TAMPA, Fla., March 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (NASDAQ:OMEX), a pioneer in the field of deep-ocean exploration and project development, reported results for the full year ended December 31, 2019, and provided an update on current projects and future plans.
“In spite of the world-wide changes taking place due to COVID-19, the Odyssey team remains fully engaged in moving projects forward while working remotely,” stated Mark Gordon, Odyssey Chairman and CEO.
“Over our 25-year history, Odyssey’s business plan has always focused on developing high-value assets in the deep ocean that have the potential to deliver asymmetric returns to our investors. As such, our stock value has historically been uncorrelated to the general market,” stated Gordon. “We currently have three significant seafloor mineral projects in various stages of development for critically important resources including; phosphate, cobalt, nickel, copper, rare earths and gold. Our team is hard at work advancing the value creation of these projects and we have the real potential for significant progress in one or more of these assets that we hope to be able to report upon soon.”
“Our prime focus remains bringing our Exploraciones Oceánicas Phosphate Project into production for the benefit of both our shareholders and the people of Mexico,” Gordon continued. “This project holds the key to helping President Andrés Manuel López Obrador realize his stated vision of achieving fertilizer independence and food security for Mexico. Given the current pandemic and recent drop in oil prices with the resulting devaluation of the Mexican Peso, the realization of President López Obrador’s vision for fertilizer independence is more important now than ever.”
“While productive talks with senior leaders in Mexico to develop a mutually beneficial outcome for this project continue, Odyssey must pursue the NAFTA case launched last April to protect shareholder rights on the phosphate project. The Arbitral Tribunal, consisting of three international arbitrators well-versed in international investment treaties, has been constituted and the parties are now in the process of finalizing the arbitration schedule and procedures with the Tribunal”, Gordon explained. “We have been working and will continue to work with the legal team on the preparation of the First Memorial, which we expect to file in the second quarter. This is the filing that lays out our case, witnesses and evidence for the Tribunal and at the present time we have been advised that we should not expect any impact to our planned filing date due to the pandemic.
“We intend to continue to work diligently and in good faith with Mexico’s current administration to achieve an equitable resolution of this dispute and to help Mexico provide fertilizer to its farmers, but we are prepared to proceed with the full NAFTA arbitration process if necessary, and have recently received increased litigation funding specifically to support this case.”
Additional information about the NAFTA case is available at www.odysseymarine.com/NAFTA and additional information about the deposit is available at www.exploracionesoceanicas.mx.
Odyssey’s subsidiary, Exploraciones Oceanicas, S. de R.L. de C.V. (ExO), holds a 50-year mining license on an area in Mexico’s Exclusive Economic Zone that contains one of the largest and most important phosphate deposits to be discovered in the world. On the basis of substantial exploratory and coring activity, independent experts estimate the deposit to contain at least 588 million tonnes (measured, indicated and inferred) of phosphate ore - enough to supply the fertilizer needs of North America for 100+ years. It is believed the resource estimate will dramatically increase when further coring is completed as some prior cores ended in full mineralization and additional areas of the license area have not been fully sampled. The deposit is at a depth of 70-90 meters and is 25-40 kilometers from the coast of Mexico. With little to no overburden, the phosphate ore can be recovered using existing dredging technology that has been used in Mexico for over 20 years.
“In addition to moving full speed ahead on the NAFTA case, we’re also continuing to develop new subsea mineral deposits. We’re planning offshore operations in 2020 on our Lihir Offshore Gold Deposit to acquire data that will be used in the production of a resource estimate, environmental impact assessment and eventual mining plan,” explained John Longley, Odyssey President and COO. “We have high expectations for this project due to earlier work conducted by Odyssey in the area and its close proximity and adjacency to one of the world’s highest producing gold deposits currently being mined on Lihir Island by one of the world’s largest gold mining companies, Newcrest Mining.”
Odyssey owns approximately 80% of Bismarck Mining Corporation LTD (PNG), the company that holds an exclusive exploration license covering approximately 320 square kilometers of subsea area off Lihir Island. This license area contains at least five prospective exploration targets in two different mineralization types: seamount-related epithermal and modern placer gold.
Previous exploration expeditions in the license area, including a survey conducted by Odyssey, indicate a polymetallic resource with commercially viable grade gold content may exist. Additionally, the two subsea debris fields within the area and adjacent to the terrestrial Ladolam epithermal gold deposit are believed to have originated from the same volcanogenic source that is currently being mined on Lihir.
“While pushing forward on our business plan, we are also carefully managing expenses and cashflow. While expenses look higher comparing 2019 to 2018, the cash required was reduced. Nearly four million dollars in expenses related to NAFTA was funded through our $10 million litigation funding agreement and nearly one million of the difference related to a gain from a one-time equipment sale in 2018,” Gordon noted.
“We will continue to manage cash and secure funding to the minimum extent necessary to reach a settlement or award in the NAFTA case as we expect that will bring a significant increase in Odyssey’s valuation. Odyssey has a long-proven history of successfully funding our business through many different market conditions and we also have various opportunities to fund additional development of our projects,” continued Gordon. “Our strategy includes monetizing small percentages of our project ownership at various stages of development and we also have the potential of a multi-million dollar payment to Odyssey in 2020 relating to a previously completed shipwreck recovery.”
Odyssey is also continuing to provide a range of offshore services on several strategically significant deep-ocean projects. These activities generate a combination of cash inflows, debt reduction and project equity accumulation.
2019 Financial Results
Total revenue in 2019 was $3.1 million, a $0.2 million decrease from 2018. The $0.2 million decrease is comprised of a $0.3 million increase in increased marine mineral support services for CIC and an increase in other marine services offset by a $0.5 million reduction related to Magellan’s offshore marine services. CIC is a mineral development company working in the South Pacific.
Marketing, general and administrative expenses decreased $0.2 million from $5.7 million in 2018 to $5.5 million in 2019. This net decrease of $0.2 million was primarily due to (i) a net decrease of $0.8 million in personnel expenses attributable to regular, incentive and share-based compensation, (ii) an increase of $0.9 million of equity-based director compensation at the corporate and subsidiary level (the corporate directors did not receive any cash compensation in 2018), (iii) a $0.1 million decrease in corporate legal support and professional services and (iv) a $0.2 million allocated reduction of corporate overhead support.
Operations and research expenses were $7.9 million in 2019 compared to $3.7 million for the same period in 2018. The variance of $4.2 million was primarily due to (i) a $3.7 million increase in legal related support of our NAFTA arbitration with the government of Mexico to assure the fair treatment of our foreign investment, (ii) reductions of $0.1 million and $0.3 million in operational support services and depreciation, respectively, and (iii) a $0.9 million gain on sale of marine equipment that occurred in 2018, but not in 2019.
The net loss for 2019 was $10.4 million or $ 1.12 per share.
Consolidated financial statements as well as Odyssey's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the period ended December 31, 2019, are available on the company's website at www.odysseymarine.com as well as at www.sec.gov.
About Odyssey Marine Exploration
Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (Nasdaq:OMEX) is engaged in deep-ocean exploration using innovative methods and state-of-the-art technology to provide access to critical resources worldwide. Our core focus is the discovery, development and extraction of deep-ocean minerals. Odyssey also provides marine services for private clients and governments. For additional details, please visit www.odysseymarine.com.
Forward Looking Information
Odyssey Marine Exploration believes the information set forth in this Press Release may include "forward looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Act of 1934. Certain factors that could cause results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements are set forth in "Risk Factors" in Part I, Item 1A of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 30, 2020. The financial and operating projections as well as estimates of mining assets are based solely on the assumptions developed by Odyssey that it believes are reasonable based upon information available to Odyssey as of the date of this release. All projections and estimates are subject to material uncertainties and should not be viewed as a prediction or an assurance of actual future performance. The validity and accuracy of Odyssey's projections will depend upon unpredictable future events, many of which are beyond Odyssey's control and, accordingly, no assurance can be given that Odyssey's assumptions will prove true or that its projected results will be achieved.
Cautionary Note to U.S. Investors
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) permits mining companies, in their filings with the SEC, to disclose only those mineral deposits that a company can economically and legally extract or produce. We use certain terms in this press release, such as "measured", "indicated," "inferred" and "resources," which the SEC guidelines strictly prohibit us from including in our filings with the SEC. "Inferred mineral resources" have a great amount of uncertainty as to their existence, and great uncertainty as to their economic and legal feasibility. It cannot be assumed that all or any part of an inferred mineral resource will ever be upgraded to a higher category. U.S. investors are cautioned not to assume that part or all of the inferred mineral resource exists, or is economically or legally mineable, and are urged to consider closely the disclosures in our Form 10-K which may be secured from us or from the SEC's website at http://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml.
Laura BartonOdyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.