VANCOUVER — A 6,700-metre drill program at the La Encantada mine in the northeastern Mexican state of Coahuila has paid off for First Majestic Silver (FR-T, FRMSF-O).
Coupled with development of 6,100 metres of underground workings, the drilling campaign boosted proven and probable reserves at La Encantada by 187%.
A January estimate pegged La Encantada’s reserves at 1.2 million proven and probable tonnes grading 312 grams silver per tonne, 1.77% lead and 0.81% zinc for 12.1 million contained ounces silver.
But with the latest batch of results from 29 drill holes, First Majestic now pegs La Encantada at 5.2 million proven and probable tonnes grading 208 grams silver, 2.42% lead and 2.33% zinc for 34.7 million contained ounces silver.
While measured and indicated resources decreased by about 20% to 4.9 million tonnes grading 156 grams silver, 1.15% lead and 0.87% zinc, First Majestic grew inferred resources by more than 50% to 2.6 million tonnes grading 220 grams silver, 1% lead and 1% zinc.
The increased reserves come at an opportune time as First Majestic also reports it should finish building a 3,500-tonne-per-day cyanidation plant at the mine by April.
Currently, First Majestic operates a 1,000-tonne-per-day mill at the mine. Once the new one is online, however, the company reports yearly silver production at La Encantada will quadruple to 4 million oz. silver.
If it achieves that production goal, First Majestic’s overall silver production would more than double. In the year ending Sept. 30, First Majestic produced a total of 2.7 million oz. silver. Each of the Mexican-focused company’s three mines, La Encantada, La Parilla and San Martin, accounted for about a third of that.
First Majestic will depend on La Encantada’s new mill for increased production more than it had previously planned.
Citing market conditions, in November the company announced planned mill expansions at La Parilla and San Martin were on hold.
And it shelved the Cuitaboca silver project, for the time being, and reduced activities at its Del Toro silver property.
At Del Toro, First Majestic says an environmental assessment is still going ahead and that it will determine a construction schedule for the project later on. First Majestic has said it expects Del Toro, in Zacatecas state, to become its fourth operating mine.
In October, the company pegged Del Toro’s sulphide and oxide resources at 1.4 million measured and indicated tonnes grading 269 grams silver, 4.69% lead and 4.80% zinc. The resource combines estimates from two past-producing silver mines on the property — San Juan and Perseverancia.