Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL) reported on Thursday that its silver production reached 13.5 million ounces in 2020, a 7% improvement over the previous year. Gold production of 208,962 ounces was down 23% from 2019, which was Hecla’s highest annual gold production year.
Hecla now has the third-highest silver and gold reserves in the company’s 130-year history, despite “significant interruptions” to the 2020 exploration program due to covid-19.
“The covid pandemic provided significant challenges to Hecla and the mining industry; however, due to our people and the jurisdictions we operate in, Hecla exceeded the high end of our pre-covid silver guidance by 1.4 million ounces,” CEO Phillips S. Baker Jr. said in a media release.
The rally in precious metals prices resulted in 2020 sales of $691.9 million, the highest in the company’s history. Adjusted net income to shareholders was $23.1 million, or 4 cents per share, in line with Wall Street expectations.
During the fourth quarter, Hecla’s Lucky Friday mine in Idaho returned to full production levels, which, together with positive results from the work at Casa Berardi and the continued consistency of Greens Creek, allowed the company to increase its projected silver production guidance for 2021.
“Silver production from our US silver mines is expected to go from 8 million ounces in 2018 to almost 15 million ounces by 2023, further increasing Hecla’s position as the most significant US silver producer,” Baker said.
In 2021, the company’s exploration program will follow up on those high-grade discoveries that have the potential to be expanded or developed into North America’s next high-quality deposits.
“Examples of this are Midas’ Green Racer Sinter target, where we have made a multi-ounce gold discovery in a never before drilled target, and at San Sebastian’s El Bronco vein, where we are seeing high-grade over significant widths,” Baker added.
Shares of Hecla were down 3.1% by 12:15 p.m. in Toronto. The company has a market capitalization of C$3.1 billion.