For 2018, Hecla Mining Co. announced preliminary silver and gold production of 10.4 million ounces (oz) and 262,103 oz, respectively. The company’s silver production fell 17% compared to 2017. The gold figure, an increase of 13% over 2017, was a new record for the company and translates to a silver equivalent production of 43.6 million oz. The company also produced 20,091 tons of lead and 56,023 tons of zinc.
“The economic engine and the company’s two largest mines, Greens Creek and Casa Berardi, continue to perform strongly and generate significant cash flow,” said Phil Baker, president and CEO, Hecla Mining Co. “Their performance is a direct result of our investments, which have enabled record-setting throughput.”
“We continue to focus on increasing the development rate in Nevada rather than production, with the goal of setting Fire Creek up for more consistent and higher production in the future,” Baker said.
The Greens Creek mine in Alaska produced 8 million oz of silver and 51,493 oz of gold in 2018. While silver production was lower than 2017 due to the expected lower grades, the company said silver production was still on the high end of the estimates. The mill operated at an average of 2,316 tons per day (t/d) in 2018, a record for the mine.
In Quebec, Casa Berardi produced 162,743 oz of gold in 2018, including 32,096 oz from the East Mine Crown Pillar pit. For the fourth quarter, 35,864 oz of gold were produced, including 4,848 oz from the East Mine Crown Pillar pit. The mine produced as expected, with an increase of 6,090 oz compared to 2017. The mill operated at a record of 3,791 t/d in 2018 compared to 3,551 t/d in 2017 and about 1,800 t/d more than at acquisition.
The San Sebastian mine in Durango, Mexico, produced 2 million oz of silver and 14,979 oz of gold in 2018. The mill operated at an average of 429 t/d in 2018.
Hecla Mining has produced 32,888 oz of gold and 172,301 oz of silver at the newly acquired Nevada operations since the acquisition in July. The company said it is focused on reorganizing the assets and increasing the rate of development, rather than production. For the fourth quarter, 19,099 oz of gold and 88,156 oz of silver were produced. During that period, ore was processed at an average of 710 t/d.
Production at the Lucky Friday mine in Idaho totaled 169,040 oz for 2018. The strike by union miners continues and salaried staff produced a limited amount of silver while making some capital improvements.