Coeur d’Alene Mines announced record silver production in 2009 and reserves at year-end as the company nears completion of the transition to its three new silver and gold mines. Total 2009 silver production increased 47% while gold production grew more than 56% compared with 2008 levels.
“2009 was a defining year for Coeur. Our San Bartolomé silver mine completed its first full year of operations and we commenced production in Mexico at our Palmarejo silver and gold mine. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision in June, which has allowed us to recommence final construction at our Kensington gold mine in Alaska where we expect production to begin in the third quarter,” said Dennis E. Wheeler, chairman, president and CEO.
“Our three key objectives entering 2010 are to continue to optimize silver recoveries at Palmarejo in order to achieve design capacity; return to full scale operations at San Bartolomé above the 4,400 m level; and achieve planned gold production following startup of our Kensington gold mine,” said Wheeler.
2010 production from Palmarejo is expected to reach 7.9 million oz of silver and 109,000 oz of gold at a cash cost under $2.50/oz of silver. Coeur plans to spend approximately $55 million for capital expenditures at Palmarejo in 2010.
In its first full year of operations, the company’s San Bartolomé operation produced 7.5 million oz of silver at an average cash operating cost of $7.80/oz compared with 2008 production of 2.9 million oz at an average cash operating cost of $8.22/oz. During the fourth quarter 2009, the company adjusted its mine plan to operate below 4,400 m following a government suspension of mining above that elevation.
Coeur said it ended 2009 with 269 million oz of silver reserves and 2.9 million oz of gold reserves.
The company reported spending $18.9 million for exploration program in 2009. It plans to spend approximately $17.9 million in 2010 on exploration with $9.2 million targeted for Mexico, $3.3 million targeted for the Joaquin project in Argentina, and $2 million earmarked for Kensington.