotia continue to produce and ship gold.

Atlantic is a residential operation, while fly-in, fly-out continues in WA with additional health screening.

PNG has suspended all flights, but the company is working with authorities and the team on site to accommodate individual circumstances.

Canaccord Genuity estimated this month that just over half St Barbara's production came from FIFO operations.

St Barbara said there was an increasing risk one or more of the operations could be impacted at some stage, given the changing regulatory measures around the prevention of COVID-19.

Guidance for the 2020 financial year is 370,000-400,000 ounces of gold at all-in sustaining costs of $1330-1420 an ounce, following first-half production of 181,728oz at $1391/oz.

The company said all three operations continued to generate positive net cashflow.

Internal financial modelling has indicated the company could readily withstand a "prolonged hiatus in production across all three operations".

The company has pre‐delivered into its April 2020 Australian dollar gold forward contracts, and has confirmed that it could roll forward the majority of existing forward contracts to later maturity dates, if required.

Argonaut Securities noted last week that of the Australian mid-tier producers, St Barbara was the least-hedged for the current half at only 21%.

June quarter hedging comprises 16,000oz at A$1809-1961/oz and 10,890oz at C$1759/oz.

Overall, the company has 209,389oz hedged in Australian and Canadian dollars between now and the end of 2022.

St Barbara has also suspended exploration outside of its mining leases.

Managing director and CEO Craig Jetson said St Barbara's first priority was the safety, health and wellbeing of its employees and their families, its business partners and communities.

"I want to acknowledge the extraordinary effort demonstrated by our people and our business partners in keeping each other safe whilst maintaining operations to this point," he said.

"We have plans to address potential further impact of the COVID‐19 virus on our staff and our business should more stringent containment policies be enacted by the various governments.

"We are working closely with the mining industry bodies and governments in each of our jurisdictions to conscientiously operate within current COVID‐19 guidelines and be aware at the earliest opportunity of any future developments."

St Barbara shares closed 6.1% lower at A$2.13, after having traded as low as $1.61 two weeks ago.

RBC Capital Markets highlighted the upside for St Barbara last week. At $2.13, the company's share price is factoring in a gold price of US$1196/oz or A$1782/oz.

The current spot gold price is US$1616/oz or A$2600/oz.

RBC has a sector perform rating and $3.25 price target for St Barbara.