Hecla reports silver and gold production up in 2016

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Photo courtesy of HECLA MINING COMPANY A miner operates heavy equipment inside the Lucky Friday Mine.

Gold and silver production rose sharply in 2016 for Hecla Mining Co.

Preliminary results released Tuesday show the Coeur d’Alene-based company’s production exceeded expectations for the fourth quarter and overall in 2016.

Hecla’s reported silver production of 17.2 million ounces outpaced 2015’s results by 48 percent. Gold production rose by 24 percent with 233,929 ounces produced in 2016.

Lead production increased 6 percent and zinc production decreased 2 percent.

Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of approximately $198 million were recorded Dec. 31, 2016, an increase of about $43 million for the year.

This is the third consecutive year Hecla has broken its 125-year production record, the company said.

Phillips S. Baker Jr., Hecla’s president and CEO, said, “Through the downcycle we continued to build our production capacity.”

Among the projects contributing to the company’s production growth, Baker cited the completion of the No. 4 Shaft at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan. The shaft provides access to lower mining levels which increases operational flexibility and extends the life of the mine by 23 years.

At the Lucky Friday mine in 2016, 3.6 million ounces of silver were produced, the most in 16 years, and 874,019 ounces of silver were produced in the fourth quarter. The 19 percent increase in silver production for the year was due to higher mill throughput, grades and recoveries.

The company’s San Sebastian project in Mexico and the Casa Berardi pit in west Quebec also helped propel production levels in 2016, Baker said.

“The performance of these investments plus the ongoing strong performance of Greens Creek (Alaska) allowed Hecla to generate substantial cash flows this year and we expect well into the future,” Baker said.

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