BQE Water Reports Q3 2023 Results

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, 2023.

“In the third quarter, we set record highs in revenue, net income and Adjusted EBITDA. Our growth was largely driven by new streams of recurring revenue through the operations established in the Yukon and in Southwest USA. By the end of the third quarter, we expanded our water treatment operation services to four different sites in North America. Looking forward, we plan on executing our long-term growth strategy by expanding our project pipeline and growing our recurring revenues from water treatment services.” stated David Kratochvil, President & CEO of BQE Water.

FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS

  • Recorded Proportional and GAAP revenues of $8.0 million and $6.2 million in Q3 2023 respectively, 40% and 78% increases compared to Q3 2022 and both historic highs during a quarter largely due to new recurring revenues from operations and growth in technical services in 2023.
  • Operating margin of $3.3 million in Q3 2023 compared to $1.7 million in Q3 2022, an 88% increase.
  • Record high net income of $2.1 million in Q3 2023 compared to $573,000 in Q3 2022, a 272% increase.
  • Adjusted EBITDA of $2.7 million in Q3 2023 compared to $1.4 million in Q3 2022, a 101% increase.
  • Working capital of $10.0 million as at September 30, 2023, an increase of $2.9 million or 40% from December 31, 2022.

 

Other selected financial results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2023 are as follows: 

(in ’000s) 3 mos ended Sept. 30   9 mos ended Sept. 30
  2023 2022   2023 2022
Revenue from Operation Services 3,166 1,959   5,435 2,807
Revenue from Technical Services 3,080 1,544   7,688 5,885
Revenue from joint ventures in China 1,718 2,204   4,173 5,707
Proportional Revenues 7,964 5,707   17,296 14,399
           
Net income 2,131 573   2,404 1,404
Adjusted EBITDA 2,742 1,361   4,112 3,147

 

OPERATIONAL SERVICES HIGHLIGHTS

Our operational services consist of the operation or technical supervision of water treatment plants, which generate recurring revenues from three main sources: sales of recovered metals, water treatment fees and operations support fees. The Company’s operations by source of revenue are as follows: 

Operations Location Revenue Source
JCC-BQE Joint Venture Jiangxi province, China Sales of recovered metals
MWT-BQE Joint Venture Shandong province, China Sales of recovered metals
Raglan Mine for Glencore Northern Québec, Canada Water treatment fees
Minto Mine for Government of Yukon Yukon, Canada Water treatment fees
Zhongkuang Metallurgical Facilities for MWT Shandong province, China Operations support fees
Zhaojin Metallurgical Facilities for MWT Shandong province, China Operations support fees
Power utility ash pond for WesTech Eastern USA Water treatment fees
Base metal project for a metal producer Southwest USA Water treatment fees

 

JCC-BQE Joint Venture Operations

Our 50/50 joint venture with partner Jiangxi Copper Company (“JCC”) operates three 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 for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2023 are as follows: 

 

(in ’000s) 3 months ended Sept. 30   9 months ended Sept. 30
  2023 2022   2023 2022
Water treated (cubic metres) 6,631 6,395   17,068 15,183
Copper recovered (pounds) 741 1,097   1,757 2,509

 

In Q3 2023, all three plants met mechanical availability and process performance targets set by the Company. The volume of water treated increased by 4% while the mass of copper recovered decreased by 32% compared to Q3 2022. Changes in water volume and feed grade from period to period are largely the result of environmental conditions beyond the control of the joint venture.

 

MWT-BQE Joint Venture Operations

Our 20% share in 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 of China. MWT-BQE generates revenues from the sale of zinc and copper recovered from smelter wastewater. The operating results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2023 are as follows:

(in ’000s) 3 months ended Sept. 30   9 months ended Sept. 30
  2023 2022   2023 2022
Water treated (cubic metres) 81 185   203 504
Zinc recovered (pounds) 35 199   114 305
Copper recovered (pounds) 4 7   45 113

The smelter periodically operated its production lines with ores from different sources which led to varying concentrations of zinc and copper in the feed and fluctuations in the volume of wastewater treated by the plant. The joint venture has no control over the composition and volume of feed that flows into the plant. During Q3 2023, the plant was shut down intermittently as the value of zinc and copper in the feed was lower than the recovery cost of the metals.

 

BQE Water Operations

The number of operating days contributing to water treatment or support fees by plant for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2023 are as follows:

(in days) 3 months ended Sept. 30   9 months ended Sept. 30
  2023 2022   2023 2022
Raglan Mine water treatment plants 92 92   132 122
Minto Mine water treatment plant 92 35   273 35
Zhongkuang SART plant 92 92   272 257
Zhaojin SART plant 85 64   262 87
Water treatment plant in Eastern USA 55 92   182 273
Water treatment plants in Southwest USA 92 92   271 160

The volume of water treated by geographic location for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2023 are as follows: 

(in ’000s cubic metres) 3 months ended Sept. 30   9 months ended Sept. 30
  2023 2022   2023 2022
Raglan Mine water treatment plants 1,320 1,316   1,541 1,534
Minto Mine water treatment plant 328 128   830 128
SART plants in China 147 160   454 266
Water treatment plants in USA 15 8   25 15

 

The Company, with Inuit partner Nuvumiut Development, operates four treatment plants at Raglan Mine in Nunavik for Glencore Canada Corporation (“Glencore”). During Q3 2023, the total volume of water treated across all four plants at Raglan Mine is comparable to that of Q3 2022.

In September 2022, we began providing operational services for Minto Metals at Minto Mine in the Yukon. In May 2023, the customer ceased active operations at the mine and the Yukon Government stepped in to ensure the continuation of water management services in support of environmental protection. Throughout this transition, our operators were onsite to operate the water treatment plant and provide continuous water treatment. During Q3 2023, while working directly for the Yukon Government, our team continued to treat and discharge clean water at the mine.

In 2021, we began operations of the Zhongkuang SART plant and the Zhaojin SART plant at metallurgical facilities in China. Both plants have been under our technical supervision since the start of full production. Both SART plants operated fully throughout Q3 2023 without disruption.

In 2021, we completed the commissioning of our first project in the power generation industry, a treatment plant utilizing our Selen-IX™ process to remove selenium from ash pond water for WesTech Engineering (“WesTech”). In Q3 2023, our operations team continued providing water treatment services with the Selen-IX™ circuit to manage the presence of selenium in the feed.

In 2022, we completed the commissioning of a treatment plant utilizing a combination of nanofiltration and our proprietary selenium electro-reduction process for the simultaneous removal of selenium and sulphate from mine water for a base metal project in the American Southwest. During Q3 2023, our team completed the performance test milestone for a 2nd newly constructed selenium removal water treatment plant which entered the operation phase in August 2023. As a result, we are currently providing water treatment operation services for two water treatment plants in the American Southwest.

 

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 Q3 2023 are summarized below.

Selenium Removal Projects

  • Continued the wet commissioning phase of the third BQE designed Selen-IX™ plant at a US mine.
  • Deployed on-site pilot testing of Selen-IX™ demonstration as a key component for permitting of a gold mine expansion in the US.
  • Completed a preliminary technical assessment to treat selenium rich wastewater at a power generation site in the US.

Water Consulting Projects (Water Management, Treatability, Permitting Assistance, Toxicity Mitigation)

  • Completed a technical assessment of water treatment requirements and options for closure and post-closure at a mine in the Yukon overseen by the provincial government.
  • Continued to provide engineering design services for three water treatment plants to support permitting of the KSM gold-copper project in British Columbia.
  • Continued to provide engineering services for design for the construction of a new water treatment plant for water recycle at a gold mine in Mexico.
  • Completed the water treatment pilot test campaign integrated into a rare earth elements metallurgical extraction project in Chile.
  • Initiated work on an investigation of root causes of effluent toxicity at a mine in Eastern Canada.
  • Initiated pilot scale tests to demonstrate a new innovative method of managing thiosalts in mine effluents at an existing mine in Canada.
  • Initiated an engineering review of an existing reverse osmosis plant, with a focus on increasing plant capacity through optimization to avoid major capital expense, for a customer in Chile.
  • Completed a laboratory scale program aimed at increasing water recovery and reducing brine waste for a reverse osmosis system being planned for implementation at a gold mine in BC.

Cyanide Management Projects (Cyanide Destruction, Recycle)

  • Completed a lab scale program to confirm the design basis for a cyanide removal plant with the discharge limit of less than 10 ppb for a project in the US.
  • Initiated proof of concept lab scale testing of removal of cobalt and associated cyanide from an existing gold mine in Canada.
  • Continued with the engineering design for a third SART plant for Shandong Gold in China.

 

COMMENTARY AND OUTLOOK

We are remarkably pleased with our Q3 2023 and year-to-date financial results, which demonstrate that our strategic focus of rebalancing our revenue sources from the sales of recovered metals to fees from recurring water treatment  operations is bearing fruit. On a year-to date basis, our water treatment fees from operations, for the first time, exceeded the sale of recovered metals by $1.3 million. We expect this trend to continue and expand in future years.

In the first nine months of 2023, we extended our water treatment operation services to four different sites in North America and grew our year-to-date water treatment fee revenues to $5.4 million, an increase of $2.6 million or 94% compared to the same period in 2022. The growth in operation services was facilitated by a new selenium removal water treatment plant in the US entering the operation phase during Q3 2023 and our increased role in the operation of water treatment at the Minto Mine compared to 2022. Reflecting on the results of our China joint venture operations, it is too early to determine whether the drop in revenue from metals sales is a one-time event due to the lack of precipitation or part of a new long-term trend of diminishing tonnage of metals available for recovery. Either way, the financial impact of our long-term metals recovery operations have been mitigated with our current revenue model.

Revenue from technical services, which is generated from our specialized professional services in water management, has always been a forerunner to future operation services. Our year-to-date revenues from technical services grew to $7.7 million, an increase of 31% from the same period in 2022 due to several major projects worked on in 2023. We are pleased with the successful completion of the pilot campaign for a rare-earth-extraction project in Chile, where successful integration and performance of water treatment into the extraction process plays a key role on obtaining environmental approvals for the project. We were also engaged with two new pilot projects: one involving site demonstration of our Selen-IX™ process at a gold mine in the US where selenium treatment is required as part of the mine expansion, and another related to a site demonstration of a new innovative treatment process developed by BQE to manage thiosalts in mining effluent for a mine in Canada.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2023, we plan to continue executing our existing projects. In the fourth quarter, our operating season at our Canadian operations will pause and be winterized due the cold climate, while our US operations will continue year-round. While we do expect the revenue from either operation services or technical to be at a similar level when compared to the year ago period, we do anticipate weaker results from our China joint venture in Q4 2023 compared to Q4 2022. We expect our balance sheet to continue to strengthen as we enter 2024. 

SELECTED FINANCIAL INFORMATION

For a complete set of Interim Financial Statements and MD&A, please go to www.bqewater.com.

(in $’000 except for per share amounts) 3 months ended Sept. 30 9 months ended Sept. 30
  2,023 2,022 2,023 2,022
  $ $ $ $
Revenues 6,246 3,503 13,123 8,692
Operating expenses (excluding depreciation) (2,959) (1,759) (6,815) (5,063)
Operating margin 3,287 1,744 6,308 3,629
         
Share of income from joint ventures 382 281 870 1,743
General and administration (610) (591) (2,032) (1,774)
Sales and development (555) (414) (1,726) (1,205)
Share-based payments (109) (172) (328) (462)
Depreciation and amortization (111) (70) (304) (183)
Income from operations and joint ventures 2,284 778 2,788 1,748
         
Other income (expenses) (13) 84 48 (35)
Bad debt expenses (259)
Income tax expenses (140) (289) (173) (309)
         
Net income for the period 2,131 573 2,404 1,404
         
Net earnings per share (basic) 2 0 2 1
Net earnings per share (diluted) 2 0 2 1
         
Proportional Revenues (Non-GAAP measures) 7,964 5,707 17,296 14,399
Adjusted EBITDA (Non-GAAP measures) 2,742 1,361 4,112 3,147
Comprehensive income 2,202 573 2,014 1,158
         
         
      at Sept. 30, at Dec. 31,
      2,023 2,022
      $ $
Cash     6,526 6,234
Proportional cash (Non-GAAP measures)     8,344 9,582
Working capital     10,021 7,165
Total assets     18,882 15,988
Total non-current liabilities     1,690 555
Shareholders’ equity     14,530 12,638

 

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.

 

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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, 2022). 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.