Canada’s Yamana Gold (TSX: YRI) (NYSE: AUY) has reported 2020 production slightly below its revised guidance of 915,000 gold equivalent ounces as covid-19 restrictions imposed in Argentina towards the end of the year impacted its Cerro Moro gold-silver mine.
While the mine operated continuously during the last three months of the year, the company tightened travel protocols to protect the health and safety of its employees and communities.
“We remain confident in Cerro Moro as we recognize that it would have met our production goals in the quarter except for the unexpected, although necessary, pandemic related restrictions imposed in December,” president and chief executive Daniel Racine said in the statement.
“While we anticipate there may be some short-term operational challenges in Argentina over the next few months due to covid-19, we expect to return to business as usual as the national vaccination program ramps up,” he noted.
The Toronto-based miner, which began gold and silver production at Cerro Moro in 2018, churned out 901,155 gold equivalent ounces last year, including 779,810 ounces of the yellow metal and 10.37 million silver ounces.
While less than what it expected, Yamana said production for the year reached an all-time high and increased for the seventh consecutive year at Jacobina in Brazil, while Peñón (Chile), Minera Florida (Chile) and Canadian Malartic were well above planned production.
The miner, which recently acquired smaller Canadian rival Monarch Gold, said it expects this year’s production to be higher than 2020’s, with 862,000 gold ounces and close to 10 million ounces of silver.
It also said it aims to hit production of 1 million ounces gold-equivalent this year and maintain that level throughout the rest of the decade.
“Yamana’s expected sustainable, or growing, long-term production assumes the Wasamac project, which was recently acquired in the Monarch Gold transaction, starts production in 2025,” BMO analyst Jackie Przybylowsk, said in a note to investors.
“We don’t currently model this project beyond the ~C$152M acquisition value, as the 2018 feasibility study is likely out-of-date,” she noted.
Przybylowsk added that with the transaction now closed, Yamana is likley to resume development work on the project, which is 15km west of Rouyn-Noranda in the Abitibi region of Quebec.