Hecla: 1Q Silver Output Falls Due To Lower Grades, Strike
(Kitco News) - Hecla Mining Co. (NYSE: HL) reports that silver production fell from a year ago in the first quarter largely due to lower grades at some mines and a strike, but gold output inched slightly higher.
Hecla listed preliminary silver production of 3.4 million ounces, which was down from 4.6 million in the same period a year ago. Silver output at the Greens Creek Mine in Alaska slid to 1.9 million ounces from 2.5 million due to a lower grade. At Lucky Friday in Idaho, output fell to 680,782 ounces from 977,084 a year ago, with the company citing a strike by union workers since March 13. Silver production at San Sebastian in Mexico fell to 750,803 ounces from 1.2 million a year ago, with mining in different veins resulting in lower grades.
Meanwhile, Hecla listed first-quarter gold production of 56,113 ounces, which was higher than 55,688 in the same quarter of 2016. The Casa Berardi mine in Quebec churned out 35,807 ounces of gold in the first quarter, up from 30,378 ounces in the prior-year period, primarily due to higher throughput, Hecla said.
The company also listed first-quarter lead production of 8,636 tons and zinc production of 15,537 tons. Silver-equivalent production was 10.6 million ounces.
Silver first-quarter cash costs, after by-product credits, of 84 cents per ounce were the lowest in over five years and below Hecla’s full-year estimate of $2.75, the company said.
“The first-quarter production at Greens Creek and San Sebastian exceeded our expectations, more than offsetting the shortfall at Lucky Friday due to a strike by the union workers,” said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., president and chief executive officer.
He said the company’s performance “allowed us to add $14 million of cash since the end of the year, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of increasing cash balances.”