The silver/gold vein systems of the Veta Madre at Guanajuato were discovered as early as 1548. At their peak of production in the 18th century these systems were responsible for one third of the world’s silver output. Today the Guanajuato area and its prolific, high grade silver/gold vein systems are still one of the most prolific silver producing regions of the world.
According to a survey conducted by The Fraser Institute, Mexico is among the top 20 most attractive regions in the world for exploration and mining. A strong mining culture, excellent geology, political stability and favorable tax and permitting structures all combine to create major appeal for mining companies. Non-Mexican companies can maintain 100% ownership of their properties and reap the full benefits of successful exploration and project development for their shareholders.
Great Panther Silver (TSX – GPR) has two operating mines in Mexico and is on the prowl for further acquisitions. GPR is one of the fastest growing primary silver producers in Mexico with strong leverage to future rises in the price of silver. The centerpiece of the Company's operations is the world class Guanajuato Silver-Gold Mine in the state of Guanajuato.
Great Panther also owns and operates the Topia Silver-Lead-Zinc Mine in Durango State. The Company has increased production to a new all time high and is growing the resource base through continued surface drilling and underground development.
Great Panther Silver Ltd. has provided its fourth-quarter and annual 2014 production results at its two wholly owned Mexican silver mining operations -- the Guanajuato mine complex, which includes the new San Ignacio satellite mine, and the Topia mine.
2014 Operations Highlights (Compared to 2013):
- Achieved record metal production of 3,187,832 silver equivalent ounces ("Ag eq oz"), a 12% increase
- Silver production increased 11% to a record 1,906,645 silver ounces ("Ag oz")
- Gold production rose 5% to an annual record of 16,461 gold ounces ("Au oz")
- Ore processed increased 18% to a record 335,199 tonnes
Fourth Quarter 2014 Operations Highlights (Compared to Fourth Quarter 2013):
- Metal production increased 19% to a record 911,048 Ag eq oz
- Silver production was up 13% to 550,010 Ag oz
- Gold production rose 24% to a record 4,822 Au oz
- Ore processed increased 33% to a quarterly record of 92,574 tonnes
"After a difficult start to the year, our team did an outstanding job of recovering and delivering record silver and gold production in 2014," stated Robert Archer, President & CEO. "We successfully brought the San Ignacio Mine into production this past year and discovered further high grade silver-gold mineralization there in the fourth quarter. We will be focusing on this area in 2015 and expect San Ignacio to play an increasingly important role in our overall growth. Topia also delivered strong and consistent operating results throughout 2014. Going forward, we will continue to focus on operational efficiencies and grade control with the objective of further optimizing our mining operations and reducing production costs."
Guanajuato Mine Complex
In the fourth quarter of 2014, ore processed at the GMC increased 38%, to 76,839 tonnes compared to the same period in 2013. Metal production for the quarter was a record 677,316 Ag eq oz and represented an increase of 22% compared to the same period in the prior year. This growth was primarily due to the ramp up in production from the San Ignacio Mine.
The San Ignacio Mine produced 18,373 tonnes of ore in the fourth quarter of 2014 and accounted for 20% of the overall metal production from the Guanajuato Mine Complex. This included 64,400 Ag oz and 1,136 Au oz, or 132,594 Ag eq oz, representing a 28% increase compared to the third quarter of 2014.
Silver and gold grades were lower at the GMC in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. This was attributed to San Ignacio silver grades which were lower than the average from the rest of the GMC, and lower gold grades from the Santa Margarita zone at Guanajuato. In 2015, production at San Ignacio will focus on the newly identified, higher grade southern extension of the Intermediate vein.
Mining commenced late in the fourth quarter from recently developed ore zones at the Santa Margarita area that are supported by encouraging results from a combination of underground drilling and exploration development. In addition, exploration development and underground drilling was carried out at the Cata area on the 525 and 540 metre levels, verifying drilling results and exploring the depth extensions of the Veta Madre. Surface exploration drilling at San Ignacio comprised 3,728 metres for the fourth quarter of 2014.
In the fourth quarter of 2014 ore processed at Topia increased 12%, to 15,735 tonnes, compared to the corresponding quarter in 2013. Total metal production also increased 12% compared to the same period in 2013, to 233,732 Ag eq oz, mainly due to the difference in base metal versus silver prices year over year.
Production at Topia originated mainly from the Durangueno, Argentina and Hormiguera mines. Due to the lower silver grades realized in Q4, more emphasis on targeted mining techniques is being employed for 2015 in order to reduce dilution.
Production at San Ignacio is scheduled to continue to increase in 2015 as the focus shifts to the new high grade and thicker vein zones to the south of the current workings. This, in addition to a continuing effort to improve grades at the main Guanajuato mines and at Topia, is expected to deliver 3.5 to 3.6 million Ag eq oz(2) in 2015. This represents an approximate 10% increase over 2014, including a small impact from the change in ratios to determine Ag eq oz to account for the movement in metal prices over the past year. Consolidated cash costs are anticipated to be in the range of US$11.50-12.50/oz of payable silver, while All-In Sustaining Costs are projected to be US$18.50-19.85/oz of payable silver. Naturally, the Company will strive to achieve costs which are lower than guidance.
(1) Silver equivalent ounces for 2014 were maintained at consistent prices
of US$18.50 per oz, US$1,110 per oz (60:1 ratio), US$0.90 per lb and US$0.85
per lb for silver, gold, lead & zinc, respectively, and applied to the
recovered metal content of the concentrates produced.
(2) Silver equivalent ounces for 2015 guidance have been calculated using a 65:1 Au:Ag ratio, and ratios of 1:0.05 and 1:0.056 for the US dollar price of silver ounces to the US dollar price for lead and zinc pounds, respectively. These ratios will be applied consistently for the reporting of silver equivalent ounce production for 2015.