Lucky Friday Mine to be back to full production ahead of schedule
Hecla Mining Company announced its third quarter financial and operating results and announced that its Lucky Friday Mine in Idaho is ramping up to full production ahead of schedule.
The Lucky Friday Mine has been in production since 1942 but a prolonged strike that ended in January 2020 after more than two years slowed production.
On Nov. 9, the company announced that the Lucky Friday Mine produced 636,389 ounces of silver compared to 115,682 ounces in the third quarter of 2019. The mine has continued normal operations during the pandemic, with the ramp-up ahead of schedule. Lucky Friday, starting in the fourth quarter, will achieve full production with estimated annual production in excess of 3 million ounces of silver in 2021.
The production from Lucky Friday are part of an updated guidance for Hecla that includes 12.8 million and 13.4 million ounces of silver at an all-in sustaining cost of between $11.75 and $12.25/oz.
"Because of our strong operating performance and higher prices, Hecla had record adjusted EBITDA, generated the most free cash flow in a decade and repaid our revolver in full. These accomplishments were achieved because of our workforces’ resiliency and our commitment to health and safety," said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., President and CEO. "With the Lucky Friday ramp-up ahead of schedule, the expected improvements at Casa Berardi, and our modest planned capital expenditures, we are well positioned to further strengthen our balance sheet, increase exploration activities, and pay our enhanced dividend."
At the Casa Berardi Mine, Hecla reported 26,405 oz of gold were produced, including 6,800 oz from the East Mine Crown Pillar (EMCP) pit compared to 36,547 oz in the third quarter of 2019. The decrease is primarily due to lower mill throughput resulting from longer than planned down time of major mill maintenance activities, along with lower ore grades due to a delay in the availability of higher-grade underground stopes as a result of ground condition challenges. We anticipate ore from these higher-grade stopes to be mined and processed in the fourth quarter. The mill operated at an average of 3,138 tpd in the third quarter, a decrease of 14 percent over the third quarter of 2019.
Hecla also reported sales of $199.7 million, 24 percent more than the prior year quarter strengthened by silver production of 3.5 million oz and gold production of 41,174 oz.
The company also reported that underground testing and modification of the Remote Vein Miner (RVM) continued in Sweden, but with limitations due to COVID-19. In parallel, the company is testing alternative mining methods to increase productivity at the Lucky Friday Mine.