Comstock Mining Announces 2020 Year End Results and Recent Updates; Launches Climate Smart Mining and Valorization to Fuel Clean Energy Transition

3/11, 12:45 PM (Source: GlobeNewswire)

VIRGINIA CITY, Nev., March 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Comstock Mining Inc. (“Comstock” and the “Company”) (NYSE American: LODE), a diversified natural resource production and processing company, announced its full year 2020 results and its plans for meeting the rapidly escalating demand for natural resources and increasingly scarce metals for clean energy technologies.

Select Strategic Highlights

  • Acquired majority stake rights in LiNiCo, a lithium-ion battery recycling company;
  • Acquired an indirect strategic stake in Green Li-Ion, innovator of 99.9% pure cathode recycling technology.
  • Launched Philippine-based mercury remediation and gold reclamation ("MCU-P") joint venture.
  • Launched MCU’s Nevada-based mercury remediation pilot and gold reclamation project.
  • Secured exploration lease with historic Sutro Tunnel Company, targeting gold and silver resources.
  • Acquired option to purchase all properties, rights, and royalties associated with Sutro’s properties.
  • Completed full scale geophysical surveys and initial interpretations for the entire Comstock Lode District.
  • Executed agreements to sell two non-mining properties in Silver Springs for $10.1 million in 2021.
  • Executed a lease with the option to sell the Daney Ranch property for $2.7 million.
  • Completed a mine sale to Tonogold Resources, Inc., recording a gain of $18.3 million.
  • Launched a three-year strategic plan and aligned 100% performance incentives with the Company’s goal.
  • Raised $15 million in net equity proceeds in 2021, extinguishing all debt obligations and funding new growth initiatives.

Select Financial Results

  • Net income was $14.9 million, or $0.49 per common share, due to an $18.3 million gain on Tonogold sale.
  • Debt obligations were $3.6 million at December 31, 2020, all of which was extinguished in 2021.
  • Cash and equivalents was $2.4 million on December 31, 2020, and $12.1 million on March 5, 2021.

On March 4, 2021, the Company closed on a $16 million registered direct sale of 4 million common shares at a price of $4.00 per share. Net proceeds were approximately $15 million, after commissions and expenses. The Company now has 42,455,515 common shares outstanding, including the 4 million registered shares sold in the March 2021 offering, and 3 million restricted shares issued as consideration to LiNiCo in connection with the LiNiCo share acquisition. On March 5, 2021, the Company extinguished all of its debt obligations totaling $3.6 million, saving over $0.3 million in interest expense over the next 6 months.

“We have successfully restructured our business over the past three years by eliminating debt and dramatically reducing costs, while repositioning our assets to build stakeholder value with transformative, high value, high impact, climate smart mining and valorization projects, in large part to meet rapidly escalating demand for the increasingly scarce metals and other raw materials needed to fuel the global transition to clean energy,” stated Corrado DeGasperis, Executive Chairman and CEO. “Our first valorization project launched in 2020 with the MCU global mercury remediation system. Our second valorization project recently closed, with our entry into lithium-ion battery recycling through our large stake in LiNiCo, and we are only just beginning, as we are currently evaluating several very exciting, strategically aligned, high-growth, high-impact, valorization projects.”

Outlook Moving Forward

The Company’s strategic plan is designed to deliver significant shareholder value over the next three years. The plan objectives include operating and growing existing and new Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (“ESG”) driven projects, including MCU and LiNiCo, while monetizing over $20 million more in non-strategic assets, and funding this new growth.

Mr. De Gasperis continued: “We have directly linked employee compensation incentives with performance objectives designed to increase shareholder value. If we do not perform, then our shareholders are not rewarded, and neither are we. The objectives are designed to deliver $500+ million in equity value by 2023, or more than $12 per share, while positioning the Company for accelerated growth and cash flows thereafter. We will provide updates regarding our progress in the coming weeks and months.”

Additional Disclosure on the Company’s Valorization Projects

Comstock Secures Majority Stake in LiNiCo; Indirect Stake in Green Li-Ion

On February 17, 2021, the Comstock announced transactions securing a large equity stake in LINICO Corporation (“LiNiCo”), a lithium-ion battery (“LIB”) recycling company who recently acquired a state-of-the-art battery metal recycling facility from Aqua Metals, Inc. (“Aqua Metals”) located in the Tahoe Reno Industrial (“TRI”) Center in Storey County, Nevada. The Company will pay up to $4,500,000 in cash and delivered 3,000,000 restricted common shares, representing up to $10,750,000 in consideration for up to a 64% stake in LiNiCo while Aqua Metals is investing $2,000,000 for a 10% stake.

LiNiCo has used a portion of those proceeds to increase its direct strategic investment in Green Li-ion Pte, Ltd. (“Green Li-ion”) to just over 20%, acquire the state-of-the-art battery metal recycling facility from Aqua Metals, and purchase Green Li-ion’s patented process equipment enabling the production of 99.9% pure lithium-ion cathodes in the U.S. LiNiCo’s new facility was designed for, and well situated to, receive, crush, and separate battery materials into black mass. Green Li-ion’s technology has been proven to convert black mass into rejuvenated, high purity, battery grade metals and essentially pure cathodes for a fraction of the cost and time of conventional solutions.

LiNiCo has commenced securing permits, feedstock arrangements and 99.9% pure sample cathode materials and plans on commencing production late this year, building toward cathode production capacity of about 10,000 tons per year. At just 33% of that rate and 60% of applicable commodity prices, the LiNiCo facility should generate more than $100 million in sales with pre-tax operating income margins exceeding 30%, adding 40 good paying Nevada jobs and making a landmark contribution to Comstock’s ESG-based Product and Process Stewardship and Climate Smart Mining objectives.

Mercury Clean Up LLC (“MCU”) and the Launch of MCU Philippines Inc. (“MCU-P”) Operations

During 2019, the Company entered into a Mercury Remediation Pilot, Investment and Joint Venture Agreement (the “MCU Agreement”) with MCU. Pursuant to the MCU Agreement, the Company paid $2 million of capital contributions in exchange for 15% of the fully-diluted membership interest of MCU. The Company also has a 50% in MCU Philippines Inc., the first international mercury remediation joint venture in the Philippines (MCU-P) that officially commenced processing this week in the province of Davao D’ Oro, Philippines, with a full political and regulatory support of the eco-system-wide mercury clean up.

The Company has exercised it rights to coordinate up to an additional $3 million in secured financing for MCU-P, and recently completed the first $2 million of loans to MCU-P, earning another 10% of MCU (for a total of 25%), resulting in the Company securing the rights to 62.5% of the economics for all of the mercury remediation projects.

Gold and Silver Developments

Dayton and Spring Valley Gold and Silver Mineral Property Development

The Dayton resource area ranks as the Company’s top exploration and potential mine development target. Our geology team has been completely updating the interpretive model of the Dayton resource area, continuing into Spring Valley. The Company plans to generate a resource estimate based on a standalone, S-K 1300 technical report summary, and then follow up with additional drilling and technical work leading to an economic feasibility report.

During the third quarter of 2020, the Company engaged Geotech Ltd ("Geotech") of Aurora, Canada, to conduct an airborne geophysical survey of the Dayton resource area, Spring Valley exploration targets, and the rest of the Company's Comstock District properties. The survey included both magnetic and Geotech's proprietary Versatile Time-Domain Electromagnetic ("VTEM") surveys. The survey was flown from September 19 through October 3, 2020, with 1,161 line-kilometers. The interpreted, three-dimensional results are scheduled to be delivered in early 2021. The results will greatly increase the Company’s understanding of the Dayton resource area and Spring Valley resource expansion potential, along with the Company’s other exploration targets in Lyon and Storey Counties.

Lucerne Gold and Silver Mineral Properties – Revenue and Royalties

On September 8, 2020, the sale of Comstock Mining LLC, the entity that owed the Lucerne properties was closed, and Tonogold acquired 100% of the membership interests. The Company recorded a gain on the sale of the transaction of $18.3 million, agreed to receive reimbursements of approximately $2 million per annum from a lease option agreement for future processing of Lucerne mine ores, and also retained a 1.5% Net Smelter Return (“NSR”) royalty on all of the Lucerne mineral properties. Tonogold plans on publishing an initial NI 43-101 resource report for the Lucerne properties during 2021.

Occidental and Gold Hill Gold and Silver Mineral Properties – Exploration and Mining Lease

The Occidental and Gold Hill group of exploration targets represent longer-term exploration target areas that contain many historic mining operations, including the Overman, Con Imperial, Caledonia, and Yellow Jacket mines. The Company entered into a renewable mineral lease with Tonogold for these mineral properties owned or controlled by the Company in Storey County, Nevada (the "Exploration Lease"). The Exploration Lease grants the right to use these properties for mineral exploration and development, and ultimately the production, removal and sale of minerals and certain other materials. The lease requires exploration spending, permitting, and engineering commitments for a minimum of $1.0 million per year and a cumulative total of $20.0 million over 20 years. Tonogold has committed to specific milestones for issuing technical and feasibility reports on their results. Tonogold pays a quarterly lease fee of $10 thousand, in advance. The lease fee escalates by 10% each year plus reimbursing the Company for all costs associated with owning the properties. The lease also provides for royalty payments after mining operations commence starting at the rate of 3% of NSR for the first year following the commencement of mining and 1.5% of NSR thereafter for all of the properties.

Mr. DeGasperis continued: “While we have historically focused on metals, our philosophy has always been about extracting and processing precious and strategic natural resources, where the words “precious” and “strategic” were defined to include high value metals based on market drivers and prevailing commodity prices. Today, however, as we think through the inevitabilities of the “perfect storm” of demand from the world-wide transition to clean energy, increasing population, and increasing natural resource scarcity, our targets are expanding to encompass additional and emerging high value commodities. We are currently evaluating several very exciting ESG-based, nature-based, highly accretive, valorization projects and investments.”

Specific Moving Forward Objectives for Existing Projects

Specific performance objectives for the Company’s existing operations include:

Commercialize a global, ESG-compliant, profitable, mercury remediation and other critical mineral systems:

  • Establish the technical efficacy of MCU’s Comstock Mercury System, and protect the intellectual property;
  • Deploy and operate the first international mercury remediation project by deploying MCU’s first, second and at least third mercury remediation systems into the Philippines;
  • Identify, evaluate and prioritize a pipeline of potential mercury remediation projects; then deploy the third and fourth mercury remediation projects, producing extended, superior cash flow returns; and,
  • Assess and acquire accretive, ESG-based, strategic expansion opportunities.

Establish and grow the value of our mineral properties:

  • Establish the Dayton Resource area’s maiden, stand-alone mineral resource estimate;
  • Expand the Dayton-Spring Valley Complex through exploration drilling and geophysical modelling;
  • Develop the expanded Dayton-SV Complex toward full economic feasibility, supporting a decision to mine;
  • Entitle the Dayton-SV Complex with geotechnical, metallurgical, environmental studies and permitting; and,
  • Validate the Comstock NSR Royalty portfolio, i.e., Comstock and Occidental Lodes, Lucerne, etc.

Monetize non-strategic assets and build a quality organization:

  • Monetize our third-party, junior mining securities responsibly, for $12.5 million or more;
  • Monetize our non-mining assets for $12.5 million, excluding the Gold Hill Hotel;
  • Grow the value of our Opportunity Zone investments to over $30 million; and,
  • Deploy a systemic organization, capable of accelerating growth and handling complexity.

Mr. De Gasperis concluded, “We have directly linked our strategic performance objectives with our goal of delivering $500 million in shareholder value (or at least $12 per share) and then aligned all of our people with 100% performance-based, stock-based compensation based on both delivering these objectives, funding them and delivering at least that value to our shareholders. Again, if our shareholders are not rewarded, then neither are we.”

See press release with images at https://www.comstockmining.com/press-releases/comstock-mining-…nergy-transition/

Conference Call

The Company will host a conference call today, March 11, 2021, at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time/11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. The live call will include a moderated Q&A, after the prepared comments by the Company. The Webcast will include a moderated Q&A, after the prepared remarks. Please join the event 5-10 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. The link and/or dial-in telephone numbers for the live Webcast are as follows:

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Meeting ID: 743 701 3377
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Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kGBcBXcOw

The recording of the Webcast will be available, within 24 hours of the call, on the Company website:

http://www.comstockmining.com/investors/investor-library

About Comstock Mining Inc.

Comstock Mining Inc. (NYSE: LODE) (the “Company”) is an emerging leader in climate-smart, sustainable mineral development and production of environment-enhancing, increasingly scarce strategic and precious metals. The Company is focused on conservation-based, high-value, cash-generating valorization of mineral and metals essential to meeting the rapidly increasing demand for clean energy technologies. The Company has extensive, contiguous property in the historic, world-class Comstock and Silver City mining districts (collectively, the “Comstock District”) with fully permitted, metallurgical labs and an operational, mineral processing and beneficiation platform that includes a growing portfolio of mercury remediation, gold, silver, lithium, nickel, and cobalt processing capabilities. To learn more, please visit www.comstockmining.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release and any related calls or discussions may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, are forward-looking statements. 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. Forward-looking statements include statements about matters such as: consummation of all pending transactions; project, asset or Company valuations; future industry market conditions; future explorations, acquisitions, investments and asset sales; future performance of and closings under various agreements; future changes in our exploration activities; future estimated mineral resources; future prices and sales of, and demand for, our products; future operating margins; available resources; environmental conservation outcomes; future impacts of land entitlements and uses; future permitting activities and needs therefor; future production capacity and operations; future operating and overhead costs; future capital expenditures and their impact on us; future impacts of operational and management changes (including changes in the board of directors); future changes in business strategies, planning and tactics and impacts of recent or future changes; future employment and contributions of personnel, including consultants; future land sales, investments, acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, business combinations, operational, tax, financial and restructuring initiatives; the nature and timing of and accounting for restructuring charges and derivative liabilities and the impact thereof; contingencies; future environmental compliance and changes in the regulatory environment; future offerings of equity or debt securities; asset sales and associated costs; future working capital, costs, revenues, business opportunities, debt levels, cash flows, margins, earnings and growth. 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, many of which are unforeseeable and beyond our control and 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 filings with the SEC and the following: counterparty risks; capital markets’ valuation and pricing risks; adverse effects of climate changes or natural disasters; global economic and capital market uncertainties; the speculative nature of gold or mineral exploration, including risks of diminishing quantities or grades of qualified resources; operational or technical difficulties in connection with exploration or mining activities; contests over title to properties; potential dilution to our stockholders from our stock issuances and recapitalization and balance sheet restructuring activities; potential inability to comply with applicable government regulations or law; adoption of or changes in legislation or regulations adversely affecting businesses; permitting constraints or delays; decisions regarding business opportunities that may be presented to, or pursued by, us or others; the impact of, or the non-performance by parties under agreements relating to, acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, business combinations, asset sales, leases, options and investments to which we may be party; changes in the United States or other monetary or fiscal policies or regulations; interruptions in production capabilities due to capital constraints; equipment failures; fluctuation of prices for gold or certain other commodities (such as silver, zinc, cyanide, water, diesel fuel and electricity); changes in generally accepted accounting principles; adverse effects of terrorism and geopolitical events; potential inability to implement business strategies; potential inability to grow revenues; potential inability to attract and retain key personnel; interruptions in delivery of critical supplies, equipment and raw materials due to credit or other limitations imposed by vendors or others; assertion of claims, lawsuits and proceedings; potential inability to satisfy debt and lease obligations; 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; inability to maintain the listing of our securities; 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. Except as may be required by securities or other law, we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Neither this press release nor any related calls or discussions constitutes an offer to sell, the solicitation of an offer to buy or a recommendation with respect to any securities of the Company, the fund or any other issuer.

 Contact information:

  
 Comstock Mining Inc.
P.O. Box 1118
Virginia City, NV 89440
ComstockMining.com
Corrado De Gasperis
Executive Chairman & CEO
Tel (775) 847-4755
degasperis@comstockmining.com  
Zach Spencer
Director of External Relations
Tel (775) 847-5272 Ext.151
questions@comstockmining.com

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