SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
USE OF ESTIMATES
Preparation of our consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that can affect reported amounts of assets, liabilities, deferred tax liabilities, and expenses. The more significant areas requiring the use of estimates include asset impairments, valuation of convertible debentures, stock based compensation, depreciation and amortization of assets, and site reclamation and closure accruals. Accounting for these areas is subject to estimates and assumptions regarding, among other things, ore reserves, gold recoveries, future gold prices, future operating costs, asset usage rates, and future mining activities. Management bases its estimates on historical experience and on other assumptions we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances. However, actual results may differ from our estimates.
CASH AND CASH EQUIVALENTS
Cash includes cash deposits in any currency residing in checking accounts, money market funds and sweep accounts. Cash equivalents consist of highly liquid investments purchased with maturities of three months or less. Investments with maturities greater than three months and up to one year are classified as short-term investments, while those with maturities in excess of one year are classified as long-term investments. Cash equivalents and short-term investments are stated at cost, which typically approximates market value.
Inventory classifications include “stockpiled ore,” “in-process inventory,” “finished goods inventory” and “materials and supplies.” All of our inventories, except materials and supplies, are recorded at the lower of weighted average cost or market. The stated value of all production inventories include direct production costs and attributable overhead and depreciation incurred to bring the materials to their current point in the processing cycle. General and administrative costs for corporate offices are not included in any inventories.
Stockpiled ore represents coarse ore that has been extracted from the mine and is waiting processing. Stockpiled ore is measured by estimating the number of tonnes (via truck counts or by physical surveys) added to, or removed from the stockpile, the number of contained ounces (based on assay data) and estimated gold recovery percentage. Stockpiled ore value is based on the costs incurred (including depreciation and amortization) in bringing the ore to the stockpile. Costs are added to the stockpiled ore based on current mining costs per tonne and are removed at the average cost per tonne of ore in the stockpile.
In-process inventory represents material that is currently being treated in the processing plants to extract the contained gold and to transform it into a saleable product. The amount of gold in the in-process inventory is determined by assay and by measure of the quantities of the various gold-bearing materials in the recovery process. The in-process gold is valued at the average of the beginning inventory and the cost of material fed into the processing stream plus in-process conversion costs including applicable mine-site overhead, depreciation and amortization related to the processing facilities.
Finished goods inventory is composed of saleable gold in the form of doré bars that have been poured but not yet shipped from the mine site. The bars are valued at the lower of total cost or net realizable value. Included in the total costs are the direct costs of the mining and processing operations as well as direct mine-site overhead, amortization and depreciation.
Material and supply inventories consist mostly of equipment parts, fuel, lubricants and reagents consumed in the mining and ore processing activities. Materials and supplies are valued at the lower of average cost or net realizable value.
ORE RESERVE QUANTITIES USED IN UNITS-OF-PRODUCTION AMORTIZATION
Gold ounces contained in stockpiled ore are excluded from total reserves when determining units-of-production amortization of mining property, asset retirement assets and other assets.
PROPERTY ACQUISITION, EXPLORATION AND DEVELOPMENT COSTS
The initial acquisition costs of exploration and mining properties are capitalized. Subsequent exploration and development costs are expensed as incurred until such time as a feasibility study has been completed which establishes, in compliance with SEC Industry Standard Guide 7, that proven and probable reserves exist on the property. After proven and probable reserves have been established, subsequent exploration and development costs are capitalized until such time as a property is placed in-service. Following a property's in-service date, accumulated capitalized acquisition, exploration and development costs are reclassified as Mining Property assets and are subject to amortization on a units-of-production basis when metal production begins.
PROPERTY, PLANT AND EQUIPMENT
Property, plant and equipment assets, including machinery, processing equipment, mining equipment, mine site facilities, buildings, vehicles and expenditures that extend the life of such assets, are recorded at cost including acquisition and installation costs. The costs of self-constructed assets include direct construction costs, direct overhead and allocated interest during the construction phase. Indirect overhead costs are not included in the cost of self-constructed assets. Depreciation for mobile equipment and other assets having estimated lives shorter than the estimated life of the ore reserves is calculated using the straight-line method at rates which depreciate the cost of the assets, less their anticipated residual values, if any, over their estimated useful lives. Mobile mining equipment is amortized over a five year life. Assets, such as processing plants, power generators and buildings, which have an estimated life equal to or greater than the estimated life of the ore reserves, are amortized over the life of the proven and probable reserves of the associated mining property using a units-of-production amortization method. The net book value of property, plant and equipment assets is charged against income if the mine site is abandoned and it is determined that the assets cannot be economically transferred to another project or sold.
Mining property assets, including property acquisition costs, tailings dams, mine-site drilling costs where proven and probable reserves have been established, pre-production waste stripping, condemnation drilling, roads, feasibility studies and wells are recorded at cost. The costs of self-constructed assets include direct construction costs, direct overhead and allocated interest during the construction phase. Indirect overhead costs are not included in the cost of self-constructed assets. Ore control drilling costs incurred during the production phase are allocated to inventory costs and then included in cost of sales.
Mining property assets typically have an estimated life equal to or greater than the estimated life of an ore reserves and are amortized over the life of the proven and probable reserves to which they relate, using a units-of-production amortization method. At open pit mines the costs of removing overburden from an ore body in order to expose ore during its initial development period are capitalized.
IMPAIRMENT OF LONG-LIVED ASSETS
We review and evaluate our long-lived assets for impairment at least annually and also when events or changes in circumstances indicate the related carrying amounts may not be recoverable. An asset impairment is considered to exist if an asset's recoverable value is less than its carrying value as recorded on our Consolidated Balance Sheet. In most cases, an asset's recoverable value is assumed to be equal to the sum of the asset's expected future cash flows on an undiscounted basis. If the sum of the undiscounted future cash flows does not exceed the asset's carrying value, an impairment loss is measured and recorded based on discounted estimated future cash flows from the asset. Future cash flows are based on estimated quantities of gold and other recoverable metals, expected price of gold (considering current and historical prices, price trends and related factors), production levels and cash costs of production, capital and reclamation costs, all based on detailed engineering life-of-mine plans.
In estimating future cash flows, assets are grouped at the lowest levels for which there are identifiable cash flows that are largely independent of future cash flows from other asset groups. All assets at a particular operation are considered together for purposes of estimating future cash flows. The carrying amounts of purchase costs of exploration and development projects not yet in service are also evaluated periodically for impairment.
Numerous factors including, but not limited to, unexpected grade changes, gold recovery problems, shortages of equipment and consumables, equipment failures, and collapse of pit walls could impact our ability to achieve forecasted production schedules from proven and probable reserves. Additionally, commodity prices, capital expenditure requirements and reclamation costs could differ from the assumptions used in the cash flow models used to assess impairment. The ability to achieve the estimated quantities of recoverable minerals from exploration stage mineral interests involves further risks in addition to those factors applicable to mineral interests where proven and probable reserves have been identified, due to the lower level of confidence that the identified mineralized material can ultimately be mined economically.
Material changes to any of these factors or assumptions discussed above could result in future impairment charges to operations.
ASSET RETIREMENT OBLIGATIONS
Environmental reclamation and closure liabilities are recognized at the time of environmental disturbance, in amounts equal to the discounted value of expected future reclamation and closure costs. The discounted cost of future reclamation and closure activities is capitalized and amortized over the life of the property. The estimated future cash costs of such liabilities are based primarily upon environmental and regulatory requirements of the various jurisdictions in which we operate. Cash expenditures for environmental remediation and closure are charged as incurred against the accrual.
PROPERTY HOLDING COST
Property holding costs are costs incurred to retain and maintain properties which have been written off but ownership is retained. Such cost are expensed in the period incurred.
FOREIGN CURRENCIES AND FOREIGN CURRENCY TRANSLATION
Our functional currency is the U.S. dollar.
The carrying value of monetary assets and liabilities are translated at the rate of exchange prevailing at the balance sheet date. Non-monetary assets and liabilities are translated at the rates of exchange prevailing when the assets were acquired or the liabilities assumed. Revenue and expense items are translated at the average rate of exchange during the period. Translation gains or losses are included in net earnings for the period.
Canadian currency in these financial statements is denoted as “Cdn$,” European Common Market currency is denoted as “Euro” or “€,” and Ghanaian currency is denoted as “Ghana Cedi” or “Ghana Cedis.”
Income taxes comprise the provision for (or recovery of) taxes actually paid or payable and for deferred taxes. Deferred income taxes are computed using the asset and liability method whereby deferred income tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the expected future tax consequences attributable to temporary differences between the tax basis of assets and liabilities and their reported amounts in the financial statements. Deferred income tax assets and liabilities are computed using enacted income tax rates in effect when the temporary differences are expected to reverse. The effect on the deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in the period of enactment. The provision for or the recovery of deferred taxes is based on the changes in deferred tax assets and liabilities during the period. In estimating deferred tax assets, a valuation allowance is provided to reduce the deferred tax assets to amounts that are more likely than not to be realized.
We deal with uncertainties and judgments in the application of complex tax regulations in the multiple jurisdictions where our properties are located. The amount of taxes paid are dependent upon many factors, including negotiations with taxing authorities in the various jurisdictions and resolution of disputes arising from our international tax audits. We recognize potential liabilities and record tax liabilities for anticipated tax audit issues in our various tax jurisdictions based on our assessment of additional taxes due. We adjust these reserves in light of changing facts and circumstances, however, due to the complexity of some of these uncertainties, the ultimate resolution may result in payment that is materially different from our estimates of our tax liabilities. If our estimate of tax liability proves to be less than the ultimate assessment, an additional charge to expense would result. If the estimate of tax liabilities proves to be greater that the ultimate assessment, a tax benefit is recognized.
A tax benefit from an uncertain tax position may only be recognized if it is more-likely-than-not that the position will be sustained upon examination by the tax authority based on the technical merits of the position. The tax benefit of an uncertain tax position that meets the more-likely-than-not recognition threshold is measured as the largest amount that is greater than 50% likely to be realized upon settlement with the tax authority. To the extent a full benefit is not expected to be realized, an income tax liability is established. Any change in judgment related to the expected resolution of uncertain tax positions are recognized in the year of such a change. Accrued interest and penalties related to unrecognized tax benefits are recorded in income tax expense in the current year.
Ghana imposed a levy on mining companies during 2009, 2010 and 2011, equal to 5% of pre-tax book income as reported in our financial accounting records. This tax was considered a current mine operating tax and was expensed as incurred.
NET INCOME/(LOSS) PER SHARE
Basic income/(loss) per share of common stock is calculated by dividing income available to Golden Star's common shareholders by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the period. In periods with earnings, the calculation of diluted net income per common share uses the treasury stock method to compute the dilutive effects of stock options, and other dilutive instruments. In periods of loss, diluted net income per share is equal to basic income per share.
Revenue from the sale of metal is recognized when there is persuasive evidence that an arrangement exists, the price is determinable, the metal has been delivered, title and risk of ownership has passed to the buyer and collection is reasonably assured. All of our gold is transported to a South African gold refiner who locates a buyer and arranges for sale of our gold on the same day that the gold is shipped from the mine site. The sales price is based on the London P.M. fix on the day of shipment. Title and risk of ownership pass to the buyer on the day doré is shipped from the mine sites.
STOCK BASED COMPENSATION
Under the Company's stock option plan, common share options may be granted to executives, employees, consultants and non-employee directors. Compensation expense for such grants is recorded in the Consolidated Statements of Operations as a component of general and administrative expense, with a corresponding increase recorded in the Contributed Surplus account in the Consolidated Balance Sheets. The expense is based on the fair values of the option at the time of grant and is recognized over the vesting periods of the respective options. Consideration paid to the company on exercise of options is credited to share capital.
Under the Company's Deferred Share Unit ("DSU") plan, DSUs may be granted to executive officers and/or directors. Compensation expense for such grants is recorded in the Consolidated Statements of Operations as a component of general and administrative expense, with a corresponding increase recorded in the Contributed Surplus account in the Consolidated Balance Sheets. The expense is based on the fair values at the time of grant and is recognized over the vesting periods of the respective DSU. Upon exercise the Company's compensation committee may, at its discretion, issue cash, shares of a combination thereof.
Leases that transfer substantially all of the benefits and risks of ownership to the Company are recorded as capital leases and classified as property, plant and equipment with a corresponding amount recorded with current and long-term debt. All other leases are classified as operating leases under which leasing costs are expensed in the period incurred.
Equity security investments are accounted for as available for sale securities in accordance with ASC guidance on accounting for certain investments in debt and equity securities. Changes in the fair value of available for sale investments are charged or credited to other comprehensive income until the instrument is realized.
The Company periodically evaluates whether declines in fair values of its investments below the Company's carrying value are other-than-temporary in accordance with guidance for the meaning of other-than-temporary impairment and its application to certain investments. The Company also monitors its investments for events or changes in circumstances that have occurred that may have a significant adverse effect on the fair value of the investment and evaluates qualitative and quantitative factors regarding the severity and duration of the unrealized loss and the Company's ability to hold the investment until a forecasted recovery occurs to determine if the decline in value of an investment is other-than-temporary. Declines in fair value below the Company's carrying value deemed to be other-than-temporary are charged to the statement of operations.
The convertible senior unsecured debentures are recorded at fair value in accordance with ASC 825. Changes in fair value are recorded in the statement of operations. Upfront costs and fees related to the convertible debt were recognized in the statement of operations as incurred and not deferred.
At various times we utilize foreign exchange and commodity price derivatives to manage exposure to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates and gold prices, respectively. We do not employ derivative financial instruments for trading purposes or for speculative purposes. Our derivative instruments are recorded on the balance sheet at fair value with changes in fair value recognized in the statement of operations at the end of each period in an account titled “Derivative mark-to-market gain/(loss)”.
OTHER COMPREHENSIVE INCOME (“OCI”)
Components of comprehensive income/loss consist of unrealized gains/(losses) on available-for-sale securities and net income. Unrealized gains or losses on securities are net of any reclassification adjustments for realized gains or losses included in net income.
RECENTLY ADOPTED STANDARDS
In January 2010, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2010-06, “Improving Disclosures about Fair Value Measurements,” which amends Subtopic 820-10 of the FASB Accounting Standards Codification to require new disclosures for fair value measurements and provides clarification for existing disclosure requirements. More specifically, this update required (a) an entity to disclose separately the amounts of significant transfers in and out of Levels 1 and 2 fair value measurements and to describe the reasons for the transfers; and (b) information about purchases, sales, issuances and settlements to be presented separately (i.e. present the activity on a gross basis rather than net) in the reconciliation for fair value measurements using significant unobservable inputs (Level 3 inputs). This update clarified existing disclosure requirements for the level of disaggregation used for classes of assets and liabilities measured at fair value and requires disclosures about the valuation techniques and inputs used to measure fair value for both recurring and nonrecurring fair value measurements using Level 2 and Level 3 inputs. We adopted this new guidance in the first quarter of 2010 and it did not materially expand our consolidated financial statement footnote disclosures.
In April 2010, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2101-12 which amends topic 718 “Compensation-Stock Compensation”. The amendment addresses the classification of an employee share-based payment awards with an exercise price denominated in the currency of a market in which the underlying equity security trades, stating that a share-based award with an exercise price denominated in the currency of a market in which a substantial portion of the entity's equity trades shall not be considered to contain a market, performance, or service condition. Therefore, such an award is not to be classified as a liability if it otherwise qualifies as equity. This new provision is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those years, beginning on or after December 15, 2010. While our stock option plan denominates option strike prices in Canadian dollars, a substantial portion of our common shares trade in Canada and thus this new guidance did not affect our consolidated financial position, cash flows, nor results of operations in 2011.
RECENTLY ISSUED STANDARDS
Presentation of Comprehensive Income: In June 2011, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2011-05, Comprehensive Income (Topic 220)-Presentation of Comprehensive Income (ASU 2011-05), to require an entity to present the total of comprehensive income, the components of net income, and the components of other comprehensive income either in a single continuous statement of comprehensive income or in two separate but consecutive statements. ASU 2011-05 eliminates the option to present the components of other comprehensive income as part of the statement of equity. ASU 2011-05 is effective for us in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 and should be applied retrospectively. Our presentation of comprehensive income already complies with this new guidance.
Amendments to Achieve Common Fair Value Measurement and Disclosure Requirements: In May 2011, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2011-04, Amendments to Achieve Common Fair Value Measurement and Disclosure Requirements in U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards (Topic 820)-Fair Value Measurement (ASU 2011-04), to provide a consistent definition of fair value and ensure that the fair value measurement and disclosure requirements are similar between U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards. ASU 2011-04 changes certain fair value measurement principles and enhances the disclosure requirements particularly for level 3 fair value measurements. ASU 2011-04 is effective for us in 2012 and should be applied prospectively. We do not believe adoption of the new standard will have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements.