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Kirkland Lake Gold announces strategic review and board resignation

KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. - Kirkland Lake Gold Inc. (TSX:KGI) said Monday it has launched a strategic review, which it may include the potential sale of assets or an offering of shares.

The sweeping review follows the appointment late last year of George Ogilvie as chief executive and a plan to cut spending and preserve cash.

"The strategic review will encompass a careful evaluation of the company's business plan, development strategy, market valuation and capital structure and will consider various alternatives for the company," Ogilvie said in statement.

The company said the board has appointed a special committee of independent directors to review and evaluate proposals and to make recommendations to the full board.

Kirkland Lake Gold also announced Monday that Brian Hinchcliffe has resigned as deputy chairman and as a member of the board, but will work on the strategic review as a consultant.

Shares in the company tumbled 40 cents or 13.33 per cent to close at $2.60 Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Kirkland Lake owns several gold projects in the southern Abitibi area of northern Ontario including the Macassa mine.

Gold producers were hard hit in 2013 as the price of gold plunged. The price of gold fell 28 per cent last year after hitting a peak of $1,900 in August 2011.

February gold bullion was up $1.90 at US$1,240.50 an ounce on Monday.

Desjardins analyst Adam Melnyk said the company has made a series of announcements in recent months that have "created substantial uncertainty surrounding its near- to medium-term operational outlook."

"With regard to an asset sale, we see the likelihood that a potential acquirer can be found for Macassa to be low, given the asset's history of underperformance and high capital intensity," Melnyk said.

In its outlook, the company has said that production for its current year is likely to be at the lower end of its previously announced guidance for 150,000 to 180,000 ounces of gold.

However, Melnyk suggested the company will struggle to meet its guidance and forecast 132,000 ounces at total cash costs of $1,076 per ounce.

Last month, Kirkland Lake reported a net loss of $3.9 million, or six cents per share, in its second quarter, compared to a loss of $1.8 million, or three cents a share, in the same period the previous year.

The company said it planned to slash spending by implementing a hiring freeze, terminating some staff employment contracts and reduce some drilling.

Kirkland Lake reported an operating cash cost of $1,105 per ounce of gold or $328 per tone of ore for the quarter ended Oct. 31. It has set a goal to cut costs to less than $250 per ton of ore.

The Canadian Press

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