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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 14, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Majestic Silver Corp. ("First Majestic" or the "Company") is pleased to announce the Company's fourth quarter and full year 2018 production results, as well as production and cost guidance for 2019. The Company's fourth quarter and full year 2018 financial results are scheduled to be released on February 25, 2019.
Total production in 2018 reached 22.2 million equivalent ounces of silver, representing a 37% increase over 2017, and at the upper end of the Company's guidance of 20.5 to 22.6 million silver equivalent ounces. Total production consisted of 11.7 million ounces of silver, 111,084 ounces of gold, 16.1 million pounds of lead and 5.7 million pounds of zinc. Annual silver production was slightly below the Company's guidance of 12.0 to 13.2 million ounces primarily due to lower than expected silver production at La Encantada in 2018. Total production in the fourth quarter of 2018 totaled 6.5 million silver equivalent ounces consisting of 3.3 million ounces of silver, 34,487 ounces of gold, 3.3 million pounds of lead and 1.5 million pounds of zinc.
The Company anticipates 2019 total production (including gold, lead and zinc by-products) will range between 24.7 to 27.5 million silver equivalent ounces including 14.2 to 15.8 million ounces of pure silver. Based on the midpoint of the guidance range the Company expects a 28% increase in silver production and an 18% increase in total production when compared to 2018.
"First Majestic had a record year in 2018 producing 22.2 million silver equivalent ounces following the successful acquisition and integration of the San Dimas Silver/Gold mine," said Keith Neumeyer, President & CEO. "The addition of San Dimas effectively doubled our production profile and total Mexican workforce overnight. Unfortunately, due to falling silver prices in the second half of 2018, we needed to implement various cost cutting measures including placing the La Guitarra mine on care and maintenance, reducing our workforce by approximately 15%, and scaling back capital investments by approximately 20%. These cost cutting measures have been successful and we remain focused on improving margins and will continue to react further if necessary."
"Looking ahead for 2019, we expect to reach another new production record of between 24.5 and 27.5 million silver equivalent ounces along with a much leaner cost profile primarily due to a full year of production from San Dimas, the start-up of the roaster at La Encantada and the installation of high-intensity grinding ("HIG") mills at the Santa Elena and La Encantada operations. The combination of the HIG mill and roaster at La Encantada is extremely encouraging as it has the potential to re-establish the operation as a significant silver producer of 4 to 5 million ounces per year once these mill upgrades are completed."
Production Details Table:
|2018||2017||Change||Consolidated Production Results||2018||2017||Change|
|850,272||736,684||15||%||Ore processed/tonnes milled||3,375,452||2,981,506||13||%|
|6,485,761||4,065,337||60||%||Total production - ounces of silver equivalent||22,243,071||16,207,905||37||%|
|3,250,816||2,337,463||39||%||Silver ounces produced||11,679,452||9,749,591||20||%|
|34,487||17,344||99||%||Gold ounces produced||111,084||62,991||76||%|
|3,294,360||4,271,970||-23||%||Pounds of lead produced||16,135,438||24,522,803||-34||%|
|1,466,812||1,289,031||14||%||Pounds of zinc produced||5,695,657||3,944,232||44||%|
Quarterly Operational Review:
Total ore processed during the quarter at the Company's silver mines amounted to 850,272 tonnes, representing a 2% decrease compared to the previous quarter. The slight decrease in tonnes processed compared to the prior quarter was primarily due to placing the La Guitarra mine on care and maintenance on August 3, 2018.
Consolidated silver grades in the quarter averaged 144 g/t compared to 152 g/t in the previous quarter. This 5% decrease was primarily the result of lower grades at La Parrilla. Consolidated gold grades were relatively unchanged in the quarter averaging 1.31 g/t compared to 1.33 g/t in the prior quarter.
Consolidated silver and gold recoveries averaged 83% and 96% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and consistent with the previous quarter. The Company continues to expect further improvements in recoveries associated with the installation of the microbubble flotation cells and the HIG mills in 2019. The microbubble flotation cells at La Parrilla are expected to be delivered and installed in the first quarter and commissioning to commercial production in the second quarter. In addition, the HIG mill at Santa Elena is expected to be delivered in the first quarter and installed and commissioned in the second quarter of 2019. The Company has also redirected its second HIG mill to La Encantada following very positive metallurgical test results on mineral samples which indicate that grinding ore to sub-50 microns significantly improved silver recoveries even with the presence of high-grade manganese that has historically limited the recovery of silver through the Merrill Crowe process. The La Encantada HIG mill is expected to be installed in the third quarter followed by commissioning in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Mine by Mine Quarterly Production Table: