This will be my last annual CEO statement as I will leave the company in the foreseeable future. I have been at the helm of the company since august 2009. During this almost eight years period quite a lot has been done and happened. In some areas we have succeeded well but some other issues have not gone as well as we all have hoped.
The company did start a quick transformation from an exploration and development company to a fully-fledged mining company late 2009. We commenced the Pampalo mine construction which was successfully completed roughly a year later according to the budget and schedule. However, quite soon after the production start-up we realized that we had difficulties to achieve the gold grade which was anticipated in the feasibility study stage.
This generated problems with our gold price hedge program which we partially could compensate by rolling forward the hedge program and increasing the processing plant capacity. The capacity increase was also a necessity for that we could commence mining our first satellite deposit, Rämepuro, year 2013.
We successfully moved from the First North to Nasdaq Stockholm main board in 2012 and also received a secondary listing form Helsinki stock exchange in 2013.
During the years we have also tried to streamline our business structure. The first step was the sale of Kuovila limestone asset and the next step was an agreement to sell our ilmenite asset, Kalvinit. Unfortunately the ilmenite market collapsed and we could not finalize the process.
Along these corporate issues we have systemically developed our Pampalo and Karelian Gold Line operations. Since the production start-up Pampalo has gained a reputation of a safe and environmentally responsible mining operation.
Our systematic exploration approach in the Karelian Gold line has resulted to increasing knowledge and understanding of this 40 kilometer long gold critical belt. Unfortunately the real bonanza discovery is still pending but we still have a lot of work to do over the entire area.
During the last few years we have received positive exploration results from the Pampalo underground mine extension – Pampalo Deeps area. These higher grade areas seems to be more complicated and have lower tonnage than anticipated. We have thus decided that the best option currently for the Pampalo operation is to continue with the selective mining strategy introduced early 2016.
During 2017 the Company intends to mine and process approximately 150,000 tonnes of ore with higher grade. The reduced mine tonnage will be processed in campaigns every second week. The Pampalo underground mine will operate continuously during weekdays only.
Early 2016 I wrote that we will see the gold price improve towards the end of 2016. This actually did happen but the “Trump effect” for the gold price was not seen by any experts. The general consensus was that the US election should not have any huge effect on the gold price but in case of the unlikely event that Donald Trump will be elected the gold priced should soar a few hundred dollars per ounce. The reality was contrary - Mr Trump won the election and the gold price “collapsed”.
Recent forecasts indicate a modest price increase towards the end of this year and for the coming years. However - as we have recently seen, the future is hard to predict.
Europe is facing elections during the spring and depending on the outcome of these, the market uncertainty can increase, which should be beneficial for the gold price. Strengthening dollar and a weakening euro would also be beneficial for Endomines by increasing our revenues in euro.
As we have earlier stated, Endomines vision has been participate in the future structural transformation and consolidation of the Nordic mining industry. Endomines is a small gold producer and we have seen how risky and demanding the life of a small gold producer can be.
I personally believe that the way forward for Endomines should be either a merger with or an acquisition of another gold producing company. This issue has been on top of our agenda but so far we have not succeeded.
We have recently seen signs and forecasts of increasing ilmenite concentrate price during the next few years. This should increase interest to our ilmenite asset and possibilities for divesting group non-core assets.
Health and safety
Endomines personnel have shown great commitment to the work and the challenges have only increased that commitment. The last few years have also increased general working knowledge, manifested in the good safety statistics.
The mining and exploration operations of the Company are based on sustainable and responsible principles. We always try to minimize negative effects on the environment. The Company remains committed to a “Zero Harm”-policy, for both the environment and personnel.
Finally, and once again, my sincere thanks go to my colleagues at Endomines as well as our contractors and partners, whose dedication and hard work during the years have made the achievements described above possible.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our Board of Directors and our shareholders for their continuing support and commitment.
Finally, early this year we had a management change at Pampalo operations as Mr. Seppo Tuovinen joined the company and shortly when my successor will be appointed as the new CEO of the company. I wish for both of them good luck and success in their demanding and challenging duties.
In March 2017