Illegal miner killed at Great Panther Mexico silver mine

Great Panther Silver (TSE:GPR)(NYSE MKT:GPL) said Wednesday an illegal miner was killed in a clash with guards at its Guanajuato mine in central Mexico.

Great Panther said the facility and production was not affected and that while some vandalization took place none of its employees were hurt by the violent incident.

"The company has encountered a number of illegal miners over the years but, until recently, they have not presented a risk to our people or operations," president and CEO Robert Archer said in a statement.

"Our top priority is the safety of our employees, contractors and communities. While the illegal mining activities have not caused meaningful disruptions in the past, some company personnel and local residents have lately been subjected to intimidation and escalating violence from illegal miners intent on gaining access to our mining operations and stealing ore.

The Vancouver-based company with two producing mines in Mexico said it initially took a "non-confrontational approach" to keep the illegal miners out of the mine, but they have lately been entering the property by force and with weapons, forcing Great Panther to hire armed security forces.

Great Panther said it immediately contacted local police, which is conducting an investigation. It said there have been no restrictions placed on the mine itself as yet, and will keep the public informed as the investigation continues.

Great Panther announced record annual figures for silver and gold in January with 2013 production coming in at 2.8 million silver equivalent ounces last year, up 19% from 2012.

The company's San Ignacio project is expected to come on stream mid-year and lift total output in 2014 to more than 3.1 million silver equivalent ounces.