Silver Standard Resources Inc. (NASD:SSRI) has reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2013 operational update for its Pirquitas mine in Jujuy, Argentina. It has also provided production and cost guidance for 2014.
The mine produced 8.2 million ounces of silver in 2013, down 4.6% year over year from 8.6 million ounces produced in 2012. The decline was mainly due to more oxidized and transitional ore in the mill feed. In the fourth quarter, the mine produced 2.3 million ounces of silver, 12.5% higher than the previous quarter. Higher average head grade and mill throughput led to the sequential increase in silver production in the quarter.
Silver Standard sold 2.5 million ounces of silver at the Pirquitas mine in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 8.7 million ounces of silver in 2013.
Pirquitas mine’s production of 10.3 million pounds of zinc in zinc concentrate in the fourth quarter was the highest in any quarter in the mine’s history. Production was up roughly 31.8% from the previous quarter. The mine produced record 27 million pounds of zinc in zinc concentrate. The results reflected higher zinc grades and improved plant mine recoveries, as the company mined more of the zinc-rich Potosi area of the San Miguel open pit.
Silver Standard milled 420,000 tons of ore at the mine, up 6.6% from the third quarter of 2013. Average rate of ore milled was 4,567 tons per day which is 14.2% above the mill's nominal design.
The mine’s ore milled an average silver grade of 228 g/t, compared to 215 g/t reported in the previous quarter, as the company progressed with completion of the San Miguel Phase 2 open pit transition. Silver recovery averaged 75% in 2013.
Silver Standard expects to produce and sell 8.2 million to 8.6 million ounces of silver and 25 million to 30 million pounds of zinc in 2014. The company further expects the cash costs to be between $12.50 and $13.50 per payable ounce of silver sold in 2014.
Capital expenditures at the Pirquitas mine are expected to be $15 million including $6 million for tailings facility expansions. Exploration and development expenditures are expected to be $22 million including $8.5 million for Mexican projects, $7.5 million for Peru projects and $6 million for Argentina, Canada and the U.S. projects.
Vancouver, Canada-based Silver Standard Resources has assets mainly in the Americas. The company owns and operates the Pirquitas mine, which is one of the largest primary silver mines in the world.
Silver Standard retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Other companies in the silver mining industry with favorable Zacks Rank are Alexco Resource Corp. (AMEX:AXU), Coeur Mining, Inc. (NYSE:CDE) and Hecla Mining (NYSE:HL). While Alexco Resource holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Coeur Mining and Hecla Mining retain a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
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