Endeavour Silver’s silver and gold output was hit hard as government-mandated suspension affected two months of production
Endeavour Silver Corp. (TSX: EDR, NYSE: EXK) reports production of 596,545 silver ounces (oz) and 5,817 gold oz in Q2, 2020, for silver equivalent (“AgEq”) production of 1.06 million oz at an 80:1 silver:gold ratio (1.18 million oz at 100:1 ratio).
During the quarter, mining operations were suspended on April 1st as mandated by the Mexican government to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In late May, mining was deemed to be an essential activity by the Mexican authorities, which allowed mining operations to start up with health protocols in place.
Endeavour had the advantage of having already put in place a rigorous coronavirus prevention and response plan and having built up ore stockpiles at each mine site. That enabled Endeavour to restart its operations, initially with plant personnel only, to process the ore stockpiles built up in Q1, 2020.
Therefore, Q2 plant throughput was only down 52% and silver equivalent production was down only 42% compared to Q2, 2019. Management expects to update shareholders on its second half and full year production and cost guidance when it reports the Q2, 2020 financial results on August 6, 2020.
2020 Second Quarter Highlights
- Mines Successfully Re-Started: Each mine plan was adjusted to enhance short term cash flow and in June, the mines exceeded their adjusted consolidated throughputs at higher than adjusted consolidated ore grades.
- Guanacevi Continued to Outperform: Processed tonnes, silver and gold grades and recoveries continued to deliver well above plan. The operational turn-around and transition to mining the new, higher grade El Curso, Milache and SCS orebodies had a significant positive impact on the re-start. Ore stockpiles and pre-prepared long hole stopes allowed for an expedited restart, while the testing of the newly installed cone crushers in April allowed for significant plant throughput in May.
- Bolanitos and El Compas Steady: Bolanitos and El Compas re-starts were slower than Guanacevi due to smaller stockpiles and greater focus on mine development and grade control during the ramp up period. Gold grades exceeded historical grades in June, while silver grades remained low due to variations in the ore bodies.
- Metal Sales and Inventories: Sold 634,839 oz silver and 5,218 oz gold, held 221,100 oz silver and 738 oz gold of bullion inventory and 14,000 oz silver and 1,215 oz gold in concentrate inventory.
- Positive Bolanitos Drill Results: Drilling intersected new high-grade gold-silver mineralization in the Melladito vein near the Bolanitos plant with assays up to 24.3 grams per tonne (gpt) gold and 787 gpt silver for 3,217 gpt silver equivalents (AgEq) at a 100:1 silver:gold ratio over a 1.5 meter (m) true width in hole BN27. The new mineralized zone is 100 m long by 200 m deep and remains open in all directions within 300 m of the current mine workings.
- Positive Guanacevi Drill Results: Drilling in Q1, 2020 intersected new high-grade gold-silver mineralization in the Santa Cruz vein on the El Curso property with assays up to 1,085 gpt silver and 3.25 gpt gold for 1,410 gpt AgEq over 10.0 m true width in hole UCM-27. The new mineralized zone measures 250 m long by 150 m deep, still open along strike and at depth, within 100 m of the current mine access ramp.
- Released 2019 Sustainability Report: The Company released its 8th consecutive Sustainability Report at https://csr.edrsilver.com outlining its sustainability initiatives and results for 2019.
- Launched At-The-Market Financing: The Company entered into a sales agreement with a syndicate of banks to sell up to $23 million worth of common shares to advance the Terronera project and provide working capital during these uncertain global economic conditions.
Consolidated silver and gold production in Q2, 2020 were both lower than Q2, 2019 due to the suspension of the Guanacevi, Bolanitos and El Compas mines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of the El Cubo mine, related to lack of ore in November 2019. Ignoring El Cubo, Q2, 2020 production, pro-rated for the number of operating days, increased significantly due to the improved plant throughput and ore grades at Guanacevi
Guanacevi silver and gold grades were higher than Q2, 2019 and well above plan, while silver recoveries were lower and gold recoveries were higher than Q2, 2019. Mining the new, higher grade El Curso, Milache and SCS orebodies, and processing the high-grade ore stockpiles plus using two refurbished cone crushers installed in April allowed for a quick, efficient ramp up of production in May. June plant throughput averaged 1,051 tpd with a plan to increase to 1150 tpd in H2, 2020.
Bolanitos gold grades were higher and silver grades were lower than Q2, 2019 and approached planned grades. The mine re-start focused on accelerated mine development and additional dilution control in order to return to plan in Q3, 2020. June plant throughput averaged 1,070 tonnes per day (tpd). Mine development will continue to focus on accessing the San Miguel ore body and developing the Medallito discovery.
El Compas gold grades were higher and silver grades were lower than Q2, 2019, above and below planned grades respectively. The mine re-start focused on dilution controls and higher-grade material in the upper El Compas vein to improve short term cash flows. Management finished replacing the mining contractor with new employees in June, when throughput averaged 240 tpd. The transition from contractor cut and fill mining to employee long hole mining should be completed in H2, 2020.
Production Tables for Second Quarter, 2020 by Mine (2)
|by mine||Processed||per day||Ag gpt (1)||Au gpt (1)||Ag %||Au %||Oz||Oz|
(1) gpt = grams per tonne
(2)results for the second quarter represent a partial period of production, as operations were suspended for more than half the quarter, as mandated by the Mexican Government in response to the pandemic
Bradford Cooke, Endeavour CEO, commented, “I am pleased to report that notwithstanding the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Endeavour personnel were pro-active in minimizing its impact on our mining operations in Mexico. We implemented our coronavirus prevention and response plan in mid-March and it has been very effective. I commend our Mexico management and employees for responding positively when called upon by these extraordinary circumstances.”
“During the mine suspension period, we sent our employees home on full salary while keeping essential personnel working at each mine site to maintain safety, security and equipment. After the mines restarted, we were able to outperform our adjusted mine plans in June. We will now look for opportunities to enhance our production in H2, 2020 to partly make up for lost ground in H1, 2020.”
About Endeavour Silver – Endeavour Silver Corp. is a mid-tier precious metals mining company that owns and operates three high-grade, underground, silver-gold mines in Mexico. Endeavour is currently advancing the Terronera mine project towards a development decision and exploring its portfolio of exploration and development projects in Mexico and Chile to facilitate its goal to become a premier senior silver producer. Our philosophy of corporate social integrity creates value for all stakeholders.