VANCOUVER, BC – BQE Water Inc. (TSX-V: BQE), a leader in the treatment and management of mine impacted waters, is pleased to release its interim consolidated financial results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020.
- Adjusted EBITDA of $2.0 million in Q3 2020 compared to $1.5 million in Q3 2019;
- Revenues reported under GAAP of $2.7 million in Q3 2020 compared to $2.3 million in Q3 2019;
- Proportional Revenues of $5.3 million in Q3 2020 compared to $4.0 million in Q3 2019;
- Net income of $1.4 million in Q3 2020 compared to $849,000 in Q3 2019;
- Working capital increased by 58% over the nine-month period, from $1.8 million at the end of 2019 to $2.9 million at the end of Q3 2020; and
- Proportional Cash, which includes our share held in joint ventures, as at September 30, 2020 was $4.6 million compared to $4.2 million as at December 31, 2019.
OPERATIONAL SERVICES HIGHLIGHTS
Our operational services consist of the operation of water treatment plants, which generate recurring revenues for the Company from two main sources: sales of recovered metals and water treatment fees.
Revenues from Sales of Recovered Metals
The Company operates four water treatment plants that generate revenues from the sale of recovered metals, three plants from the JCC-BQE Joint Venture (“JCC-BQE”) and one plant from the MWT-BQE Joint Venture (“MWT-BQE”).
JCC-BQE Joint Venture
Our 50/50 joint venture with partner JCC operates water treatment plants at Dexing Mine and at Yinshan Mine in Jiangxi province of China. The volume of water treated and pounds of copper recovered by the plants fluctuate seasonally depending on precipitation levels in the region. The operating results are as follows:
|(in ’000s)||3 mos ended Sept. 30||9 mos ended Sept. 30|
|Water treated (cubic metres)||8,631||7,267||16,901||20,353|
|Copper produced (pounds)||1,476||1,095||2,642||3,066|
During Q3 2020, all three plants met or exceeded mechanical availability and process performance. The volume of water treated increased by 19% and the mass of copper recovered increased by 35% over the same period in 2019. Unlike the drought experienced in the first five months of 2020, rainfall at Dexing Mine exceeded average precipitation levels in the region during the third quarter. Changes in water volume and feed grade are largely the result of environmental conditions beyond the control of the joint venture and will fluctuate from period to period.
MWT-BQE Joint Venture
Our 20% share of MWT-BQE is with our 80% partner Beijing MWT Water Treatment Project Limited Company (“MWT”) and together we operate a water treatment plant at a smelter in Shandong province. MWT-BQE generates the majority of its revenues from the sale of zinc recovered from smelter wastewater, along with small traces of copper found in the stream. The operating results are as follows:
|(in ’000s)||3 mos ended Sept. 30||9 mos ended Sept. 30|
|Zinc recovered (pounds)||167||135||886||899|
|Copper recovered (pounds)||44||30||144||134|
During the third quarter, the smelter continued operating their production lines with higher-grade ore, which led to a higher concentration of zinc and copper in the feed composition and also an increase in the volume of wastewater to be treated by the plant. The joint venture has no control in the composition and volume of the feed that flows into the plant. The changes made by the smelter are believed to be temporary and are expected to resume regular production in the next three to six months.
Revenues from Water Treatment Fees
The Company is contracted to operate and provide technical support for water treatment plants that generate recurring revenues in the form of water treatment and operations support fees. They include four plants operated by BQE Water for Glencore at Raglan Mine in Northern Québec, the newly commissioned plant at Kemess in Northern BC, and a plant operated by the MWT-BQE joint venture but supported and supervised by BQE Water in China. Operating fees from the Glencore and Kemess operations are primarily based on the volume of water treated and discharged in accordance with strict regulatory requirements. The MWT-BQE plant generates fixed operations support fees for the achievement of operational targets that rely on the Company’s technical expertise.
For our 17th operating season at Raglan Mine, the team mobilized to site in April 2020. Water discharge from the lime plants was on schedule while discharge was delayed from the ChemSulphide® plant to mid-July due to the long lead time required for the replacement of a discharge pump.
The Company successfully completed the commissioning of the first industrial scale plant utilizing its patented Selen-IX™ process for selenium management at the Kemess property in Northern BC owned by Centerra Gold. Since late August 2020, the plant has operated continuously treating 5,600 m3/day of mine influenced water to produce treated water with selenium concentrations of less than 2 parts per billion. During Q3 2020, the plant generated water treatment fees during the second half of September.
The MWT-BQE plant in Shandong generates an operation support fee paid to the Company by MWT-BQE. This fee is not linked to the volume of water treated but to the achievement of operational targets which rely on the Company’s expertise delivered through ongoing operations services.
The volume of water treated and discharged are as follows:
|(in ’000s)||3 mos ended Sept. 30||9 mos ended Sept. 30|
|4 plants at Raglan Mine (cubic metres)||1,081||1,412||1,175||1,753|
|Treatment plant at Kemess (cubic metres)||98||–||98||–|
|Treatment plant at MWT-BQE (cubic metres)||126||164||458||446|
TECHNICAL SERVICES HIGHLIGHTS
BQE Water’s technical expertise and IP are applicable globally across broad areas of water management. The highlights of technical services provided to clients and technical innovation projects during Q2 2020 are summarized below.
Commercial Deployment of Selen-IX™ and Direct Selenium Electro-Reduction (“ERC”) Technology
- Completed the commissioning and the performance test of the Selen-IX™ plant at Kemess Mine in Northern BC.
- Completed engineering design and initiated procurement for the first commercial scale direct selenium ERC plant at a mine in North America.
- Continued to provide engineering services to support procurement and fabrication of equipment for the first Selen-IX™ plant outside of mining currently under construction at a power utility ash pond in the US.
Cyanide Management and Recovery for Precious Metals Extraction Projects using SART
- Initiated the commissioning phase of the SART plant for Shandong Zhongkuang Group in China.
- Continued to provide engineering support for the construction of a SART plant for Zhaojin Mining Industry in China.
Water Consulting Services – Management, Treatability, Permitting Assistance, Toxicity Mitigation
- Water management strategy for El Mirador Mine in Ecuador.
- Technical assessment of water treatment requirements to introduce a flotation circuit upstream of an existing cyanide leaching process for an existing gold mine in North America.
- Scoping level engineering for a selenium removal plant at an active mine in Canada.
- Treatability assessment of organo-arsenic removal from mine water at an active gold mine in Southeast Asia.
- Development of an alternate water management and treatment strategy for the KSM project in BC.
- Assessment of water treatment requirements and upgrades of an existing system at a mine in Central America.
- Engineering design of a plant for the simultaneous removal of sulphate and selenium from mine influenced water in the US.
- Completed the pilot demonstration of selenium removal to support the permitting of a new mine in North America.
- Preliminary technical assessment for selective thiocyanate removal combined with cyanide recovery from carbon-in-pulp tailings at a project site in North America.
COMMENTARY AND OUTLOOK
We are very pleased with our Q3 2020 financial performance, which represents the strongest third quarter ever recorded by the Company. Following a moderate second quarter, our Q3 2020 financial results again confirm that the Company’s quarterly performance can be variable and that a more reliable performance indicator is to compare our financial results over the longer term. Our Q3 2020 results also confirm the positive outlook we presented last quarter for the remainder of 2020. More specifically, the year-over-year decline in revenues in Q2 2020, which was caused by the late start to the operating season at our Canadian water treatment plants, the delay in commissioning the plant at Kemess and the drought in China, was substantially erased in Q3 2020 as the bulk of our recurring revenues shifted from Q2 2020 to Q3 2020. When combined with continued strength in our technical services revenues, 2020 is positioned for significant improvement in our overall financial performance relative to 2019. We also maintained a working capital balance of $2.9 million as at September 30, 2020, up 58% from December 31, 2019.
There remain some uncertainties in Q4 2020, such as the climatic conditions at our operating sites and metal prices, both of which affect our recurring revenues. However, we expect revenues from technical services contracts in Q4 2020 to remain strong. Adding to our cash balance as at September 30, 2020, we subsequently received our 2019 annual dividend from our China joint venture with Jiangxi Copper Company (“JCC”) in October. Therefore, our overall outlook for the remainder of the year remains positive and we expect to enter 2021 with a strong balance sheet, positioning us well to withstand any ongoing uncertainty and impacts stemming from COVID-19.
Our longer-term outlook remains positive as it is driven by new water treatment plants being operational in the US, Canada and China. These include:
- The newly added selenium removal treatment circuit for an existing plant at a US mine that is expected to be operational in Q3 2021;
- The first BQE Water treatment plant for selenium removal outside of mining that is currently under construction at a power utility to remediate an ash pond in the US; and
- Two SART plants in China that will complete construction in 2020 and transition from commissioning to ongoing operations in 2021.
While the start of revenue contributions from these plants is subject to various potential project delays, this reality does not fundamentally alter the projected growth in the long-term recurring revenues associated with these projects. Moreover, based on our current technical services contracts and project pipeline, we anticipate that we will continue to deliver on our target of adding two new plants per year to our portfolio of ongoing operations beyond 2021. This positive outlook is strengthened by our potential to significantly increase our presence beyond the mining industry over the long term, subject to the success of the first selenium treatment plant at a power utility.
SELECTED FINANCIAL INFORMATION
For a complete set of Financial Statements and Management Discussion and Analysis, please go to www.bqewater.com.
|(in $’000 except for per share amounts)||3 mos ended Sept. 30||9 mos ended Sept. 30|
|General and administration expenses||342||405||1,209||1,151|
|Sales and development expenses||153||241||622||833|
|Share-based payment expenses||113||55||280||140|
|Share of earnings from joint ventures||(785)||(402)||(1,038)||(1,111)|
|Income from operations and joint ventures||1,501||1,116||1,413||1,184|
|Other expenses, net||(58)||(267)||(43)||(315)|
Net income for the period
|Other comprehensive income (loss)|
|Translation gain (loss) on foreign operations||97||(140)||292||(354)|
Comprehensive income for the period
|Net earnings per share (basic)||1.18||0.70||1.13||0.72|
|Net earnings per share (diluted)||1.17||0.70||1.12||0.72|
|at Sept. 30,||at Dec. 31,|
|Total long-term liabilities||868||331|
Subsequent to the end of the reporting period, on October 22, 2020, the Company received its share of the annual dividend distribution from its JCC joint venture. The value of the dividend is $4.5 million RMB, which is approximately $870,000 CAD.
About BQE Water
BQE Water is a service provider specializing in water treatment and management for metals mining, smelting and refining. We are helping to transform the way the industry thinks about water in the context of natural resource projects by offering services and expertise which enables more sustainable water management practices and improved overall project performance at reduced risks. BQE Water invests in innovation and has developed unique intellectual property through the commercialization of several new technologies at mine sites around the world for organizations including Glencore, Jiangxi Copper, Freeport-McMoRan and the US EPA. BQE Water is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada and trades on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol BQE. Visit www.bqewater.com for more information.
The Toronto Venture Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or the accuracy of this release.
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
Certain information contained herein may not be based on historical fact and therefore constitutes “forward-looking information” under applicable Canadian securities legislation. This includes without limitation statements containing the words “plan”, “expect”, “project”, “estimate”, “intend”, “believe”, “anticipate”, “may”, “will” and other similar words or expressions. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management at the date the statements are made, and are subject to a variety of risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause actual events or results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, the Company’s dependence on key personnel and contracts, uncertainty with respect to the profitability of the Company’s technologies, competition, technology risk, the Company’s ability to protect its intellectual property and proprietary information, fluctuations in commodity prices, currency risk, environmental regulation and the Company’s ability to manage growth and other factors described in the Company’s filings with the Canadian securities regulators at www.sedar.com (including without limitation the factors described in the section entitled “Risks and Uncertainties” in the Company’s MD&A for the year ended December 31, 2019). Given these risks and uncertainties, the reader is cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. All forward-looking information contained herein is based on management’s current expectations and the Company undertakes no obligation to revise or update such forward-looking information to reflect subsequent events or circumstances, except as required by law.