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Hecla Mining silver reserves at second-highest level in 130 years

Greens Creek, in southeast Alaska, is one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost primary silver mines. (Image courtesy of Hecla Mining.)

American silver producer Hecla Mining (NYSE: HL) said that its proven and probable reserves of the precious metal grew in 2021 to the second highest level in the company’s 130-year history – to 200 million ounces.

The Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based miner said exploration carried out at its Greens Creek mine in Southeast Alaska helped the most to reach such milestone.

Founded in 1891, Hecla Mining is the largest silver producer in the United States.

Hecla not only replaced silver production (15.2 million silver ounces contained), but also increased proven and probable reserves by 6%, or 11.5 million ounces, during 2020.

The company’s three operating mines — Greens Creek, Lucky Friday (Idaho) and Casa Berardi (Quebec) — now host a combined 37.3 million tonnes of reserves containing 200 million ounces of silver, 2.73 million ounces of gold, 1.81 billion pounds of zinc, and 1.47 billion pounds of lead, it said.

“Since 2008, Hecla has, through exploration, added 239 million silver ounces in reserves, replacing production while also growing resources,” president and chief executive Phillips Baker said in the statement.

“We see further growth in reserves, resources, and production,” Baker said.

Gold production was also replaced (244,680 gold ounces contained) and proven and probable reserves increased 14% to 2.7 million ounces.

Zinc reserves increased 2% to a total of 907,000 tonnes, while lead production of 49,000 tonnes was nearly replaced, with a slight decrease of 1% to 735,000 tonnes.

Global demand for silver, used in solar panels, electric vehicles and other key green technologies, is on the way up and expected to reach a record this year of 1.112 billion ounces, according to the Silver Institute.

The organization, whose figures are prepared by consultants Metals Focus, said last week it expected global silver demand for industrial use to jump 5% this year to a new high of 552 million ounces.