Due to the nature of our business, we are required to make estimates that affect the amount of assets and liabilities, revenues and expenses, commitments and contingencies we report. We base our estimates on our experience, our best judgment, guidelines established by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum and on assumptions we believe are reasonable.
We believe the following critical accounting estimates reflect the more significant judgments used in the preparation of our financial statements.
Decommissioning and reclamation
We are required to estimate the cost of decommissioning and reclamation for each operation, but we normally do not incur these costs until an asset is nearing the end of its useful life. Regulatory requirements and decommissioning methods could change during that time, making our actual costs different from our estimates. A significant change in these costs or in our mineral reserves could have a material impact on our net earnings and financial position.
Property, plant and equipment
We depreciate property, plant and equipment primarily using the unit-of-production method, where the carrying value is reduced as resources are depleted. A change in our mineral reserves would change our depreciation expenses, and such a change could have a material impact on amounts charged to earnings.
We assess the carrying values of property, plant and equipment and goodwill every year, or more often if necessary. If we determine that we cannot recover the carrying value of an asset or goodwill, we write off the unrecoverable amount against current earnings. We base our assessment of recoverability on assumptions and judgments we make about future prices, production costs, our requirements for sustaining capital and our ability to economically recover mineral reserves. A material change in any of these assumptions could have a significant impact on the potential impairment of these assets.
In performing impairment assessments of long-lived assets, assets that cannot be assessed individually are grouped together into the smallest group of assets that generates cash inflows that are largely independent of the cash inflows from other assets or groups of assets. Management is required to exercise judgment in identifying these cash generating units.
When we are preparing our financial statements, we estimate taxes in each jurisdiction we operate in, taking into consideration different tax rates, non-deductible expenses, valuation of deferred tax assets, changes in tax laws and our expectations for future results.
We base our estimates of deferred income taxes on temporary differences between the assets and liabilities we report in our financial statements, and the assets and liabilities determined by the tax laws in the various countries we operate in. We record deferred income taxes in our financial statements based on our estimated future cash flows, which includes estimates of non-deductible expenses. If these estimates are not accurate, there could be a material impact on our net earnings and financial position.
Pension, post-retirement and post-employment benefits
The carrying value of pensions, other post-retirement and other post-employment benefit obligations is based on actuarial valuations that are sensitive to assumptions concerning discount rates, wage increase rates, and other actuarial assumptions used. Changes in these assumptions could result in a material impact to the consolidated financial statements.
Controls and procedures
We have evaluated the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2013, as required by the rules of the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Canadian Securities Administrators.
Management, including our CEO and our CFO, supervised and participated in the evaluation, and concluded that our disclosure controls and procedures are effective to provide a reasonable level of assurance that the information we are required to disclose in reports we file or submit under securities laws is recorded, processed, summarized and reported accurately, and within the time periods specified. It should be noted that, while the CEO and CFO believe that our disclosure controls and procedures provide a reasonable level of assurance that they are effective, they do not expect the disclosure controls and procedures or internal control over financial reporting to be capable of preventing all errors and fraud. A control system, no matter how well conceived or operated, can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurance that the objectives of the control system are met.
Management, including our CEO and our CFO, is responsible for establishing and maintaining internal control over financial reporting and conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting based on the Internal Control — Integrated Framework (1992) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. Based on this evaluation, management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2013. We have not made any change to our internal control over financial reporting during the 2013 fiscal year that has materially affected, or is reasonably likely to materially affect, our internal control over financial reporting.
Amended and restated Bylaws
Our board has approved amended and restated bylaws for the corporation, which are now in effect, to replace bylaws approved in October 2013. Our shareholders will be asked to approve these bylaws at our 2014 annual and special meeting of shareholders. The amended and restated bylaws reflect our current practices and recommended best practices, and include an advance notice bylaw. The amended and restated bylaws will be available on our website, SEDAR and EDGAR.
The advance notice bylaw provides a transparent, structured and fair process for nominating directors under which all shareholders, whether voting by proxy or attending a meeting to elect directors, are made aware of potential proxy contests in advance of the meeting. Among other things, the advance notice bylaw fixes a deadline of not less than 30 days and not more than 65 days before a meeting of shareholders by which nominations for directors must be submitted to the corporation. We believe our shareholders should be given sufficient information and time to make appropriate decisions on the election of board representatives.
New standards and interpretations not yet adopted
A number of new standards, interpretations and amendments to existing standards are not yet effective for the year ended December 31, 2013, and have not been applied in preparing the consolidated financial statements. The following standards, amendments to and interpretations of existing standards have been published and are mandatory for our accounting periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014, unless otherwise noted.
In October 2010, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) issued IFRS 9, Financial Instruments (IFRS 9). In November 2013, the IASB issued a new general hedge accounting standard, which forms part of IFRS 9. The new standard removes the January 1, 2015 effective date of IFRS 9. The new mandatory effective date will be determined once the classification and measurement and impairment phases of IFRS 9 are finalized.
This standard is part of a wider project to replace IAS 39, Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement (IAS 39). IFRS 9 replaces the current multiple classification and measurement models for financial assets and liabilities with a single model that has only two classification categories: amortized cost and fair value. The basis of classification depends on the entity’s business model and the contractual cash flow characteristics of the financial asset or liability. It also introduces additional changes relating to financial liabilities and aligns hedge accounting more closely with risk management. The mandatory effective date is not yet determined; however, early adoption of the new standard is still permitted. We do not intend to early adopt IFRS 9 in our financial statements for the annual period beginning January 1, 2014. The extent of the impact of adoption of IFRS 9 has not yet been determined.
Financial assets and financial liabilities
In December 2011, the IASB issued amendments to IAS 32, Financial Instruments: Presentation (IAS 32). The amendment is effective for periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014 and is to be applied retrospectively. The amendment clarifies matters regarding offsetting financial assets and financial liabilities as well as related disclosure requirements. We intend to adopt the amendments to IAS 32 in our financial statements for the annual period beginning January 1, 2014 and we do not expect the amendments to have a material impact on our financial statements.
In May 2013, the IASB issued International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC) 21, Levies. IFRIC 21 is effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014 and is to be applied retrospectively. IFRIC 21 provides guidance on accounting for levies in accordance with IAS 37, Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets. The interpretation defines a levy as an outflow from an entity imposed by a government in accordance with legislation and confirms that an entity recognizes a liability for a levy only when the triggering event specified in the legislation occurs. We intend to adopt IFRIC 21 in our financial statements for the annual period beginning January 1, 2014. The extent of the impact of adoption of IFRIC 21 has not yet been determined.
Disclosure of recoverable amounts
In May 2013, the IASB issued amendments to IAS 36 – Impairment of Assets (IAS 36). The amendments in IAS 36 are effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2014 and are to be applied retrospectively. The amendments reverse the unintended requirement in IFRS 13 to disclose the recoverable amount of every cash-generating unit to which significant goodwill or indefinite-lived intangible assets have been allocated. Under these amendments, the recoverable amount is required to be disclosed only when an impairment loss has been recognized or reversed. We intend to adopt the amendments to IAS 36 in our financial statements for the annual period beginning January 1, 2014. As the amendments impact certain disclosure requirements only, we do not expect the amendments to have a material impact on our financial statements.