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Friday, October 7, 2016

The lowest grade mines in the world - Silver

This is part 2, focusing on silver projects. Silver is typically a nuisance by-product from mines producing important metals like copper, lead and zinc or valuable metals like gold. There are relatively few primary silver mines (even the Fresnillo mine has significant gold, lead and zinc credits). I've tried to focus on mines that have >50% of their production value or resource value in silver.

Again, this is a guide so that you can check you favourite silver project against the list to see how they compare, and remember, with operating mines, what they are mining now is NOT the same grade as when the mine started.

Open Pit

These are probably all the open pit silver mines in the world! Rochester - WTF, why are you still operating? It is because it squeaks out a small profit (or doesn't lose too much) but accounts for 30% of Coeur's silver production.


Impact has been successfully losing money at Zacualpan since 2015 2014 2013 2012! They had an unfashionable case of profitability in Q4, 2015, but fortunately they are back to losing money again!
Avino - best word is - Breakeven.

Development Projects

These are all proposed to be open pit operations.

Care and Maintenance

Both these mines were underground operations and close because they couldn't meet their base metal streaming agreements.

Here are a couple of open pit examples

I'll try and make this list dynamic, so if you have any suggestions, I'll try and include them.

It was interesting looking through all this data. I was amazed at how many silver mining companies are:

  1. Mainly gold or base metal miners
  2. Very good at losing money - several haven't been profitable for YEARS
  3. Raised crap loads of money recently to essentially stay afloat
TL:DR version - if you want to invest in mining/exploration companies - go for ones with gold and copper projects!