SilverCrest Mines Inc. (the “Company”) is pleased to provide an update on activities for the expansion of the Santa Elena Mine in Sonora, Mexico. The Santa Elena Mine expansion is on budget (+/-5%) with initial start up of the new 3000 tpd operation anticipated later this month.
The most significant activities are outlined below. For additional information and to view photos and videos, please visit the Company’s website at www.silvercrestmines.com.
N. Eric Fier, President and COO stated; “We are pleased with the final stages of the Santa Elena Expansion Plan which will significantly increase our precious metal production starting in mid-2014. Previous delay in delivery of the ball mill has pushed back our original Q1 start up to early Q2 while remaining on budget. The start up of the mill this month will be a major milestone for SilverCrest. The Company continues to grow as a low cost junior operator transitioning into a successful mid-tier precious metal producer. As part of a revised start up schedule we have elected to discontinue open pit operations and accelerate underground operations. These operational changes may have some impact on Q2 production but no change to the previously announced 2014 corporate production guidance of 3.3 to 3.6 million ounces AgEq (60:1).”
Santa Elena Expansion Plan
- New CCD/Merrill Crowe processing plant is 96% complete with final electrical and piping work being completed and tested over the next two weeks.
- 80% of the major equipment has been tested and passed for initial start up. The remaining 20% will be tested during start up.
- FLSmidth, the primary equipment supplier, has representatives on site supervising final work in anticipation of mill commissioning over the next 3 months.
- Ore feed during the mill commissioning period will come from a blend of high grade underground ore and the upper part of the leach pad which represents the last 6 months of high grade open pit production that has only received partial leaching.
- As planned with mill start up, no further ore will be loaded on the leach pad but gold and silver production will continue at a diminishing rate from the pad until at least August, 2014.
- As part of the previously announced transition to underground mining, open pit operations have ceased as of April 4, 2014 which is approximately 3 months ahead of original schedule. Operational constraints presented by the mine contractor amongst other factors have triggered this early cessation of pit operations. Remaining open pit reserves are readily accessible from the 700m and 675m underground planned levels and the Company is scheduling retrieval of these reserves at a later date. Total reserves are unaffected by cessation of the pit operations.
Underground mining and development has been accelerated providing access to high grade ore feed to the mill over the next 3 months to replace ore that was expected from planned open pit production. From May through July (mill commissioning period), underground ore feed to the mill will come from increased ore development at a rate of 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes per month (previously 5,000 tpm). Underground ore will be blended with leach pad ore to achieve nameplate mill capacity of 3,000 tpd by July 2014. Key underground personnel are in place to execute the accelerated underground operations.
- Underground equipment for owner operated production is expected to arrive on site in early May and initial production stoping is scheduled for late June or early July 2014.
- Decline access work continues with approximately 2,400 metres of the main ramp driven to date (570m level). The 575m level is planned for 1st stope production.
Despite the operational changes in mine schedule of early pit closure and accelerated underground operations, the Company maintains previously announced 2014 corporate production guidance of 3.3 to 3.6 million ounces AgEq (60:1) will be unchanged.
The Qualified Person under National Instrument (NI 43-101) Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects for this News Release is N. Eric Fier, CPG, P.Eng, and Chief Operating Officer for SilverCrest Mines Inc., who has reviewed and approved its contents.