TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Mexico’s Hochschild Mining produced 26,4-million attributable silver-equivalent ounces in 2010, in line with forecasts, but operating costs will likely be higher than expected, the company said on Wednesday.

Broken down into the individual metals, production amounted to 17,8-million ounces of silver and 144 400 oz of gold.

However, the firm said costs a ton for 2010 will be slightly higher than expected, after significantly higher metal prices resulted in increased royalties. Costs were also affected by the longer-than-planned mine life at the mature Ares operation, as well as by local price inflation in Argentina.

Hochschild also announced on Wednesday it has completed a positive scoping study on the Crespo project in Peru, which it said could produce 2,3-million silver-equivalent ounces a year from 2014.

Studies are continuing into two other projects, Azuca and Inmaculada, which together could add more than ten-million silver-equivalent ounces of attributable production from 2014, Hochschild said.

Hochschild operates five mines in Peru, Argentina and Mexico and expects to produce 22,5-million silver-equivalent ounces this year.

The company sold the bulk of its 35% holding in Lake Shore Gold in October last year, as part of a strategy to focus on organic growth and exploration.

Exploration spending is expected to rise 40% this year, to $70-million, CEO Ignacio Bustamante said in Wednesday’s statement.

“This will be invested in our long-term pipeline which currently includes 28 different drill targets at our mines and exploration sites throughout the Americas, including seven potential ‘company makers’,” he said.

Edited by: Liezel Hill



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