The Guanajuato Mine Complex is Great Panther Silver's flagship operation. The property consists of 28 claims, totaling 1,107 hectares. The concessions are 100%-owned by Great Panther's Mexican subsidiary, Minera Mexicana El Rosario, S.A. de C.V. The main claim block covers 4.2 km of the prolific Veta Madre vein structure in the City of Guanajuato in central Mexico.
For the first quarter of 2014, the Guanajuato operation processed 55,280 tonnes, up 5% compared to the same period in 2013. Ore grades were 128 grams/tonne ("g/t") Ag and 2.19g/t Au. Metal production included 199,059 Ag oz and 3,498 Au oz, or 408,942 Ag eq oz, which represented an increase of 2% over the same period in 2013.
Metal production at Guanajuato originated mainly from the gold-rich Santa Margarita mine followed by Cata and Los Pozos. Pre-production mill feed from San Ignacio development ore contributed somewhat to overall production.
For the quarter, plant metallurgical performance recorded a slight decline from both the first and fourth quarters of 2013 with metal recoveries of 87.3% for silver and 90.1% for gold, primarily due to processing lower grade ore.
A satellite operation to the main Guanajuato Mine Complex The San Ignacio mine started commercial production in June. The mine is currently operating at a run rate of approximately 200 tonnes per day and will increase gradually as new stopes are brought into production.
Topia is a high-grade silver-lead-zinc Mine in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Durango State, where silver has been mined intermittently since the 1500's. Great Panther owns 100% of the concessions that comprise 6500 hectares and are accessible by road and air. Topia includes 11 small mining operations all feeding a central plant.
For the first quarter of 2014, ore processed at Topia increased 2% to a record 17,351 tonnes compared to the same period in 2013. Ore grades were 344g/t Ag, 0.56g/t Au, 1.90% lead ("Pb") and 2.70% zinc ("Zn"). Metal production included 171,609 Ag oz, 168 Au oz, 308 Pb tonnes and 431 Zn tonnes. Total metal production was a record 258,407 Ag eq oz which is 24% higher than the same period in 2013. The increase was primarily a function of improved grades over the first quarter of 2013. Silver grades alone improved 15%.
Plant metallurgical performance was 89.4% for silver, 53.8% for gold, 93.4% for lead and 91.9% for zinc. Various process optimization measures have been implemented at the processing plant and others are underway. Crushing capacity increased 48% as a result of the new cone crusher installed late last year.
Overall metal production for 2014 is expected to increase gradually through the year as San Ignacio comes on stream. The San Ignacio Mine started commercial production in June. The mine is currently operating at a run rate of approximately 200 tonnes per day and will increase gradually as new stopes are brought into production. Adding this to steady production from the main Guanajuato Mine Complex and the Topia Mine, the Company expects to increase overall production by approximately 10% in 2014, to 3.1 to 3.2 million Ag eq oz.
As precious metals prices dropped significantly in 2013, the Company has heightened its focus on improving and strengthening the operational efficiency of its mines.