Silver Standard Resources Inc. (TSX:SSO)(NASDAQ:SSRI) ("Silver Standard" or the "Company") reports consolidated financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2012.
"One of our goals in 2012 is to demonstrate strong quarter-on-quarter performance at the Pirquitas mine. Record production and stable mine cost performance in the first quarter provides a strong start to build on for the rest of the year," said John Smith, President and CEO. "The Pitarrilla feasibility study is progressing well and will be presented to the Board in the second half of 2012. With the recent proceeds from the exercised Pretium warrants, Silver Standard is financially strong to develop our substantial project portfolio and continue aggressive exploration."
First Quarter 2012 Highlights:
(All figures are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted)
-Record production of 2.2 million ounces of silver, a 24% quarter-on-quarter increase.
-Lowered direct mining costs to $11.86 per ounce of silver produced, a 21% quarter-on-quarter improvement.
-Operated the debottlenecked plant at an average of 4,567 tonnes per day throughput, a rate 14% above nominal design.
-Recorded revenues of $38.4 million on the sale of 1.5 million ounces of silver and 1.8 million pounds of zinc.
-Entered into two long-term silver concentrate sales contracts with smelters for 60% of monthly production commencing April 2012.
-During and subsequent to the quarter, enhanced corporate liquidity by realizing gross cash proceeds of C$71.0 million from exercised Pretium Resources Inc. ("Pretium") share purchase warrants pursuant to the secondary offering completed last year.
Pirquitas Mine, Argentina
Summary Mine Operating Statistics (1)
|Total Material Mined||Kt||4,297||4,640||4,185||4,483||4,172|
|Silver Mill Feed Grade||g/tonne||221||274||250||261||233|
|Silver Produced||'000 oz.||2,172||1,751||1,631||1,976||1,697|
|Direct Mining Cost||US$/oz.||$11.86||$14.97||$16.20||$11.57||$12.26|
|Total Cash Cost||US$/oz.||$20.30||$17.72||$20.60||$22.06||$23.23|
The Pirquitas mine recorded its highest quarterly production of 2.2 million ounces of silver during the first quarter of 2012. This is compared with silver production of 1.8 million ounces in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 1.7 million ounces in the first quarter of 2011. The stronger production was the result of improvements made to the crusher, the ball mill gearbox and several operating processes in 2011 and 2012 which increased plant throughput and operating performance. The mine also produced 3.3 million pounds of zinc in the first quarter of 2012 compared to 0.8 million pounds in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 3.2 million pounds in the first quarter of 2011.
During the quarter, 416,000 tonnes of ore were processed at an average milling rate of 4,567 tonnes per day, compared to 241,000 tonnes at an average of 2,618 tonnes per day in the fourth quarter of 2011, and 308,000 tonnes at an average of 3,419 tonnes per day in the first quarter of 2011. The average milling rate of 4,567 tonnes per day in the first quarter of 2012 is 14% higher than the plant's nominal design. The first quarter of 2012 plant performance resulted from continuous improvement initiatives including improved crushing, milling circuit efficiencies, improved preventive maintenance practices and proper mill feed selection. At these higher operating rates, the plant achieved near design silver recoveries.
Ore milled during the first quarter of 2012 contained an average silver grade of 221 g/t and an average silver recovery of 77.3% was achieved. This compared to an average silver grade of 274 g/t and recovery of 82.4% in the fourth quarter of 2011, and an average silver grade of 233 g/t and recovery of 73.6% in the first quarter of 2011. The lower silver grade during the first quarter of 2012 compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 was due to feeding the crusher average reserve grade material versus above-average grade material in the fourth quarter of 2011. Operating results were in-line with expectations for the quarter.
Mine operating costs
Direct mining costs in the first quarter of 2012 were $11.86 per ounce of silver compared to $14.97 per ounce in the fourth quarter of 2011 and $12.26 per ounce in the first quarter of 2011. The reduction in unit cost in 2012 compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 was primarily driven by the higher production volumes achieved and improvements in cost management.
Total cash cost in the first quarter of 2012, which includes by-product credits, treatment and refining costs, royalties and production taxes, was $20.30 per ounce of silver compared to $17.72 per ounce of silver in the fourth quarter of 2011 and $23.23 per ounce in the first quarter of 2011. Treatment and refining costs, as well as royalties and production taxes all vary as a function of sales prices and are recorded for the actual ounces of silver sold. Consequently, on a per ounce basis, the variability in total cash cost from period to period is partially due to sales prices and the difference between production and sales volumes. The higher incremental per ounce impact of these costs in the first quarters of both 2012 and 2011 compared with the fourth quarter of 2011 is due primarily to the fact that sales volumes were significantly higher in those quarters and, correspondingly, treatment and refining costs and royalties and production taxes incurred were significantly higher.
Exploration drilling program
Diamond drilling began in March in the Cortaderas Valley where two zones of silver-zinc mineralization were partially outlined in 2011. The 2012 drilling program is focused on expanding the Cortaderas Breccia and Cortaderas Valley Inferred mineral resources and upgrading significant portions of these resources to the Indicated mineral resource category. In addition, several drillholes will be testing new target areas identified immediately south and southwest of the San Miguel open pit from gravity and induced polarization surveys that were conducted earlier in the first quarter of the year. To date, six drillholes have been completed for a combined length of 2,716 meters, or about 12% of the planned 2012 drilling campaign of 22,350 meters. The assay results of these six, and subsequent, drillholes are expected in the second quarter of 2012.
|Selected Financial Data
(US$000's, except per share amounts)
This summary of selected financial data should be read in conjunction with the interim financial statements and the management discussion and analysis ("MD&A") of the unaudited consolidated operating results and financial condition of the company for the three months ended March 31, 2012 and audited results for the year ended December 31, 2011.
March 31, 2012
March 31, 2011
|Income (loss) from mine operations||6,245||27,859|
|Operating income (loss)||(1,124)||20,440|
|Net income (loss) for the period||(1,075)||9,943|
|Basic earnings (loss) per share||(0.01)||0.12|
|Cash generated (used) in operating activities||(20,779)||21,759|
|Cash generated by financing activities||587||6,729|
|Cash generated by (used in) investing activities||(15,569)||(66)|
|Financial Position||March 31,
|Cash and cash equivalents||293,294||329,055|
|Current assets - total||502,073||476,676|
|Current liabilities - total||200,581||77,588|
Pitarrilla Project, Mexico
During the quarter the Company continued to advance work on the feasibility study that is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2012. Costs incurred during the quarter were principally third party engineering costs for metallurgical, engineering, environmental and geotechnical work as well as internal costs related to pre-development activities in Mexico.
As previously disclosed, a scoping level evaluation determined the preferred project concept to be a large open pit mine. Plant facilities are expected to target 16,000 tonnes per day and include a milling circuit, an agitated leach circuit and a flotation circuit. These facilities are expected to produce silver doré and separate lead and zinc concentrates containing payable silver.
The design of the open pit anticipates starting in the upper and mid-level oxide and transitional ores, then extending into the higher grade sulfide ores in the basal conglomerate zone and finally bottoming out in the upper levels of sulfide mineralization in sedimentary structures below the conglomerate. This mining operation will leave intact the middle and lower zones of the sedimentary structures for subsequent potential underground mining.
The Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") process is scheduled to be completed with a construction permit application in the second half of 2012. The remaining land access rights are being negotiated and work has commenced for the operations camp, water wells and access roads.
In March 2012, the Company commenced an in-fill drilling program. This diamond drill program of approximately 8,300 meters has the objective of expanding the near-surface oxide mineralization at the Breccia Ridge and South Ridge zones. In addition, metallurgical testing is underway to optimize metal recoveries from oxide and sulfide mineralization. Where possible, results of the drilling and metallurgical studies will be included in the Pitarrilla feasibility study.
San Luis Project, Peru
Long-term land access negotiations continued with one of the two local communities, as an agreement with the other community was completed late last year.
The Company focused on advancing the EIA with comments being addressed. The completion of the land access agreements and approval of the EIA will enable a construction decision to be made.
In addition to pursuing land access agreements and environmental permits for the Ayelen gold-silver deposit the Company advanced its application for an environmental permit that would allow an exploration drilling campaign at the BP Zone, which is a high-potential porphyry copper target, located about 4.5 kilometers southeast of the Ayelen deposit. The environmental permit has been approved by the mining ministry and a water permit is expected shortly to enable drilling to commence. The BP Zone drilling program will consist of six holes.
Diablillos Project, Argentina
Expenditures primarily consisted of administrative, property taxes and camp maintenance costs. Fieldwork mainly involved rock sampling to identify satellite zones of near-surface oxidized gold mineralization that would complement the mineral resources defined in the main Oculto silver-gold deposit. A number of prospects were identified for follow-up mechanized trenching and additional sampling, and several of these targets will be drilled in 2012 with shallow boreholes. The planned program consists of approximately 2,000 meters of diamond drilling.
San Agustin Project, Mexico
Advanced negotiations continued with three parties that control the surface rights covering the Company's mineral concessions. Once land access agreements are in place, a 5,000 meter diamond drilling program will be initiated. The objective of the drilling campaign will be to expand the near-surface oxidized gold resource. In addition to the proposed program of in-fill drilling, detailed metallurgical studies will also be undertaken and will focus on gold recovery characteristics of the oxidized gold mineralization.
|Teléfono||604-689-3846 Fax: 604-689-3847|
|Dirección||999 West Hastings Street, Suite 1400, Vancouver, B.C. - Canada V6C2W2|
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