Hochschild keeps production targets, dividend resumption uncertain

Inmaculada gold-silver mine in Peru is the company’s flagship asset. (Image courtesy of Hochschild Mining.)

Hochschild Mining (LON: HOC) said on Wednesday it is on track to achieve its production targets for 2024 after an increase in gold output boosted its overall first-quarter production.

The UK-based precious metals producer said gold production increased to 45,937 ounces in the first three months of the year from 39,730 ounces in the same period in 2023, with a small initial contribution from the Mara Rosa gold mine in Brazil. First gold at the operation was poured in February and the mine is anticipated to begin commercial production in the next few weeks, according to Hochschild.

Overall production, measured in gold-equivalent ounces, grew by 8.1%.

Hochschild saw silver output decline to 1.98 million ounces in the first three months of the year from 2.06 million in the same period of 2023. 

The South America-focused miner attributed the slight fall to the absence of contribution from the Pallancata mine in Peru, which was placed on care and maintenance late last year. Offsetting this, production from both its flagship Inmaculada mine in Peru and from San Jose in Argentina were slightly better-than-expected.

“We have delivered a good start to 2024,” said chief executive Eduardo Landin. “Hochschild’s balance sheet remains strong and, with rising precious metal prices and full production in Brazil, we expect to generate robust free cashflow during the remainder of the year.” 

The company’s debt rose last year due to the construction costs of Mara Rosa. Dividend payments, suspended in 2022, remain high on the company’s agenda, but not likely to resume before the fall, it said.

Landin said in March it would be ‘inappropriate’ to restore the final dividend given the company’s debt level, which reached $282 million by the end of March, up from $258 million at the end of 2023. 

The executive added Hochschild would “reassess the potential for capital return” at the interim results in August, as Mara Rosa would have hit commercial production by then. 

Hochschild kept its full-year production targets unchanged at 343,000 to 360,000 gold-equivalent ounces and an all-in sustaining cost of between $1,510 and $1,550 per gold-equivalent ounce.