The cost to build Aurora Sky – one of the biggest cannabis facilities in Canada – has jumped to 150 million Canadian dollars ($115 million), Aurora Cannabis said in a regulatory filing released this week alongside its earnings report.
That’s a substantial increase from May 2017, when the company estimated the cost of the project to be roughly CA$110 million.
The increase highlights the difficulty – and capital burden – facing Canada’s largest marijuana companies as they build massive cultivation facilities to meet demand for the country’s looming recreational cannabis market, which starts Oct. 17.
Alberta-based Aurora also said Sky is on schedule and nearly fully operational. The company anticipates the facility will produce more than 8,000 kilograms of cannabis per month by the beginning of 2019.
Despite the increased cost, Aurora said it expects Sky to pay for itself “in a very short number of months,” assuming average pricing and margins on sales to provinces.
Aurora is constructing other so-called “Sky Class facilities” – Aurora Sun in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and Aurora Nordic in Denmark – which are expected to have combined production capacity of roughly 270,000 kilograms per year when complete.
Aurora’s “Sky Class” facilities are massive-scale, indoor facilities with specialty glass roofs and “closed systems” that enable managers to maintain full control of all environmental variables, the company said.
Aurora said that once the efficiencies from automation, scale and yield expertise are realized, it expects production costs per gram to decrease significantly to “well below CA$1 per gram.”
Five of Sky’s 17 production rooms are licensed and in production, and Aurora anticipates submitting the license applications for the final rooms in November.
Takeaways from Aurora’s fiscal 2018 earnings
- Aurora completed 11 acquisitions, and one is in progress.
- The company said it intends to list its shares on a senior U.S stock exchange.
- Fourth-quarter revenue rose 223% to CA$19.1 million.
- Active registered MMJ patients rose 164% to 43,308 in the quarter
- Revenue rose 206% in fiscal year 2018 to CA$55 million compared to fiscal 2017.
- The number of employees grew to 1,400 from 300 at the end of fiscal year 2017.
Aurora’s shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange as ACB.
Matt Lamers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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