Great Panther Mining Ltd, a growing gold and silver producer focused on the Americas, has reported its production results for the three months ended 30 September 2021 from its three wholly-owned mines: Tucano in Brazil, and Topia and the Guanajuato Mine Complex (GMC) in Mexico.
3Q21 Production highlights
- Consolidated metal production of 22 444 gold equivalent (Au eq) oz, inclusive of 18 423 Au oz and 280 245 Ag oz.
- Total gold production at Tucano of 16 325 Au oz.
- Total silver equivalent production at Topia of 242 028 silver equivalent Ag eq) oz.
- Total silver equivalent production at the GMC of 278 073 Ag eq oz.
- Urucum Central South (UCS) pushback activities completed in late September 2021.
“Third quarter production was lower than planned primarily because of low ore tonnage from Tucano. The Tucano mine contractor experienced maintenance issues, which led to poor fleet availability, resulting in lower mined tonnage and a delay in the completion of the UCS pushback activities,” stated Rob Henderson, President and CEO of Great Panther. “The delay at UCS was also affected by significantly higher-than-average rainfall. The pushback at UCS is now complete and we are working with our mine contractor to resolve equipment availability issues. During the quarter, we stayed the course, however, and continued investing as planned. Stripping activities at TAP AB are advancing and we are executing on our extensive exploration programme to position Tucano for future growth and production.”
During the quarter, precipitation levels in northern Brazil were approximately 25% higher than historical averages. In September, movement was detected in the west wall of the UCS pit and, to ensure safety for workers, mining was suspended for four days until conditions were deemed stable. Vertical drains are currently being installed in the west wall of the UCS pit to reduce water levels and are expected to be in place by late November in preparation for the rainy season, typically the first half of the year.
A new mine design has been implemented allowing mining activities to safely continue on the east side of the UCS pit. Strict safety protocols are followed at all times, including radar monitoring for wall movement, prisms and drone surveys, to ensure the health and safety of workers.
Production at GMC and Topia during the quarter was approximately 21% behind plan. The implementation of the new labour laws in Mexico resulted in delays in tonnage mined as contractors adjust to the new requirements. In addition, production at GMC was primarily from historically mined areas and actual tonnages available were lower than estimated.
At GMC, the company does not expect to receive approval to expand the tailings storage facility (TSF) prior to reaching the current capacity of the TSF in December 2021. Contingency plans are being evaluated to process GMC ore at third-party facilities in 2022 and evaluation of longer-term tailings storage solutions are underway.
On 18 August 2021, the Peruvian government introduced a new Mine Closure Law (Law No. 31347). The new law contemplates increases to the mine closure bond requirement applicable to all mining companies in Peru. Whereas previously companies were required to provide bonds to cover ‘Final’ and ‘Post-Closure’ stages of the Mine Closure Plan, under the amended law the bonding requirement is inclusive of ‘Progressive Closure’ costs (i.e., closure activities during the operation of the mine) for the main components of the mine. The law does not provide details such as specific costs, or the timing of payment or form of collateral to be provided, and these details are expected to be described in new regulations that are expected to be published by mid-November 2021. Prior to publication of the new regulations, the company cannot estimate with certainty the amount or timing of incremental closure bond requirements for Coricancha.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the company maintains a high degree of vigilance across all its operations. Although cases at the company's mine sites remain low and vaccinations are progressing, strict health and safety protocols remain in place.
Consolidated operating results
Tucano produced 16 325 Au oz in 3Q21, a decrease of 49% compared to 3Q20, primarily due to equipment availability issues and the temporary halting in mining activities due to slope instability previously mentioned.
Plant throughput in the third quarter was 8% higher compared to the same period in 2020, due mainly to a higher amount of oxide material processed this quarter in the absence of sulfide ore from UCS. However, gold grade was 51% lower due to a higher than planned proportion of lower-grade stockpile ore being processed.
Silver equivalent production at Topia in 3Q21 was 242 028 Ag eq oz compared with 383 897 Ag eq oz in 3Q20, a decrease of 37% primarily due to the implementation of new labour laws in Mexico as previously mentioned.
Silver equivalent production at the GMC in 3Q21 was 278 073 Ag eq oz compared with 334 675 Aq eq oz, a decrease of 17% over 3Q20 as a result of the implementation of new labour laws in Mexico and production from historically mined areas and actual tonnages available being lower than estimated, as mentioned above.
The company has not yet been granted a permit from the Comisión Nacional del Agua (CONAGUA) to expand the TSF at the GMC, which only has sufficient capacity to continue milling operations until December 2021. While the company continues to proactively engage CONAGUA to expedite the permitting process, the operating assumption is that a permit will not be forthcoming and numerous longer-term solutions are currently being assessed, including processing ore at third-party facilities.
Read the article online at: https://www.globalminingreview.com/finance-business/11102021/great-panther-reports-3q21-production-results/