Officials at Silver Standard Resources in announcing 2013 results have reported record zinc production along with significant silver recoveries at their Pirquitas project in Jujuy, Argentina. Overall, Pirquitas produced 2.3 million oz of silver during Q4 2013, a 12.5% quarter-on-quarter improvement reflecting higher average head grade and mill throughput, according to company officials. Last year, they added, the mine produced 8.2 million silver oz, lower than the 8.6 million oz produced in 2012, according to company officials.
But zinc was the big winner. In all, the mine produced 10.3 million lb of zinc in concentrate in Q4 2013, a 31.8% quarter-on-quarter increase and the highest quarterly zinc production result in the mine’s history. In 2013, Pirquitas produced a record 27 million lb of zinc-in-zinc concentrate, reflecting higher grades in an expansion within the mineral-rich Potosi area of the San Miguel open pit, coupled with improved recoveries.
Approximately 420,000 metric tons (mt) of ore were also milled during Q4 2013, meanwhile, over 394,000 mt in Q3 2013, said the company. Ore was milled at 4,567 mt per day (mt/d) in Q3, 14.2% above mill design over a 4,283 mt/d rate in Q3; the Q4 mill processing rate demonstrated the return to average annual mill rates comparable to 2012, said the company.
For this year, Silver Standard officials announced guidance targeting production up to 8.6 million silver oz, and 30 million zinc lb. The company is also forecasting $15 million in capital expenditures at Pirquitas, including $6 million for tailings facility expansions coupled with stripping costs of $5 million.
Silver Standard is also anticipating exploration and development expenditures of $22 million company-wide including $8.5 million in Mexico projects, $7.5 million in Peru assets and $6 million in investments in operations in Argentina, Canada and the U.S.