VANCOUVER, Mar 16, 2020 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX) -- Entr�e Resources Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200032154/delayed CA:ETG +1.20% (otcqb:ERLFF - the "Company" or "Entr�e") has today filed its annual operational and financial results for the year ended December 31, 2019. All numbers are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.
2019 HIGHLIGHTSOyu Tolgoi Underground DevelopmentThe Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia includes two separate land holdings: the Oyu Tolgoi mining licence, which is held by Entr�e's joint venture partner Oyu Tolgoi LLC ("OTLLC") and the Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi joint venture property (the "Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JV Property"), which is a partnership between Entr�e and OTLLC. On November 12, 2019 and January 16, 2020, OTLLC's 66% shareholder Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. ("Turquoise Hill") provided an update on underground development on the Oyu Tolgoi mining licence:
-- Construction of Shaft 2 was completed in October 2019 allowing for the movement of 300 people per cage cycle versus a maximum of 60 people per cage cycle through Shaft 1. Underground development material is also being lifted to surface via the Shaft 2 production hoist. -- Productivity improvements resulted in increased underground lateral development rates during the fourth quarter of 2019, with an average rate of 1,607 equivalent meters ("eqm") compared to 1,214 eqm in the third quarter of 2019, with December seeing a record 1,809 eqm. -- Construction is progressing on Shafts 3 and 4 with both collars now installed. Final preparations are now underway to enable commencement of main sinking operations for both shafts during the second quarter of 2020. -- As previously announced by Turquoise Hill on July 15, 2019, improved information with respect to rock mass and geotechnical data modelling has confirmed that there are stability risks associated with components of the mine design in the 2016 Oyu Tolgoi Feasibility Study. Preliminary estimates indicate that sustainable first production from the Oyu Tolgoi mining licence could be delayed by 16 to 30 months compared to Turquoise Hill's original feasibility study guidance in 2016, and the development capital spend for the Oyu Tolgoi underground project may increase by $1.2 billion to $1.9 billion over the $5.3 billion previously disclosed by Turquoise Hill. To address these risks, a number of refinements are under review to determine the final mine design. -- The first of the key decisions that has been made is to retain a mid-access drive only on the apex level of the mine design of Panel 0. This is an integral step towards completing the final mine design, however it is too early to accurately determine the potential impact on the cost or schedule. Decisions on productivity levels and key underground infrastructure such as the location and design of the ore passes and options for panel sequencing, will need to be completed before an update on the development capital or schedule can be provided. -- Turquoise Hill anticipates detailed analysis work on the mine design to be completed during the first half of 2020, and a definitive estimate (the "Definitive Estimate"), which will include the estimate of cost and schedule for the underground project based on the updated design of Panel 0, is expected to be delivered in the second half of 2020.
Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JV PropertyOnce OTLLC, Turquoise Hill and project operator Rio Tinto International Holdings Ltd. ("Rio Tinto") have determined the preferred mine design approach and delivered the Definitive Estimate, Entr�e will be able to assess the potential impact on mineral resources and reserves estimates and underground development cost and schedule for the Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JV Property. Entr�e will continue to evaluate any information made available to it by Rio Tinto or OTLLC and will update the market accordingly.
-- During Q1 2019, the Company disposed of its share investment in Anglo Pacific Group PLC ("Anglo Pacific") for net proceeds of $1.0 million and realized a $0.1 million gain. -- On October 1, 2019, the Company's common shares commenced trading on the Over-the-Counter OTCQB Venture Market ("OTCQB") under the trading symbol "ERLFF" and discontinued trading on the NYSE American LLC. -- For the full 2019 year, the operating loss was $2.1 million compared to an operating loss of $1.8 million in 2018. -- For the full 2019 year, operating cash outflow before working capital was $1.5 million. Operating cash outflow for 2019 was higher than 2018 mostly due to no receipts in 2019 associated with the Administrative Services Agreement with Mason Resources Corp. ("Mason Resources") which was terminated at the end of 2018. Entr�e also incurred a modest amount of one-time external advisor costs relating to the Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi joint venture (the "Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JV"). -- As at December 31, 2019, cash was $5.4 million and the working capital balance was $5.5 million.
OUTLOOK AND STRATEGYThe Company's primary objective for the 2020 year is to work with other Oyu Tolgoi stakeholders to advance potential amendments to the joint venture agreement (the "Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JVA") that currently governs the relationship between Entr�e and OTLLC and upon finalization, transfer the Shivee Tolgoi and Javhlant mining licences to OTLLC as manager of the Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JV. The form of Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JVA was agreed between the parties in 2004, prior to the execution of the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement and commencement of underground development. The Company currently is registered in Mongolia as the 100% ultimate holder of the Shivee Tolgoi and Javhlant mining licences.
The Company believes that amendments that align the interests of all stakeholders as they are now understood would be in the best interests of all stakeholders, provided there is no net erosion of value to Entr�e. No agreements have been finalized and there are no assurances agreements may be finalized in the future.
The Company's expected 2020 full year expenditures, which include Mongolian site management and compliance costs, are between $1.5 million and $1.65 million.
SUMMARY OF OPERATING RESULTSOperating LossFor the full 2019 year, the operating loss was $2.1 million compared to an operating loss of $1.8 million in 2018. Exploration costs in 2019 included expenditures of $0.2 million for administration costs in Mongolia compared to $0.1 million in the comparative 2018 period. Holding costs on all other properties in 2019 and 2018 were insignificant.
Overall, general and administration expenditures in 2019 were 30% higher compared to the same period in 2018 primarily due to no receipt of cost-recovery reimbursements from Mason Resources which were received in 2018. Beginning in the first quarter 2019, the Company no longer received these reimbursements. The Company also incurred a modest increase in travel and external advisor costs related to active discussions with other Oyu Tolgoi stakeholders aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JV. For further information on the Administrative Services Agreement with Mason Resources, reference should be made to the Company's annual audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2018 and the related MD&A.
Depreciation expenses in 2019 were higher compared to the comparative period in 2018 due to the adoption of new IFRS accounting standard relating to leases effective January 1, 2019.
Non-operating ItemsThe gain on sale of investments of $0.1 million in 2019 is related to the disposal of common shares of Anglo Pacific for net proceeds of $1.0 million.
The foreign exchange gain in 2019 was primarily the result of movements between the C$ and U.S. dollar as the Company holds its cash in both currencies and the loan payable is denominated in U.S. dollars.
Interest expense was primarily related to the loan payable to OTLLC pursuant to the Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JVA and is subject to a variable interest rate.
The amount recognized as a loss from equity investee is related to exploration costs on the Entr�e/Oyu Tolgoi JV Property.
The total assets as at December 31, 2019 were comparable to the balance at December 31, 2018 while total non-current liabilities were higher due to recording the non-cash deferred revenue finance costs for the 2019 year.
The Company's Annual Financial Statements and Management's Discussion and Analysis ("MD&A"), and Annual Information Form are available on the Company's website at www.EntreeResourcesLtd.com and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com . The Company's Annual Report on Form 20-F ("Annual Report") has been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), and is available on the Company's website at www.EntreeResoucesLtd.com and on EDGAR at www.sec.gov . Shareholders can receive a hard copy of the Company's audited Annual Financial Statements upon request.