SilverCrest Metals provided an update on its activities at the Las Chispas Mine located in Sonora, highlighting that its commissioning remains on track despite power reliability issues. In addition, the company announced that it expects to achieve the first metal sale during the 3Q22, while its commercial production is scheduled for the end of the year.
In a press release, SilverCrest reported that in the first three months of commissioning, the project’s plant processed 53,600 tons with an average throughput of 748t/d. The company highlighted that it expects to reach a throughput of 1,250t/d in the last quarter of 2022. In addition, it explained that the grades continue to be low since the ore is extracted from historical low-grade reserves.
SilverCrest highlighted that although the construction of its 55km power line was completed in 2Q22, the capacity of the operation, which is connected to the Federal Electricity Commission's (CFE) network, is limited to 6.4MW. Despite the issues, the power line supports most operations. However, further stability is needed to avoid delays and minor interruptions in production. The power line’s final connection to 7.6MW is expected in 4Q22, as its construction is 80 percent complete. The company hopes that once the electrical network is completed, stability will be provided to all the operations.
Regarding underground mining, the company has drilled 5.1km and has extracted 109,000 tons of ore so far in 2022. The ramp-up of underground activities, which focuses on improving methods and implementing grade control procedures, is progressing well. SilverCrest expects to achieve an average between 600t/d and 700t/d in 4Q22, which is lower than the 750t/d expected in the Feasibility Study.
“Starting up a new mining operation is a dynamic period, and our team and contractors continue to navigate and address mostly typical ramp-up issue . Overall, we are pleased with the performance of the processing plant to date. Metal recoveries, plant throughput and the availability of the plant itself have generally tracked favorably when compared to the expectations outlined in the Feasibility Study. The project continues to benefit from the sizable surface stockpiles that have allowed the underground operation to be ramped up at a measured pace,” said Pierre Beaudoin, COO, SilverCrest.
In addition, the company emphasized that the first sale and revenues of the Las Chispas Mine are expected in 3Q22. Based on the feasibility study, revenues are expected to be limited and costs high as the mine and processing plant ramp up and the plant uses low grades.
SilverCrest emphasized that so far in 2022, exploration at Las Chispas has focused on further drilling and updating the resource model. Specifically, Picacho exploration is focusing on expansion and infill drilling in high-potential areas. Additionally, exploration has also sought to further analyze unexplored areas around Las Chispas and Picacho to identify new targets.