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McEwen Mining Inc  (NYSE:MUX)
Q1 2019 Earnings Call
May. 01, 2019, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning, and welcome to the McEwen Mining Q1 2019 Financial Results Conference Call. I will now pass the call over to Mr. Rob McEwen, Chief Owner.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Thank you, operator. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. With me today are Chris Stewart, our President, Chief Operating Officer; Andrew Elinesky, our Chief Financial Officer. And I'm going to jump right in, and I welcome you, and I'm going to jump right over to Andrew to talk about our financials.

Andrew Elinesky -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Rob. Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. In the first quarter, McEwen Mining continued with significant investments and exploration, development at Black Fox, completing the construction at Gold Bar, as well as continuing work on the Los Azules and the Fenix projects. The combination of lower-than-expected production in sales, in addition to these project investments resulted in the Company reporting a net loss of $10.1 million or $0.03 per share.

Our cash consumption by the operations for the quarter increased by $17 million compared to the same quarter of last year. However, we issued equity in the quarter of just over $22 million, with more than offset this spend, and our liquid assets increased by $2.5 million in the quarter. We ended -- at the end of March 31, with $26 million in cash, and a total of $40 million in liquid assets, which should take us safely to the end of the year, and beyond.

Regarding our overall operating results, the Company had consolidated production of just over 36,000 gold equivalent ounces. With these levels being lower than planned, our cost per ounce were also higher than we forecasted. Our earnings for mining operations decreased by just over $11 million or $0.03 per share compared to the same period in 2018. This was primarily the result of one significant drop-off in operating profit at our El Gallo mine, as the miners transitioned from mining to residual leaching. And two, the Black Fox mine had a decrease in profitability due to the production delays of the first -- for the first two months of the year. Please note, that we did not report any non-GAAP measures such as earnings from mining operations or cost per ounce for Gold Bar this quarter. We will start to report them once we have declared commercial production.

Moving onto the outlook for the rest of 2019. Black Fox production should be in line with the 50,000 ounces produced in 2018, and we still plan on seeing a 5% reduction in the all-in sustaining cost per ounce when compared to last year. At San Jose, production levels should increase slightly when compared to 2018, which is allowing the guidance for a per ounce cost to remain the same as that year, despite the significant increase in export costs in addition to the inflationary outlook for Argentina.

At this point, I'll thank you again for taking the time to join us today. And I'll turn the presentation over to Chris.

Chris Stewart -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Thank You, Andrew. Good morning, everyone. I would now like to discuss our operations. At Gold Bar, construction of our newest gold mine is approaching completion and commissioning, activities are under way. During the first quarter, unfavorable weather and a lack of manpower slowed our progress. We plan to achieve commercial production in Q2. As previously announced, we have successfully implemented solutions to the operational challenges which slowed our progress in the first quarter. We are now fully staffed, and we have recruited a new General Manager to lead our operations into full production. I'm pleased to announce that Jack Henris, will join our Nevada operations next week. Jack has worked as General Manager at Newmont's Cripple Creek, and Carlin Mines and has an extensive experience in the Nevada area from a combined 21 years with Newmont and Barrick. The first gold ingot was poured at Gold Bar on February 16, 2019, and we continue to pour gold regularly as we ramp up production toward commercial production. We are pleased with the recovery rates we are seeing from the ore stacked on the heap leach pad, they are in line with our feasibility study curves. As a result of moving commercial production at Gold Bar into the second quarter, we have revised our production guidance for Nevada from 55,000 to 50,000 gold equivalent ounces which impacts our global production guidance for the year by only 2.4%.

Exploration work will commence in May on the Gold Bar property. In Canada, at the Black Fox mine, our team recorded strong production of 5,300 gold ounces over the last three weeks of the quarter, producing 8,900 gold equivalent ounces in Q1 which represents 93% of our budgeted production for the quarter. This Q1 production was achieved despite the operational challenges that essentially stopped our gold production from mid-January, February and into the first week of March, so approximately eight weeks in total. The fire damaged crushing plant has been completely repaired and is operating normally. Production is back on track and we fulfilled our budget announcements for the month of April. We maintain our guidance of 50,000 gold equivalent ounces at Black Fox for 2019.

Black Fox had a cash cost of $805 and all-in sustaining cost of $1,454 per gold equivalent ounce during the quarter. The all-in sustaining cost increased due to fixed costs being spread over a decreased number of ounces sold and an increase in sustaining exploration and development costs during the quarter. As we are increasing production and reducing sustaining exploration development costs in the second half of 2019. The all-in sustaining cost of Black Fox will decrease in the following quarters and balance out through our guidance number of $1,080. During Q1, 2019, exploration work continue to underground at the Black Fox mine. The first phase of the exploration drift on the 810 meter level of the mine is now complete and we'll provide a drilling platform that gives us a better angle to target the Black Fox deposit at depth below the existing mine development.

We had four drill rigs turning underground and we plan to maintain that level during the year, drilling focused on confirming and expanding known mineralized trends located close to existing mine workings in three different areas of the mine. We're working on developing multiple mining fronts in the underground operations as this will provide more consistent ore production in the second half of the year. As of April, we now have an additional seven drill rigs turning onto surface at various locations on the Black Fox Property and we're at the Stock Property next to our mill facility.

At the San Jose mine in Argentina, production is on track to achieve the guidance for 2019. According to our 49% interest in the mine, our attributable production in Q1 was 10,500 golden ounces and 700,000 silver ounces for a total of 19,900 gold equivalent ounces at cash cost of $749 and an all-in sustaining cost of $1,115. For the El Gallo Complex in Mexico, we are pleased to say that production from our operation has delivered as planned for the first quarter in the feasibility study for Fenix project remains on track to be completed mid-year.

Residual leaching activities from El Gallo Gold continued after the final ore was mined and stacked on the heap leach pad back in mid-2018. Our operating team achieved a quarterly production of 5,400 gold equivalent ounces comparable with our production from the previous quarter, and in line with our 2019 guidance of 13,000 gold equivalent ounces from Mexico.

Total cash costs were $967 and all-in sustaining cost, $989. Closure, reclamation and residual heap leaching are ongoing, and will continue for several years. During Q1, ore continued to progress on the feasibility study, and we expect that feasibility study to be completed by the end of the second quarter. We also progressed the permitting work for a Phase I of project Fenix, which is for the reprocessing of El Gallo Gold heap leach material. Our formal application is submitted, with approval expected in Q3.

On Los Azules, during 2018, we defined the Northern Access route, a new low altitude all-year access for our copper project in the Argentinean Andes. During Q1, we completed an on the ground expedition to gather data which will now allow us to complete a more detailed plan and cost estimate for establishing this year-round access route. During Q1 2019, we continued environmental baseline monitoring together with our other work for the Environmental Impact Assessment submission. We are targeting the submission of the EIA within the next 12 months, and expect the Environmental Impact Declaration to receive during 2020. The main objective of this work and investment at Los Azules is to further derisk and improve the value of the project, while we look for strategic partners to further advance this world-class copper deposit.

In conclusion, Q1 was a challenging quarter for both our Gold Bar and Black Fox operations. We will come through with a solid focus on recovering the production output at Black Fox, and achieving commercial production at Gold Bar in Q2. We look forward to presenting you with positive updates from our projects, and operations in the coming months, and over the rest of 2019.

I will now turn it back over to Rob.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Thank you, very much, Chris. Good morning, again. I'd like to start by saying, I'm really happy that Q1 is behind us. It was a challenging quarter with a number of events that notch the confidence in our operations. And as you heard from Chris and Andrew, Black Fox is back on track. Looking at the production in January and February, it amounted to 19,000 ounces over those two months from Black Fox on a consolidated basis for the Company. And in the month of March we did 17,000 ounces, in the month of April, 16,500 ounces. So we're getting back to where we thought we'd be. We're looking at a year-end production number of 205,000 ounces for the corporation being 16% higher than the year before. And that was building on a year of 16% growth. So production is going up. At Black Fox, we see costs going down. We have a healthy treasury that will take us well into next year and beyond. And a really exciting exploration program this year and we're going to start seeing a large flow of news coming out of it starting later this month. We've been investing in the future and I'm sorry to have shaken your confidence with the first two months but we hope to regain it in the balance of the year.

And at this point, I'd like to open it up for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from Heiko Ihle of H.C. Wainwright. Your line is open.

Heiko Ihle -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Hey guys, thanks for taking my questions.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Good morning, Heiko.

Heiko Ihle -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Hey, Rob. In the Feb 21st press release you guys were talking about the potential sale of the Mexican assets. I just wanted to see if there is any progress, anything that you can report, how was buyer interest been given, I mean, there is not that many good projects on the market to the best of my understanding. And do you want to just provide some color on where this stands or is this still a plan? And maybe, I mean, I don't think you're going to be willing to do this but maybe even some of the prices that have been thrown your way?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

We have had a number of companies that have looked at or signed confidentiality agreements. Some have come in and looked at it. We have received no offers as of this date.

Heiko Ihle -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Okay. That's a very direct answer, and I appreciate it.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

You're welcome.

Heiko Ihle -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

As for -- and do you see A's are still active or are have they moved on to something else?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

I don't know, until we hear otherwise from them.

Heiko Ihle -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Fair enough. And then on Gold Bar -- and this is just a clarification on my end. The 2,030 ounces of pre-production that you got during Q1, I assume there's going to be some more pre-production ounces during Q2 as well. Are these figures reflected in the 50,000 ounce guidance for 2019?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Yes.

Heiko Ihle -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Okay. Okay, perfect. And then -- and I assumed the answer to that as yes as well. Are they also included in the cash cost guidance for the year? I mean, if you extrapolate that, presumably 2020 cash costs should be somewhat lower than 2019?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Yes, and yes.

Heiko Ihle -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Okay, very good. Thank you so much.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Thank you, Heiko.

Operator

Our next question comes from Jake Sekelsky of ROTH Capital Markets. Your line is open.

Jake Sekelsky -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Thanks for taking my questions.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Good morning, Jake.

Jake Sekelsky -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

You've obviously outlined a fairly robust exploration program. Can you maybe just walk us through some of the initial targets, particularly at Black Fox or maybe put more simply, what's the primary goal of the first leg of the 2019 program?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

I'll ask Sylvain Guerard who is our Senior VP of Exploration to speak to his project.

Sylvain Guerard -- Senior Vice President of Exploration

Yes. Good morning. Yes, we started in April, our surface exploration in Timmins, and quickly we ramped up, and we have now seven rigs turning at both Black Fox and the Stock properties there. As you know, last year, we had a very good year. We added reserve resources, basically at all of our projects, and we generated a lot of new drill intersections. Those are our potential discovery, but that's very early stage. So one of the priority right now is to follow-up on those new results. And there's multiple targets that we are currently testing. One of the focus at Black Fox is over the Southeast property area, the Grey Fox sector. We have three deposits there. There's a total of 465,000 ounces at 6.6 gram per tonne indicated resources.

And surrounding this sector, there's a multiple targets within the 1 kilometer radius around this place. Last year, we had a very interesting intersection. I'll give you an example, at Gibson, within the intrusive, we intersected 34-meter over 3 gram per tonne including 11 grams over 6-meter. So this is a new style of mineralization potential bulk style that we are following up right now. There is a structure just to the East at one of the Zone, Zone 147 there, where we have 264,000 ounces at 7.5 gram, that we are also drilling, it's a shallow high-grade vein structure. So, this is also something that could add to the economic of the Grey Fox deposit. And we also have the exploration going out at Stock. Stock, as you know, we drilled first program last year. In nine months, we came with the first resource, a very first initial resource at Stock East, 250,000 ounces. And we drilled over a 2 kilometer strike length along the Destor-Porcupine, that of the old former Stock Mine. The Stock Mine was mined down to 330 meter which is extremely shallow for Archaean gold deposit. So we are following up on the mine itself as well as now over a 3 kilometer strike length that was the mine there that include also Stock East new discovery and resource.

So the objective is to grow the resource and find new Argor-Heraeus along this very prospective trend that remained underexplored. And at Black Fox, we're also drilling underground, starting to have -- Chris talked about that, expanding the mineralization to the West more particularly. And finally I just want to -- you should not forget the Nevada. We have a great project at Gold Bar. We made a lot of work last year and we were successful to increase reserves. We had the year of mine life there. We also had resources to surround our pit. And we developed a very solid exploration model. We added new surveys, we added new geologists, including former geologists working with Barrick to the north. And together, they came with a strong model and defined multiple new targets around the Gold Bar.

We see Gold Bar as a high quality Carlin gold system in the quarter's trend and probably the most underexplored gold system along this trend. So we have multiple targets, some are shallow oxide that we are targeting and we are going to go a bit deeper outside of our pits and oxide area also to try to define potential for large deposits like you see to the north there with Barrick. And this program at Gold Bar is starting later this month and will continue over the rest of the year. And we also included as part of this program two deep holes to go and test the lower part of the stratigraphy. The Roberts Mountain stratigraphy where we believe we can discover large high-grade sulfide deposits like again, big deposits you see in Nevada.

Jake Sekelsky -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Got it. Okay. Thanks for that. That's very helpful. And just switching over to Los Azules, it sounds like progress is being made on the access route. I'm just trying to get a handle on when we'll see some definitive news there, and obviously the potential impacts on project economics and permitting?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Jake, on the road, we're doing engineering work right now, trying to get estimates on cost. And that we should have by the time of our annual meeting, which will be on 23rd of this month. And we'll be sharing it with our shareholders.

Jake Sekelsky -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Okay. That's much sooner than I had thought. All right. That's all for me. Thanks guys.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Thanks, Jake.

Operator

Our next question comes from Bhakti Pavani of Alliance Global Partners. Your line is open.

Bhakti Pavani -- Alliance Global Partners -- Analyst

Good morning, guys. Thanks for taking my questions.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Good morning, Bhakti.

Bhakti Pavani -- Alliance Global Partners -- Analyst

Just a quick one on Black Fox. Despite the challenges, I did notice that the grade was significantly higher than what you have -- what do you guys have reported in the previous quarter. So just kind of from the modeling perspective, is that the sort of range of grade we should be modeling going forward?

Chris Stewart -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Yes. Good morning. We're -- I'd say, we reported around, I think it was around 6.6 to plan of 5.5 roughly, during the quarter. So we did see a bit of improvement there. We have implemented a number of things at the mine, essentially to try and manage our ore handling, a lot better, so you reduce the loss. So when you look at the overall reserves or reserve graded around 7.7, 7.8. So I would say, going forward, we should be in the -- our challenge will be to keep it in that sort of 6 to 6.5 range, but I don't think it's out of the question given some of the changes that we made within the operations on a go-forward basis.

Bhakti Pavani -- Alliance Global Partners -- Analyst

And I guess the production guidance that you have provided for Black Fox is considering this level of grade or does it assume the 6, 6.5 grade?

Chris Stewart -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Of the work that we've done, we're in the process of actually sort of reviewing all the information on site, and building a bit more of a database around the grades we're getting at some of the stopes. So we're trying to again manage that whole process better. But currently, the 50,000 ounces assumes, the grades that's historically we've seen coming out of these stopes. So there's some potential to see a bit of a bump in the grade during the year, but we need to get a bit more experience under our belt before we can sort of confirm that.

Bhakti Pavani -- Alliance Global Partners -- Analyst

Got it. Thank you. Moving to Gold Bar, I know you mentioned that the issues with the crushing plant have all been resolved. Just kind of wondering what are the key factors that you need to, I guess, check mark before you'd announce commercial production at Gold Bar?

Chris Stewart -- President and Chief Operating Officer

What the -- sort of the requirement we've imposed on ourselves to achieve commercial production is obtaining 75% over 30 days. And we're in the process of working on that now. So our target is 7,200 tonnes per day, so we're looking for a 5,400 tonne per day average stacked onto the heap leach pad and a 30-day period.

Bhakti Pavani -- Alliance Global Partners -- Analyst

And how is the process coming along and how is it betting in comparison with your expectation at this point with regards to the crushing plant and the other process.

Chris Stewart -- President and Chief Operating Officer

We've resolve a number of issues related to processing the grade through the crusher and through the screening plant and we've got those issues behind us. We're now sort of working on typical commissioning issues with some communication issues between grasshoppers and the little things that stop you for half hour here and half hour there. So we're getting the most out of the system now. But we're pleased with our progress especially over the last week. We've really seen the tonnage coming up on the system simply resolve the issues around the screening plant crushers. So I'm pleased with what we're seeing there now and we're confident we can obtain commercial production here in Q2.

Bhakti Pavani -- Alliance Global Partners -- Analyst

Okay, perfect. That's it from my side. Thank you.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Bhakti, just one comment on production at Black Fox. In the first two months of the year January and February, we didn't really have any production coming out of Black Fox. And so reflecting in our corporate numbers we only had 19,000 ounces. But right now between March and April we went -- we produced 76% more in the third and fourth month than we produced in the first two months. So at Black Fox, January and February just to break it down just to the operation was 34 -- little over 3,400 ounces, in March we did 5,500, and in April we did almost 4,500 . So there is significant change and improvement in production as those problems were resolved.

Chris Stewart -- President and Chief Operating Officer

And our current budget this year where as well is based on head grade to 5.75 grams per tonne.

Bhakti Pavani -- Alliance Global Partners -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

You're welcome. Operator, next question?

Operator

Our next question comes from John Tumazos of John Tumazos Independent Research. Your line is open.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Good morning, John.

John Tumazos -- John Tumazos Very Independent Research -- Analyst

In a way, Chris and Andrew, you're teasing us a little bit telling us that the total company did 17,000 ounces March single month, 16,500 ounces, April single month or 200,000 annualized. Could you break it down by mine? I know you were just on the last question starting to, I'm guessing that San Jose does about 4,000 a month, and the residual leach in Mexico about 1,500 a month. So that there is about 10,000 broken down per month between Black Fox and Gold Bar starting up, where some of the Black Fox surge is catching up on that stockpiled ore in January and February that wasn't crushed. And some of the Black Fox surge is a little better grade. And in March, there wasn't anything from Gold Bar, but in April there was. So if you could break down April by mine, that would help us understand. I guess we should be happy things are great. I'd just like to know better, why they're great and how they're great?

Andrew Elinesky -- Chief Financial Officer

That's a good point, John. It's Andrew. As you said, San Jose, obviously is a significant contributor being guidance of over 90,000 ounces of gold equivalent for the year. So in April, we had San Jose for at 8,600 ounces of gold equivalent, Gold Bar at 1,790 ounces, El Gallo at 1,800 ounces, and Black Fox, as Rob just mentioned, just under 4,500 ounces.

John Tumazos -- John Tumazos Very Independent Research -- Analyst

Could you give us that for March?

Andrew Elinesky -- Chief Financial Officer

Sure. So Black Fox was 5,500, Mexico was 1,200, Gold Bar was 1,400, and San Jose was 9,000.

John Tumazos -- John Tumazos Very Independent Research -- Analyst

Thank you very much.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Thank you, John. Next question...

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our next question comes from Bill Powers (ph). Your line is open.

Bill Powers -- -- Analyst

Yes. Good morning. Thank you for taking my question.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Good morning, Bill.

Bill Powers -- -- Analyst

Good morning. As far as to my understanding is you kind of a reduction of about 70 personnel in Black Fox. And to me that estimates to about 50,000 per annum run rate of about $100 per ounce, as far as cost reduction. Is this accurate and or is there -- or is this -- am I missing something and I guess, is this trend would indicate that you have further to go as far as cost reductions at Black Fox?

Chris Stewart -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Hi, Bill. Chris Stewart here. Yes, the numbers for a reduction in the workforce is closer to -- we were at 260, we're down to 209, so we have 50 people been removed from the business, which translates into $6 million thereabout coming out of the cost, so that's something that will be on an annualized basis. So that's now reflected in our updated budget. And we continued to analyze everything at site leaving those stone unturned, essentially to try and continue to reduce our costs. We're bringing some contracted staff in-house this year as well.

So we're going to see a cost savings around that. And that's in line with our objective to again try and control our gold in the ore much better by reducing the amount of handling and where we're crushing the ore. Currently we crush the ore on surface of the mine and then ship it over to the mill, and our plan by mid-year, well actually within the next -- by the end of this mid-May, we'll actually be falling run a mine or from the mine over -- sorry, by mid-year we'll be moving ore over to the mill, and crushing it over there. So we're going to refurbish our own crushing plant that we have at the Stock mill rather than crushing at the mine site, and we think that'll help improve our gold grades that we're seeing. So reducing the loss at the end of the day. But we are absolutely looking for cost reduction opportunities at Black Fox, as we continue to push ahead there.

Bill Powers -- -- Analyst

Okay. And thank you for that. My second question would be, as far as the tailings in Nevada, I guess where do those stand as far as -- are those incorporated into the mine plan as of now or those going to be, I guess looked at in the future as far as incorporating that at this point?

Chris Stewart -- President and Chief Operating Officer

On Nevada, I guess, I don't quite understand your question on Nevada, is it heap leach?

Bill Powers -- -- Analyst

My understanding was there were historic tailings there that were, I guess either under review for potential upgrade or a potential future material or maybe I'm -- have my minds mixed up?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Bill, it's Rob. We don't have tailings in Nevada, but we do have material that was considered non-economic that was mined by the previous operator in the 80s, and they were -- there is a number of dumps on the property places where they've been placed and some of them are running the -- they were mining 2 gram material back in the 80s and our feasibility is based on 1 gram. So there is ore that we're going to be recovering from these various areas of what was considered uneconomic 30 years ago.

Bill Powers -- -- Analyst

And these were already incorporated into your plan?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Yes.

Bill Powers -- -- Analyst

I wasn't -- thank you for clearing then if I wasn't -- somewhat confused about that, but thanks.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

No problem. Next question please.

Operator

We have a question from the Web. It appears that the 2019 guidance for cash cost and all sustaining costs at Gold Bar are $930 and $975 respectively. This is higher than the 2018 feasibility study. Can you explain the difference in cost.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Andrew, would you carry this?

Andrew Elinesky -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes, thank you for the question, John. I'm afraid you're not necessarily comparing apples-to-apples. The $770 and $843 costs from the feasibility study were for the life of mine. And -- so -- and the costs obviously for this year relate only to 2019. And what you have is a ramp up in a partial year production which means our per ounce costs for the first partial year of being 2019 are going to be higher as well as we're seeing an increase in our ramp up costs and part of the delays that we've encountered. So -- and it's our first year obviously of production. So we have come out with $930, $975. And obviously as we get to commercial production, we expect those to come down. And as we switch our focus from commissioning to becoming more efficient and focusing on how we can save money there.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Next question please.

Operator

Our next question is from the Web says, has the Company developed an all-in sustaining cost per ounce for the 2018 Companywide silver production?

Andrew Elinesky -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you for the question. No, we normally don't disclose a silver all-in sustaining cost. Silver accounts for less than a quarter of our production. However on a 75:1 ratio, silver to gold ratio 2018 costs on a silver equivalent basis would have been $13.50. If you use the average for the year which was closer to 85:1, our silver equivalent cost, our all-in sustaining cost would be $12.44 for silver equivalent ounce.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Next question, operator.

Operator

Our next question comes from Russ Wagner of Wagner Investment. Your line is open.

Russ Wagner -- Wagner Investment -- Analyst

Yes. Bob, I have kind of a tested question. Do you, I think reviewing some data, I think the Company and/or you took an interest in Great Bear, we still had an exploration company in Canada, you're still active in that area, can you enlighten us why is it a company position or is it a -- your personal holding?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

It's -- Russ, it's both. There is an investment -- the firm made in an investment, I made in the company. It's located in Northwestern Ontario. It's in an area called Red Lake where I have Gold Corps Foundation asset is located. And they had some very interesting grades when we bought it. The grades were interesting, the market cap was low and it looked like they were -- it was a chance to have a new gold rush in the Red Lake District. And we use our investments to build our treasury.

Russ Wagner -- Wagner Investment -- Analyst

Yes, thank you. I mean, I just -- the reason I also asked because you're very familiar with that area, right, because of your originally I think activity when you built Gold Corps. So, we love it. Thank you. Thanks for answering the question.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

You're very welcome. Next question please.

Operator

Our next question comes on the Web. Given the need for capital to develop the current portfolio of projects, but it makes sense to sell off some of the investments to investors, Golden Predator, Great Bear Resources and others?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

That's the intent, is that over time we would liquidate those positions and use the funds to develop the properties where it's needed. Next question?

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our next Web question. What are your thoughts and considering a merger or joint venture dealing with other mining companies while your exploration is targeting the development of new deposits. Isn't it more profitable to focus on exploration at the existing mine site? How do you see the evolution of McEwen Mining's production at various sites at the end of the year and for 2020?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Okay, you have four questions. First, thoughts of merger or joint venture. We're always -- our door's always open for discussions. And at the right price, any joint venture or merger is worth considering. We have plans to grow the Company, qualify for the S&P over time. So -- and right now is an interesting time to be looking for certainly acquisitions, property acquisitions. In terms of measures to reduce production costs, Chris highlighted some areas at Black Fox that we're doing it, earlier in the question period. And the debt, it has a three-year term. And I'm never a big fan of that. So I'd like to get that off the books, as quickly as we can. The third question was asked about, we're targeting new deposits, the ones that Sylvain spoke about in one of the questions. We have quite a few targets on our own properties, and we're certainly putting $27 million into exploration this year, $17 million in Timmins, $5 million in Nevada, $5 million in Argentina.

So I like those areas. We're on all our mine sites, and we think we have excellent potential on there. And how do we see production at the various sites by the end of the year? Well, our total production -- our forecasted production is 205,000 ounces, that's a 16% increase from the year before, building on a 16% year before it. We're hoping that we can -- we will see increased production, just coming, Gold Bar, should be producing more next year, according to its mine plan, and what it accounts for. And we're looking at bringing in, putting plans in place that could bring in other satellite deposits that exist on our mine properties right now. Next question?

Operator

Our next question comes from Ronnie Simpson (ph). Your line is open.

Ronnie Simpson -- -- Analyst

Yes, this question is for Rob. Rob, I've followed McEwen Mining for several years, and I've had confidence in you. But looking at the share price, I'm concerned about the share price, we're down to a $1.38 now. And we're getting close to a $1. But I keep hearing conversations about how we're going to be -- your goal is to join the S&P 500. I'm concerned, the moves in the share price up first before we start having, I mean those kind of conversations across. The share price has deteriorated a lot in the last two years, and I'd like you to address that?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Happy to, Ronnie. Thank you for the question. I'm not happy with the share price either. And like yourself, I have a few shares in the Company, about 78 million shares. We wouldn't at this point trying to do some M&A with our share price here. It doesn't make a lot of sense if we don't have an extremely good price on that acquisition. Our goal is to grow but to grow without losing value in the Company. We had a particularly hard first quarter. And as I said at the beginning of the call, I'm glad it's behind us. Production is picking up at Black Fox and Gold Bar is coming on stream this quarter. We should see our numbers by the end of the year, as I said earlier, 2,500 ounces. And we think there's good room to build on our exploration success. I'm sorry you've had -- you and every other shareholders had to endure the price decline. But I think the direction is up from here not down. Hope that answers your question?

Ronnie Simpson -- -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you for your answer.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

You're welcome.

Operator

(Operator Instructions). Our next Web question. What measures are you taking to reduce the debt from McEwen Mining?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

We currently -- our debt has a three-year term. Well, it matures in August of 2021. So we'll look to retire there. If we were happen -- if we happen to sell one of our assets, we'd apply a portion of those funds to the retirement of the debt or eliminate it totally. Next question?

Operator

Our next question comes from the Web. Has there been any progress in the potential sale or joint venture of the Los Azules copper project in Argentina?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

We've already answered that question earlier.

Operator

Okay. Our next question is a three part question. First part, can you provide some background on the plan to build the Northern route road and infrastructure in the Los Azules? The cost to build the project? How long it will take to complete once all government approvals are in, and who will maintain it?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Excellent questions. We don't have many answers to those. Right now, we have done aerial surveillance, created topographical charts. We've gone in on foot, and currently engineering drawings and cost estimates are being put together. And by our Annual Meeting, we should have more details on what the costs would be to build the road. The other matters about all government permits, and the costs to maintain it, that's still too premature to comment on those.

Operator

Our next questions is from the Web. Who will own what, once it is complete? Does McEwen Mining have a majority say in its future evolution?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Of what, operator?

Operator

We'll go to the next question. Are there any restrictions on its use? Do you foresee developments along the route and other public and private use of the infrastructure?

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

The roads would be a private road going to the mines. At this point, there would be no other uses for that road.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) I'm not showing any further questions. Please proceed with any remarks.

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Thank you very much, operator. It only gets better. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, operator.

Operator

You're welcome. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for participating in today's conference. This does conclude the program, and you may all disconnect. Everyone have a great day.

Duration: 45 minutes

Call participants:

Robert McEwen -- Executive Chairman and Chief Owner

Andrew Elinesky -- Chief Financial Officer

Chris Stewart -- President and Chief Operating Officer

Heiko Ihle -- H.C. Wainwright -- Analyst

Jake Sekelsky -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Sylvain Guerard -- Senior Vice President of Exploration

Bhakti Pavani -- Alliance Global Partners -- Analyst

John Tumazos -- John Tumazos Very Independent Research -- Analyst

Bill Powers -- -- Analyst

Russ Wagner -- Wagner Investment -- Analyst

Ronnie Simpson -- -- Analyst

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