Hecla Mining (NYSE: HL), the largest silver producer in the United States, is looking to expand into Mexico, Peru and two other countries in Latin America to speed up growth once it consolidates its position in Canada.
The Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based miner set a foothold in one of the world’s highest-grade silver regions in 2022, The Keno Hill Silver District in Canada’s Yukon Territory, with the acquisition of Alexco Resources.
Hecla faced initial challenges at the Keno Hill mine, where inspectors found last year sediment runoff from tailings facilities, poor storage of hazardous materials, hydrocarbon stains on the ground, and discharged water that was toxic to fish.
Despite the setback, Keno Hill produced 1.5 million ounces of silver in 2023, with 608,301 ounces produced in the fourth quarter. The Bermingham deposits, which form the backbone of Hecla’s current Yukon mining operations, achieved their highest production in December, exceeding 9,500 tonnes mined. Ore inventory at the end of the year was approximately 3,000 tonnes at a silver grade of 27 ounces per tonne.
Hecla, which also has offices in Vancouver, Canada, expects to become the country’s largest silver producer as its Yukon operations grow.
“I think this is going to be an incredible mining district, it already is, but it’s going to be even bigger. (…) It’s a 200 million-ounce district and we don’t know what the limit will be,” chief executive Phillips J. Baker said in an interview with Peru’s Gestión.
The executive said Hecla is now considering expanding into Latin America. “We recognize that to grow faster we need to be in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia or Argentina, so we are actively pursuing opportunities in each of those jurisdictions,” he said.
The silver producer is simultaneously looking to maximize value from its four operating mines — Greens Creek (Alaska), Lucky Friday (Idaho), Casa Berardi (Quebec) and Keno Hill (Yukon) — and ten exploration projects.
The plan is to churn out up to 20 million ounces of silver a year by 2025, Hecla said in early January.