Comstock Mining Announces Second Quarter 2012 Results Commences Mining on the Comstock

VIRGINIA CITY, Nev., Aug. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Comstock Mining Inc. (the "Company") (NYSE Amex: LODE) today announced selected unaudited financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2012.

2012 Second Quarter Highlights

  • The Company completed construction of its Lucerne Mine, crushing facility, expanded heap leach pads and Merrill Crowe processing facility, and related infrastructure and commenced mining on the Comstock, becoming Nevada's Newest Gold and Silver Miner!
  • The Company completed substantially all of the definition drilling in the Lucerne Mine Area, providing information to optimize and extend the Lucerne Mine.
  • The Company developed new strategic alliances with two financing partners. The Company arranged a loan commitment up to $5 million with Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation ("Cat Financial") and a $5 million secured agreement with Resource Income Fund ("RIF"), with Auramet Trading LLC ("Auramet") acting as gold agent. 
  • Net loss for Q2 2012 was $9.0 million, as compared to $4.7 million for Q2 2011.  The increase of $4.3 million resulting primarily from a $3.8 million increase in operating expenses.
  • Operating expenses for Q2 2012 were $9.2 million, versus $5.4 million in Q2 2011.  The $3.8 million increase resulted primarily from increases in mine development costs, including required soil sampling, permitting and related costs, drilling activities, labor and expense for granting restricted stock to employees.
  • Net cash used by operating activities in Q2 2012 was $5.7 million, versus $3.3 million in Q2 2011. The $2.4 million increase resulted primarily from higher exploration and mine development costs of $3.1 million and offset somewhat by changes in working capital.
  • Net cash used in investing activities in Q2 2012 was $5.0 million, versus $0 in Q2 2011. The increase resulted from purchases of property, plant and equipment associated with construction of mining infrastructure and equipment.  
  • Total debt at June 30, 2012, was $4.2 million as compared to total debt at year-end 2011 of $1.4 million, primarily relating to a $2.5 million increase in mortgage obligations incurred from the 95-acre purchase of four patented lode claims, known as the Dayton Resource Area.
  • Cash, cash equivalents and investments at June 30, 2012 were $5.3 million, excluding the newly arranged $10 million of financings, compared to $9.2 million at December 31, 2011.

Comstock's Chief Executive Officer, Corrado De Gasperis commented, "In the first six months of the year we strengthened an already strong, production-focused management team, obtained final permits, fortified our balance sheet and commenced production, becoming Nevada's newest gold and silver mining company!"

March to Production

Some of the more critical objectives on the Company's March to Production included hiring experienced processing staff, building the Lucerne Mine, excavating material, expanding the heap leach pad, installing the crusher and expanding the Merrill Crowe processing facility.

We have hired twenty-three of our planned additional thirty mine and processing staff. The remaining seven employees scheduled to start in August 2012 represent Merrill Crowe and metallurgical process staff. 

We have completed and commissioned the crushing facility and commenced hauling ore from the mine to the crushing facility. The crushing facility commenced crushing and stacking material onto the heap leach pads on Friday, August 10, 2012.  The only remaining activities are completing the commissioning of the Merrill Crowe, and once sufficient material is stacked, processing the material with an expectation of pouring gold and silver in September 2012.

The Company anticipates base annual operating expenses, including mining, processing, royalties and mine administration costs of approximately $13 million per annum, with a production schedule that commences processing at a rate of one million tons per annum.  The Company anticipates temporary, higher haulage costs of $1.5 million for the first six months of operations associated with hauling on an alternative route until a new Right of Way permit is issued to us by the Bureau of Land Management. These mining, processing and related costs do not include corporate administration or other general and administrative costs, nor do they include exploration and mine development costs.

Exploration and Development

In January 2012, the Company launched its 2012-2013 drilling program.  The Company anticipates about 300,000 feet of reverse circulation and 13,000 feet of core drilling, at a total cost of approximately $12 million. This drilling is scheduled to last into the fourth quarter of 2013.

Following the initial drilling in Spring Valley, the Company began definition drilling in the Lucerne Mine in March 2012. The definition drilling in the Lucerne Mine is substantially complete and will provide required information to optimize and expand the mine plan and extend its life.  The Lucerne Mine, on patented mining claims west of State Route 342, commenced production last week. 

The 2012-2013 drilling program will then continue with three significant objectives: 1.) infill drilling in the Dayton Resource Area 2.) Step-out and infill drilling in the East-side of the Lucerne Resource Area and 3.) Exploration drilling on high priority targets, including Spring Valley.

The infill drilling in the Dayton Resource Area will provide detailed information needed to create a preliminary mine plan for the proposed Dayton mine, to be developed in parallel with the expanded Lucerne Mine.  With that plan, the Company will complete a feasibility study, a prerequisite before commencing the permitting for the second mine.

The step-out drilling phase in the East-side of the Lucerne Resource Area will test the continuity of mineralization to the north and south, and at greater depths to the east.  The infill-drilling phase will then provide the detailed information needed to develop an expanded mine plan for the Lucerne Mine.  That mine plan will position the Company to complete an economic feasibility study, a prerequisite before any permitting for the expanded mine becomes foreseeable.

The Company expects to update its NI 43-101 technical reporting in the fourth quarter of 2012, including updates on the Lucerne Mine and the broader Lucerne resource.

Corporate

In July 2012, the Company developed new strategic alliances with two financing partners. The Company arranged a loan commitment up to $5 million with Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation ("Cat Financial") and a $5 million secured agreement with RIF, with Auramet acting as gold agent.  Cash, cash equivalents and available-for-sale securities on hand at June 30, 2012, totaled $5.3 million, excluding the $10 million in new financings.

For the six months ended June 30, 2012, we used cash from operating activities of approximately $10.1 million compared to $5.9 million in the same period of 2011. The increased use of operating cash flow of approximately $4.2 million was primarily as a result of increased use of cash for exploration and mine development expenses of $4.4 million, general administrative expenses of $0.4 million and, consulting and professional fees of $0.6 million, partially offset by a $1.4 million increase in cash provided in operating activities from changes in working capital.

Net cash used in investing activities included $7.4 million for the purchase of mineral rights and properties, plant and equipment, including approximately $1.2 million for mining vehicles and equipment, $2.3 million for processing equipment $1.7 million for land and buildings, $0.5 million for mineral properties and $2.5 million for construction in process primarily related to processing and laboratory equipment. Additionally, the Company paid approximately $0.7 million to increase its reclamation bond deposit and received proceeds from the maturity of available-for-sale securities of approximately $1.5 million.

In July 2012, the Company placed a $4.67 million reclamation surety bond, through the Lexon Surety Group with the State of Nevada's Bureau of Mining Regulation Reclamation.  The bond insures for the estimated costs required to safely reclaim the natural environment to the regulatory standards established by the State of Nevada's Division of Environmental Protection with the purposes of ensuring public safety, protecting the waters of the state, and providing for post mining land use.

During July 2012, the Company commenced certain mining operations and anticipates revenues for the first pour of silver and gold in September 2012. The Company believes that it will have sufficient liquidity to fund the operations through the use of current cash resources, financing arrangements, and projected revenues beginning in September 2012.

During the six-month period ended June 30, 2012, preferred shareholders converted 260 shares of Series B convertible preferred stock into 157,575 shares of common stock. Subsequent to June 30, 2012, through August 13, 2012, preferred shareholders converted 501.09 shares of Series A-2 convertible preferred stock into 769,729 shares of common stock.

On January 1, 2012 and July 1, 2012, the Company declared and issued 1,220,003 and 927,984 shares of common stock, respectively, in payment of dividends on the convertible preferred stock.

Comstock's Chief Executive Officer, Corrado De Gasperis commented, "There is a tremendous amount of excitement in the Community when we started hauling ore to the crusher and again, last Friday, when we started crushing and stacking ore.   It was truly an amazing sight to see ore being hauled and processed on the Comstock again.  We understand it was a long time coming and that makes the accomplishment most special for all stakeholders involved.  We are scheduling activities now for the first pour later this summer."

Conference Call

As previously announced, the Company will host a conference call on August 14, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time/2:00 p.m. Eastern Time to report Second Quarter 2012 results and provide a business update.

The live call will include a moderated Q&A, after the prepared remarks. The dial-in telephone numbers for the live audio are as follows:

North American Toll Free: 1-866-544-4625

Canada Local / International: 416-849-2726

The audio will be available following the call, and for 30 days thereafter, at http://www.comstockmining.com/investors/investor-library

About Comstock Mining Inc.

Comstock Mining Inc. is a Nevada-based gold and silver mining company with extensive, contiguous property in the Comstock District.  The Company began acquiring properties in the Comstock District in 2003.  Since then, the Company has consolidated a significant portion of the Comstock District, amassed the single largest known repository of historical and current geological data on the Comstock region, secured permits, built an infrastructure and brought the exploration project into test mining production.  The Company continues acquiring additional properties in the district, expanding its footprint and creating opportunities for exploration and mining.  The goal of its strategic plan is to deliver stockholder value by validating qualified resources (at least measured and indicated) and reserves (probable and proven) of 3,250,000 gold equivalent ounces in 2013, and commencing commercial mining and processing operations with annual production rates of 20,000 gold equivalent ounces.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release and any related calls or discussions may contain forward-looking statements. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, are forward-looking statements.  Forward-looking statements include statements about matters such as: future prices and sales of and demand for our products; future industry market conditions; future changes in our exploration activities, production capacity and operations; future exploration, production, operating and overhead costs; operational and management restructuring activities (including implementation of methodologies and changes in the board of directors); future employment and contributions of personnel; tax and interest rates; capital expenditures and their impact on us; nature, timing and accounting for restructuring charges, gains or losses on debt extinguishment,  derivative liabilities and the impact thereof; productivity, business process, rationalization, restructuring, investment, acquisition, consulting, operational, tax, financial and capital projects and initiatives; contingencies; environmental compliance and changes in the regulatory environment; offerings, sales and other actions regarding debt or equity securities; and future working capital, costs, revenues, business opportunities, debt levels, cash flows, margins, earnings and growth. 

The words "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "project," "plan," "should," "intend," "may," "will," "would," "potential" and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements, but are not the exclusive means of doing so. These statements are based on assumptions and assessments made by our management in light of their experience and their perception of historical and current trends, current conditions, possible future developments and other factors they believe to be appropriate. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees, representations or warranties and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, developments and business decisions to differ materially from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements. Some of those risks and uncertainties include the risk factors set forth in our SEC filings and the following: the current global economic and capital market uncertainties; the speculative nature of gold or mineral exploration, including risks of diminishing quantities or grades of qualified resources and reserves; operational or technical difficulties in connection with exploration or mining activities; contests over our title to properties; potential dilution to our stockholders from our recapitalization and balance sheet restructuring activities; potential inability to continue to comply with government regulations; adoption of or changes in legislation or regulations adversely affecting our businesses; business opportunities that may be presented to or pursued by us; changes in the United States or other monetary or fiscal policies or regulations; interruptions in our production capabilities due to unexpected equipment failures; fluctuation of prices for gold or certain other commodities (such as silver, copper, diesel fuel, and electricity); changes in generally accepted accounting principles; geopolitical events; potential inability to implement our business strategies; potential inability to grow revenues organically; potential inability to attract and retain key personnel; interruptions in delivery of critical supplies and equipment raw materials due to credit or other limitations imposed by vendors; assertion of claims, lawsuits and proceedings against us; potential inability to maintain an effective system of internal controls over financial reporting; potential inability or failure to timely file periodic reports with the SEC; potential inability to list our securities on any securities exchange or market; and work stoppages or other labor difficulties. Occurrence of such events or circumstances could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows or the market price of our securities.  All subsequent written and oral forward-looking statements by or attributable to us or persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by these factors.  We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement.

Neither this press release nor any related calls or discussions constitutes an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities. 

Contact information for Comstock Mining Inc.:

P.O. Box 1118

Virginia City, NV 89440

questions@comstockmining.com 

http://www.comstockmining.com 


Corrado De Gasperis

Kimberly Shipley

President & CEO

Manager of Investor Relations

Tel (775) 847-4755

Tel (775) 847-0545

degasperis@comstockmining.com 

shipley@comstockmining.com

SOURCE Comstock Mining Inc.



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