Hecla replaced mined silver production and added additional mineralized material and other resources in 2012. The company has made tremendous progress in its exploration efforts at its four large silver districts, three of which are in the U.S.; Greens Creek, Lucky Friday/Silver Valley, San Juan Silver, and San Sebastian in Durango, Mexico.
Last year’s exploration program include the following highlights:
Silver reserves increased by 2% to 150 million ounces, mineralized material increased 7% to 127 million ounces and other resources increased 37% to 172 million ounces. In addition, gold mineralized material increased fourfold to 1.7 million tons averaging 0.07 ounce of gold per ton and other gold resources increased 75% to 13.5 million tons averaging 0.05 ounce of gold per ton. Lead and zinc resources increased 6% and 14%, respectively.
Re-examination of district potential near the past producing Francine Vein at San Sebastian led to the discovery of the Middle Vein during 2012. The Middle Vein has both precious-metal-rich and base-metal-rich sulfide mineralized zones. The higher-grade gold-silver mineralization forms other resources of 8.8 million ounces of silver and 45,011 ounces of gold that has been outlined through systematic drilling.
Discoveries on Hecla’s district-sized, high-quality land packages in the United States and Mexico are anticipated to generate resources which we hope to convert into reserves and then production – all leading to valuable organic growth for the company.
Hecla’s 2013 exploration budget is expected to be approximately $27.1 million.