Pan American Silver expects Argentina open pit ban to be lifted this year

Pan American Silver (TSE:PAA) CEO Geoff Burns expects Argentina will lift its ban on open pit mining this year.

The Vancouver-based company had it mothball its its Navidad project in the South American nation, suffering a $100 million writedown on the silver-lead-copper project two years ago.

Platts News reports Pan American, which also owns the Manantial Espejo silver-gold mine and the Calcatreu gold deposit in Argentina, will also benefit from a devaluation of the Argentine peso:

"I'm still very optimistic. We're seeing some positive developments in Argentina relative to attracting foreign investment," Burns said on the sidelines of the International Gold and Silver Symposium in Lima. "I remain very hopeful that we'll see some positive developments relative to Navidad this year."

Argentina produced 24.7 million ounces of silver in 2013, up 1.6% from 2013 placing it as the tenth largest producer of the precious metal globally after the US.

Pan American posted a net loss of $293 million on $824 million revenue for 2013, mostly due to an impairment charge on its Dolores mine in Mexico resulting from lower long-term metal prices and increased taxes.

In 2014, Pan American expects to produce 25.75 to 26.75 million ounces of silver and 155,000 to 165,000 ounces of gold at consolidated cash costs of between $11.70 and $12.70 per ounce of silver, net of by-product credits.

The company also expects to produce 39,500 to 42,500 tonnes of zinc, 12,700 to 13,700 tonnes of lead and 5,200 to 5,700 tonnes of copper.

The company has earmarked $95.5 million in capex spending this year for expansion work in Argentina and Mexico where the La Colorada mine will receive most of the outlay.