Latin American miner Sierra Metals achieved strong production results in 2018, continuing a ten-year track record of consolidated yearly ore throughput growth, as well as record quarterly ore throughput at both its Bolivar copper and Cusi silver mines, in Mexico.
This is according to the company’s 2018 fourth quarter and full-year production results from its three underground mines in Latin America: the Yauricocha polymetallic mine in Peru, and the Bolivar and Cusi mines.
The company achieved record consolidated quarterly ore throughput during the fourth quarter.
Metal production at Yauricocha increased by 14% in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier, owing to 5% higher ore throughput, higher head grades of all metals, except zinc, and higher lead and gold recoveries.
At Bolivar, 20% higher ore throughput, and higher silver and gold head grades resulted in a 16% increase in copper-equivalent pounds produced in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared with the fourth quarter of 2017.
The Cusi mine realised a 258% increase in throughput, which resulted in a 70% year-on-year increase in silver-equivalent ounces produced during the final quarter of 2018.
During 2018, the yearly consolidated production of silver, copper, zinc and gold increased 17%, 27%, 1% and 25%, respectively, while yearly consolidated lead production decreased 7% compared to 2017.
“I am very pleased with the company’s strong fourth-quarter production results, which contributed to a solid year of production in 2018. The company continues to reap the benefits of the successful operational improvement programs at all mines,” Sierra Metals president and CEO Igor Gonzales commented in a statement on Thursday.
The company has completed expansion work at the Bolivar mine and is ramping up to 3 600 t/d, while also implementing a throughput expansion at Cusi to 1 200 t/d/.
Sierra Metals also completed all the necessary work and has submitted all of the required documentation to the authorities in Peru for its Yauricocha mine and expects to receive its environmental-impact assessment permit shortly.
Moreover, the company has almost completed updated life-of-mine plans, and is working to complete prefeasibility and feasibility studies, based on the encouraging preliminary economic assessment results released for all three mines, demonstrating positive economics, and supporting the potential for future important production expansions.
At Yauricocha, during the quarter under review, the company completed the refurbishment of the lower part of the Mascota shaft, as well as the infrastructure and tie-ins for the Yauricocha tunnel, allowing for faster turnaround in the cycle time of the trolley locomotives, and providing for increased capacity and handling of larger volumes of ore and waste.
Tonnage through the tunnel can be ramped up further as larger locomotives and ore cars are added in the future.
In the first quarter of 2019, shaft sinking will continue at Yauricocha to the 1 270 level to provide access to further reserves and resources at the mine, while loading pockets will be added later this year on the 1 210 level.
Also, work will start on a ramp connecting the 920 level with the 720 level at Yauricocha providing for an additional 10 000 t/m of increased capacity to move ore and waste from the mine.
The company’s 2019 cost and capital expenditure guidance will be provided in February as the planning and costing of various capital projects, which have been recently added or modified, are currently being completed.