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!


  1. 'very good at losing money' = LoL, and yes indeed, does not sub $ 20 Ag make many, many (most) projects totally off the chart uneconomic?

    Faaaaar different story when Ag approached $ 50 and every mutt with a shovel had a big un. Too interesting as this list gets filled out ... vis-a-vis how many projects are 'that close' to going taters up right this instant at current Ag levels.

    Hit a major pet peeve today at

    How difficult would it be for full-time, IR pros to INSURE that their bloody damn e-mail contacts, plastered everywhere, actually work? Well it's faaaar too much to 'accomplish' for the latest tards at Auryn Resources - AUG.v, and these abject dopes are moving on to a Toronto listing now? (pffffft)

    1. I'm planning on putting out a post on the economics of silver mining companies. Should be fun, part of it is to research mining and processing costs for various operations the rest is to see what average grade and/or silver price is needed for companie to be profitable - this should allow people to separate the good 'un's (relatively speaking) from the crap.

  2. As for Impact Silver their upside is from the exploration they've been doing where in May 2016, the Company announced some of the best drilling intersections ever reported in the district at San Ramon Deeps, including 14.82 meters of 481g/t silver.

    As for Avino, they also have the input from the San Gonzalo Mine, and they are about to put their old talings into production next year for a 3rd input. Their AISC is just a little over $14, so when metals prices resume their uptrend again and silver gets back up close to $20+ their operations should be quite a bit more profitable than break even. I also like that the off-take agreement with Samsung underpins their operations as a good partnership.

    1. Time will tell with the Avino mine, at current prices it is breakeven (which is a similar story for many small silver miners).
      Impact silver - some nice hits recently, but it shows that they really need silver to be >$30/ounce for them to be profitable.

  3. Today we offer up Canasil Resources - CLZ.v

    Orex is optioning the Sandra-Escobar Project from CLZ.v