VANCOUVER – First Majestic Silver Corp. announced silver equivalent production of 7.2 million ounces for the first quarter of this year, or 2.6 million ounces of silver and 58,892 ounces of gold, including 20,707 gold ounces from Jerritt Canyon Mine in Nevada.
The company stated that the silver equivalent ounces for the first quarter were up 59% from the first quarter of 2021 because of the acquisition of Jerritt Canyon on April 30, 2021, and First Majestic reported mining expansion efforts continue at Jerritt Canyon.
First Majestic is reopening the West Generator underground mine, and the company said in the April 18 announcement that Saval II is also to be mined again at Jerritt Canyon, 50 miles north of Elko.
“The Jerritt Canyon gold mine, out latest acquisition, has been receiving a lot of attention over the past year, which has shown steady improvements in mining, exploration and processing. Furthermore, many of these efforts are expected to begin showing positive results in the second half of 2022 as we bring two past producing underground areas, West Generator and Saval II, back into production,” said Keith Neumyer, president and chief executive officer.
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First Majestic stated that it expects to begin shipping ore to the processing plant from West Generator by the end of the second quarter, and West Generator and rehabilitation of the underground Saval II is expected to increase mine throughput and the average gold head grade at the plant in the second half of this year.
The company additionally announced that in March that it implemented an amended contract with the mining contractor, Small Mine Development, and took control of all mine planning, technical services, geology, mine engineer and ore controls at the SSX and Smith mines. The change is expected to improve efficiencies and lower costs in the future, according to First Majestic.
Jerritt Canyon production was down 12% from the fourth quarter of last year because of weather conditions in January, according to First Majestic, which reported that the SSX underground mine contributed roughly 35% of the ore going through the mill in the first quarter, and the Smith Mine contributed 48%.
Several surface areas contributed roughly 17% of total production in the quarter, and the company said that lower ore grades from SSX and the surface material continued during the quarter, resulting in lower than budgeted ore grades processed at the processing plant.
First Majestic’s other operations are the San Dimas silver and gold mine, the Santa Elena silver and gold mine and the La Encantada silver mine, all in Mexico. Their total production compared with 4.54 million silver equivalent ounces in the first quarter of 2021 – before Jerritt Canyon was added to the company.
“Our new Emitano mine at Santa Elena has definitely become the highlight for the business in the past two quarters,” Neumeyer said. “Having just completed its first full quarter in production, we continue to anticipate additional growth at Ermitano as the mine ramps up to higher throughput levels over the news few quarters.”
He said First Majestic also is in the process of converting Ermitano over to liquid natural gas power that is expected to reduce energy costs and lower emissions by the end of 2022.
The company also reported that the Mexican Center for Philanthropy and the Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility awarded First Majestic’s San Dimas, Santa Elena and La Encantada mining units the Socially Responsible Business Distinction for 2022.
San Dimas produced 3.08 million ounces of silver in the first quarter, consisting of 1.63 million silver ounces and 18,528 gold ounces, and First Majestic stated that those figures were down more than 20% from the fourth quarter of last year because of high absenteeism due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in January and February, which also impacted the other First Majestic operations in Mexico.
The company is advancing underground development for stope preparation and ventilation within the Perez Vein at San Dimas to be ready for initial production in the third quarter at San Dimas.
Santa Elena produced 1.87 million silver equivalent ounces in the first quarter, including 337,201 ounces of silver and 19,556 ounces of gold.
The company stated that the 21% drop in silver production from the fourth quarter of last year was primarily due to processing higher volumes of Ermitano’s ore, which is known to contain lower silver grades but higher silver equivalent grades than Santa Elena’s ore.
At La Encantada, the mine produced 664,009 ounces of silver in the first quarter, down 15% from the fourth quarter of last year. The company stated that it continues developing towards the Ojuelas orebody, as well as installing new draw-points within the 660 area in an effort to increase silver grades in the second half of the year.
First Majestic also reported that it completed 246,798 feet of exploration drilling across the company’s mines during the first quarter, with 29 active exploration drilling rigs, including 11 rigs at Jerritt Canyon.
The company plans to announce first-quarter financial results and the first-quarter dividend payment on May 12.