First Majestic Silver reports that construction of the 4,000-mt/d, dual-circuit mill at its Del Toro silver mine project in Zacatecas state, Mexico, remains on schedule for first-phase production to begin in the fourth quarter of 2012. Through the first half of 2013, the mill is scheduled to process only sulphide ore through the flotation circuit at a rate of about 1,000 mt/d.

Phase two at Del Toro, from the second half of 2013 through 2017, calls for processing of 2,000 mt/d of sulphide ore through the flotation circuit and 2,000 mt/d of oxide ore through the cyanide-leach circuit. Phase three, in 2018, is scheduled to process 4,000 mt/d of sulphide ore via flotation. During 2014, the production rate is expected to reach about 9.7 million oz/y of silver equivalent—i.e., 6.7 million oz/y of silver, 39.4 million lb/y of lead, and 39.3 million lb/y of zinc.

First Majestic CEO and President Keith Neumeyer said, “Our greatest challenge with the Del Toro project is keeping ahead of reporting the rapid growth in the underground resources. As we continue to drill and further define the resources, we anticipate it will be necessary to file yet another technical report by the end of this year.”

Capital costs of development are estimated at $124.1 million, total operating costs at $34.96/mt, and cash costs of silver production at $7.32/oz including byproducts. Mine life currently is estimated at 6.5 years.

The company currently has three producing silver mines in Mexico: La Encantada in Coahuila state, La Parrilla in Durango state, and San Martin in Jalisco state. In 2011, these mines produced 7.2 million oz of silver, excluding byproducts.

In early April 2012, First Majestic announced plans for an agreed acquisition of Silvermex Resources, which operates the La Guitarra mine in Mexico state, 130 km southwest of Mexico City. In 2011, La Guitarra produced 438,953 oz of silver and 4,293 oz of gold. The mine’s 2012 production is expected to increase to about 500,000 oz of silver and 5,000 oz of gold.

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