Hecla’s 2023 silver production the second highest in history, more growth expected

Lucky Friday mine. Credit: Hecla

Hecla Mining Company (NYSE: HL), the largest primary silver producer in the US, has reported the second-highest annual production in company history with 14.3 million oz. in 2023. Silver reserves by year-end, totalling 238 million oz., were also its second-largest ever.

This is despite losing five months of production from the Lucky Friday mine in Idaho due to a fire incident. The operation restarted in January of 2024, with first insurance proceeds received by the company this month.

In Alaska, Greens Creek delivered another year of strong and consistent performance as the largest US silver mine achieved record throughput, resulting in 9.7 million oz. of production, in line with the prior year.

The Keno Hill project in Yukon, which Hecla acquired in its takeover of Alexco Resource in the summer of 2022, began silver production in the second half of 2023, ending the year with 1.5 million oz. The mine is continuing to ramp up as major infrastructure gets finished, and is expected to produce 2.7-3.0 million oz. this year.

Meanwhile, the Casa Berardi mine in Quebec, which predominantly produces gold, began the transition to surface only mining, with results exceeding expectations for tons and cost per ton as the company operates its own surface fleet.

Looking ahead, Hecla is expecting consolidated silver production to increase by 15-20% to 16.5-17.5 million oz. this year, and then increase by another 30% (compared to 2023) to 18.0-20.0 million oz. by 2026.

Greens Creek’s silver production is expected to decrease in 2024 due to lower grades. Lucky Friday’s production guidance is 5.0-5.3 million oz., with the ramp up to full production expected to be complete in the first quarter.

This production outlook, according to CEO Phillips S. Baker Jr., would make Hecla one of the world’s fastest growing silver companies in the world.

Consolidated gold production, however, is expected to decrease further from 151,259 oz. in 2023 to 121,000-133,000 oz., primarily due to the transition at Casa Berardi.

Shares of Hecla Mining Company rose by 6.7% as of 12:30 p.m. ET, trading at $3.68 apiece in New York. The company’s market capitalization stood at $2.3 billion.