Precious Metals

A look at silver companies that planned and achieved production in the first quarter of 2013.

Below, Silver Investing News looks at silver exploration companies that are nearing production and met goals during the first quarter of 2013.

Mexico

SantaCruz Silver Mining (TSXV:SCZ,OTC Pink:SZSMF) has a strategy of focusing on advanced-stage projects and aims to become a mid-tier silver producer. The company marched toward that goal with the start up of its Rosario project in Q1.

Rosario is a high-grade deposit located in Mexico’s historic Charcas mining district in San Luis, Potosi. SantaCruz completed the Rosario mill, which has a capacity of 500 metric tons (MT) per day, on budget in December.

Commissioning at Rosario has commenced, and mill test running has been going since February, Neil MacRae, investor relations manager at SantaCruz, told Silver Investing News. He said an announcement regarding production should be forthcoming shortly.

SantaCruz expects to achieve full production at Rosario by 2014 and should produce over 2 million silver equivalent ounces from the polymetallic deposit.

Last year, IMPACT Silver (TSXV:IPT,OTC Pink:ISVLF) was busy simultaneously developing two mines.

The company reported that initial production at its Cuchara-Oscar mine began in February. Located in the Royal Mines of Zacualpan silver district in Mexico, Cuchara-Oscar is the fourth underground mine the company has discovered and brought to production.

IMPACT expects this mine to be a source of higher-grade mill feed for the 500-MT-per-day Guadalupe processing plant. As this new production will replace lower-grade production from the Chivo mine, the company expects higher production from the Guadalupe plant. IMPACT’s press release notes that the average silver grade at Cuchara-Oscar is expected to be 270 grams per MT.

Capire is IMPACT’s second production center. Located in Guerrero, Mexico, the Capire production center includes the open-pit Capire mine and a pilot processing facility with a 200-MT-per-day flotation circuit. IMPACT announced the start of initial operations at Capire in March. The company sees this site as a growth catalyst.

IMPACT said in a press release that the pilot plant will help to determine future cut-off grades and production costs for a larger processing facility. It will also provide the company with operating cash flow. The initial production being fed to the Capire plant reportedly averages 149 grams per MT of silver. Lower-grade material is being stockpiled. IMPACT expects the first shipment of concentrates later this quarter.

United States

In its interim results, released on March 15, Black Mountain Resources (ASX:BMZ) said that in the coming weeks it will make the transition from being a developer to being a high-grade silver producer. An April 15 update makes the same claim.

The company has a 70-percent interest in two historic mine properties in the US state of Montana and plans to bring both online. New Departure, which was slated for production in Q1, is set to be the company’s first producing mine.

Initial production at New Departure is planned from the Bonanza zone. In the April 15 update, the company said that the drive to access this zone through underground development continues. Once access is gained, Black Mountain intends to take production samples from historic workings for assaying and will finalize arrangements with local mills.

The Conjecture property is slated to come online in Q2, soon after New Departure. Black Mountain said that it has secured the Lakeview mill, located 3 kilometers from Conjecture, which will give it the competitive advantage of having the only permitted mill in the region.

Black Mountain also claims to be in advanced negotiations with prepaid offtake and financing parties. The company notes on its website that its ability to generate cash sets it apart from its peers.

British Columbia

Huldra Silver (TSXV:HDA,OTC Pink:HUSIF) is a fully integrated silver producer that began underground mining at its Treasure Mountain Mine in BC, Canada in March 2012. The company is mining the high-grade polymetallic deposit under a 60,000-MT-per-year small mines permit. Huldra has also begun commissioning its off-site 200-MT-per-day Merritt mill.

The company had set a goal of achieving commercial production in Q1 2013, and hit that goal as of March 26, according to a press release. The company said it continues to see significant monthly increases in production and concentrate shipments. Last month, production was temporarily halted at the mill. Huldra said the work done during this time will increase total utilization of the mill, noting that the company has already begun to introduce higher-quality mill feed.

Huldra received smelter payments of over $1.5 million plus HST in March. This sum includes payments for December and February lots.

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Michelle Smith do not hold equity interests in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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