Crunch Time for Century Mining

Lamaque Miner – photo by Patrick Sanfaçon. From the related article addressing “A Case of Problems” in Montreal’s La Presse.

When Century Mining, (TSXV: CMM) early last April, announced a final release agreement to eliminate royalties and future payments associated with their Lamaque gold mine with Teck Resources, it looked like the company was moving in the right direction.

On April 28th, 2010, just a few weeks later, Century then reported its mill facility at the Lamaque project located in Val d’Or, Quebec was fully operational and processing 900 tonnes to 1,100 tonnes per day of ore from current production and existing stockpiles. The company stated they were “fully financed and on budget for the ramping up of the company’s Lamaque gold project, and is preparing for its first gold pour within the next week, nearly one month ahead of schedule.”

Investors responded to the company’s decisions and reported progress. Shares of Century moved from $0.41 on the day of the Teck announcement to $0.73 in late April. But the winds of change were beginning to blow through the historical mine shafts of the Lamaque mine where mining had first started in 1937. Just two weeks in, the British Columbia Securities Commission issued a cease trade order against Century Mining for failing to file audited financial statements and MD&A on time which, in hindsight, may have cast a prognostic cloud over the Lamaque project.

As 2010 progressed it was becoming evident that Century was experiencing both production and profitability setbacks. The company was forced to complete a number of private placements as stop gap measures. Today, the company issued a news release that summarized the delays and the need for additional financings.

The losses in mill throughput resulting from a crusher failure in February, 2011 had an adverse impact upon the company’s cash flow and available finances. This severe constraint on finance availability forced management to halt the operations and put all other capital projects on hold. Shares of Century Mining are currently trading at $0.57 down $0.13 on the day.

Clearly, this is crunch time for Century Mining. Operations at the mill are suspended and management is scrambling to, as they say in today’s release “meet obligations associated with debt repayment and continuing working capital payments”.

There is no good time to have the kind of problems Century is having, but early March may be more favorable than any other time. The company’s management is at Toronto’s Prospectors and Developers Association Conference, or PDAC, the largest gathering of mining industry financiers and professionals in Canada. The conference is known for creating opportunities -and financings- in bunches following the show. Investors bullish on Century are betting the company can pull an iron from the fire and get things rolling again in Quebec. Company management believes that existing proven and probable reserves and measured and indicated resources at Lamaque exceed 2.4 million ounces of gold.

Mike Luft

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